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September 16, 2011

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Shut down your opponents; convert your third downs.

It's the type of football that wins a lot of games ... the type that proves a team from Kentucky can play with (and play better than) powerhouses across the river in Cincinnati ... the type that proves a team usually thought of for its high-powered and quick-strike offense may actually be complete enough to compete for a national championship.

That may be the lesson learned after Louisville (Ky.) Trinity, No. 4 in the RivalsHigh 100, impressively beat No. 18 Cincinnati (Ohio) St. X, 17-7, Friday night.

It's not just that Trinity had enough to avenge last year's defeat to St. X - its only loss - but that it did it in a manner that suggests it may have more than enough to defeat anyone this year.

A team that was averaging more than seven touchdowns a game coming into the game, had just seven points entering the fourth quarter. But it was firmly in control, thanks to a defense that shut down St. X all game.

When Trinity QB Travis Wright found WR James Quick for a 36-yard scoring pass to open the fourth quarter, the game essentially was over. It just needed a final score.

Trinity provided it with a field goal that produced a 17-0 lead before St. X finally got on the board with a TD pass with 1:59 remaining in the game.

Wright finished the night 18-for-31 for 240 yards and two TDs. He helped Trinity convert on 12-of-19 third-down chances. Of course that's nothing new, the team has now converted just under 70 percent (31-of-45) of its third-down chances.

The story on this night though was the defense.

St. X had just 82 yards of total offense at halftime and just 156 for the game before its late 80-yard touchdown drive when the game was out of reach. St. X converted just two of its 10 third-down chances.

St. X star running back Conor Hundley, who had 206 yards against Trinity last season, finished with just 52 yards on 16 carries.

And while St. X has never been considered an offensive juggernaut, it had defeated two ranked teams (Pickerington Central and Colerain) coming into the game. And it was supposed to represent a big test for Trinity.

Instead, St. X proved to be little more than a small bump. Not as easy as say Trinity's 56-7 win over Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder a week ago or previous blowout wins over Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy and Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy, but a solid win nonetheless.

For Trinity (4-0), next week brings another out-of-state test as it plays against Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral in search of tougher competition. There's a game against at home against Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller to close the regular season.

Whether Trinity will go undefeated remains to be seen. This much is clear: It sure has found a winning formula.

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