Football Lions prepare for 'Roos
Jesse Godding reflects on dramatic, last-minute win
SAGU plays Austin College in Sherman, Texas on Saturday
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Fresh off an inspiring 21-15 triumph over Howard Payne University, Jesse Godding, the Head Coach of the football Lions at Southwestern Assemblies of God University was both reflective and optimistic about his team.
The Lions defense has yet to surrender 300 yards to an opponent a year after ranking 47th (of 92 teams) in the NAIA when they allowed 367 yards per game. SAGU is currently yielding just 254 yards, good for 16th nationally.
It has been the offense, which many saw as the strength of the team, which has struggled to get going. They are moving the ball an average of 249 yards (rated 65th). Seven turnovers, two returned for scores, have short-circuited the attack.
Southwestern has three weeks to prepare for the start of conference games in the Central States Football League. The first two weeks are on the road, a juncture that could decide whether SAGU will finish on the top side or bottom side of .500.
This Saturday the Lions face Austin College (NCAA Division III) in Sherman, Texas. The ‘Roos are 0-2, though they have won the past two games in the series and four of the five between the schools. Kickoff is slated for 1:00pm on the natural grass of Jerry Apple Stadium.
Saturday, September 24, SAGU will travel 465 miles to Lawrence, Kansas, to take on Haskell Indian Nations Institute. Riding a three-game winning streak in the series, the Lions are 4-3 against the Fighting Indians. Coach Godding’s team is gaining momentum and getting healthier. Key players who’ve been out with injuries are returning to action.
As for how they have played in their opening two games, the coach was full of praise.
“For the second game in a row we have given great effort,” he said. “There is a lot of fight in this team and it paid off this week in a big way.”
Defense has been stellar
“What a blessing it was to see a young man like Patrick (Smith), who has worked hard for three years for this program, get the opportunity to create a play of that caliber,” Godding added, speaking of his 65-yard interception runback for a TD.
“Defensively, you could not ask for a better effort. They were disciplined against the option tonight, and they made plays when they needed them.”
The ardent Nebraska fan elaborated. “We had numerous contributors. One of the key aspects to the success of the defense was the play of Jon Hulett and Richard Adewola at nose-guard. They controlled the middle of the line.”
Potent Offense has been dormant
As for the offense, he points out that “We haven't clicked on all cylinders yet this year. We are definitely having some growing pains. There is a tremendous amount of potential on the field, and we need to turn it into production. We had big plays called back on penalties tonight and didn't convert on a couple throwing opportunities that really hurt our offensive rhythm.”
Minute to win it
The two teams combined to score four TD’s in the final period, including two in the closing 1:17 of play.
“The end of the game was an unbelievable roller coaster of emotion,” Godding explained. Reid (Golson) came in and did a good job of not attempting to do too much and allowing the offense to work on that drive. He managed the clock well and the offensive line did a great job of protection. With the game on the line the players executed well.”
“Overall, we are 1-1. What's interesting is we could easily be 2-0 or 0-2. But the guys worked hard and were rewarded for their efforts with a win.”
As sophomore linebacker Kendal Evers said, “This win is something we must build on.”