By David Purdum / For the AJC
No. 10 Blessed Trinity forced three turnovers, two in the fourth quarter, and got a spark from freshman running back Milton Shelton in a 25-20 win over visiting Westminster.
Jon Jon Yu and Carter McManes each picked off passes in the fourth quarter, and Pat Jasinski stripped the ball from Westminster tight end Joe Bridges and raced 38 yards for touchdown in the first half.
It’s Blessed Trinity’s second straight win over Westminster, following a five-game losing streak to its former Region 6-AA rival. Blessed Trinity moved up to AAA this season, while the Wildcats remained in AA.
The win came a couple days after Blessed Trinity found out starting running back Jordan Denson, last year’s leading rusher, will miss the season after tearing his ACL in his left knee in a scrimmage last week. Senior Timmy Mertz started in Denson’s place, but it was freshman Milton Shelton who jumpstarted the Titans’ offense in the second half.
Shelton finished with a team-high 106 yards on 17 carries, all coming in the second half of his first varsity action.
Titans coach Tim McFarlin tempered his praise for Shelton, but acknowledged the talent of his freshman.
“Everyone knows when you lose a featured back in the I-formation like we did that you have to kind of re-evaluate your backfield,” said McFarlin. “I thought Mertz and Shelton played well. We’ll continue to be a backfield by committee as we evaluate.”
Titans quarterback Spencer McManes, a third-year starter, completed 9 of 20 passes for 78 yards and a 13-yard touchdown to Casey Bradley.
Nigel Walker scored two touchdowns, including a 33-yard, tackle-breaking spurt that got Westminster back in the game in the third quarter.
The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead on Walker’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Jake Forte’s 51-yard completion to Nelson Douglas on third-and-long highlighted the 10-play scoring drive.
Forte scored on a three-yard keeper with 30 seconds to play.
“Our defense gave our offense some chances, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot, with penalties and interceptions,” said Westminster coach Gerry Romberg.
The Wildcats were called for 10 penalties for 115 yards.
The Titans recorded two safeties, the first after an errant snap sailed over the head of Westminster punter Harrison Butker. The other safety came on an intentional grounding call in the end zone that extended the Titans’ lead to 19-14 with six minutes to play.
The Titans are at Lovett next week, with Westminster returning home to face St. Pius.
Westminster 7 0 7 6 – 20
Blessed Trinity 0 16 0 9 – 25
W — Nigel Walker 1 run (Harrison Butker kick)
BT — Safety
BT — Casey Bradley 13 pass from Spencer McManes (Marc Nolan kick)
BT –Pat Jasinski 38 fumble return (Nolan kick)
W — Nigel Walker 33 run (Butker kick)
BT – Safety
BT – Milton Shelton 33 run (Nolan kick)
W – Jake Forte 3 run (pass failed)