Football Lions Rout 'Roos, 35-13
Hot Rice serves up big plays to Burditt
Team off to best start in history at 2-1
SHERMAN, Texas -- Off to their best start in history, Southwestern Assemblies of God University rolled to an impressive 35-13 pasting of nemesis Austin College.
Senior quarterback Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Faith West, Univ of N. Texas) came up huge, hitting 18-of-26 passes for 238 yards and a pair of first half touchdowns to Micah Burditt (Midland, Tx / Midland Lee HS). He connected on his first 13 throws and had 188 yards by halftime. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder rose to the occasion on a sunsplashed day at Jerry Apple Stadium.
The 2-1 beginning has the Lions in position to build on the promising launch. SAGU’s only setback was a 29-21 defeat in the season opener, a game they had every chance to win at Bethany College. The Swedes are now 3-0 and ranked in the Top 20 after beating McPherson (43-34) and Bethel College (66-34).
Next up for Southwestern is Haskell Indian Nations University on Saturday, September 14, in Lawrence, Kansas.
Defense pitches shutout over final 42 minutes
Holding on to a 14-13 lead at the half, the Lions turned to their defense, ranked #16 in the nation. The unit scored its third and fourth TD’s of the young season to clinch the game.
Clinging to the narrowest of margins, the defense was called upon after the offense’s third turnover. On a third down play from the Lions 30 yard line, a pass to a wide receiver near the sideline was incomplete and a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. An alert freshman cornerback, O’Shae Cofer (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS), scooped up the ball and jetted 69 yards for a 21-13 lead.
Officials determined the pass didn't go forward, making it a lateral, and thus, a live ball.
Backup QB Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS, Howard Payne Univ) engineered a nine-play, 73 yard scoring march that included two clutch passes to Nic Morphew (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS, Howard Payne Univ) and two more to David Howard (Dayton, Tx / Dayton HS). Golson skirted off tackle from one yard out for a 15-point advantage with 12:57 remaining.
Five minutes later the defense provided the exclamation point.
A Stephen Stewart (Magnolia, Tx / Magnolia West HS) punt pinned the Kangaroos on their nine yard line. Outside linebacker Patrick Smith (Bluffton, SC / Hilton Head Christian) rushed the QB and made the hit of the game, planting him at the four. Think Arbor Day.
The collision forced a fumble, which freshman defensive end Therian Lewis (Corpus Christi, Tx / Mary Carroll HS) returned four yards for the final points of the game with 7:46 to play.
Defensive Coordinator John Allen's squad was led by tackle Jon Hulett (Corrigan, Tx / Corrigan HS), and the quad-squad of linebackers; Donte Embry (Paris, Tx / Paris HS) and Quentin "Tank" Holloman (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS) on the inside, and Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS) and Smith on the outside.
Holloman and Embry had eight and seven tackles respectively.
On a critical third down play during the first half, Holloman dove and batted down a certain first down catch. The acrobatic play prompted one observer to refer to his effort by connecting both his moniker and the game's location. "He was a Sherman Tank all day!"
Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS) and Nate Kallal (Brighton, Ill / Southwestern HS) were as good as Midas for the defense. They applied the brakes for nine and six tackles. Embry, Smith and Lewis each delivered a QB sack.
The Roos, who had a 4-1 lead in the series versus SAGU, managed two advances of 65 and 59 yards on their final two drives against a substitution-rich defense. Still, SAGU outgained Austin College in total offense, 435-281.
First Half Review
Both the Lions and Rice started quickly. After dashing 11-yards on an option read, he handed off to Sean Haynes (Katy, Tx / Taylor HS), who blasted for ten to midfield. Two plays later Rice faked an inside handoff to Haynes and pumped left at a bubble screen to Burditt.
After glancing over the middle, he pivoted back to his left and feathered a tight spiral to Burditt on a skinny slant. Alone at the 30, the sophomore flyer cruised untouched down the sideline for a 7-0 lead.
Inspired by members of their 1981 national champions who were honored at the game, the Roos struck for two scores after the Lions offense sputtered on successive possessions. Following a 55-yard drive (the big play was an 18-yard Rice-to-Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Seguin HS) pass) to the AC 25 that ended on downs, the hosts responded. They went 66 yards in seven plays for the first of two short TD’s by Brogan Funderburg.
They took a brief lead after a Lions wide receiver fumbled the ball after a 12-yard catch, setting AC up on the Lions 25. Two plays later they scored with 11:01 left in the half. The PAT (point after touchdown) kick was blocked by Hulett.
Rice regrouped and led his team 80 yards in just seven plays to grab a lead they never relinquished.
He drilled a 28-yard strike to Max Whitfield (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS), ran for nine yards and then connected with Burditt for 15. The Lions’ play-calling was varied throughout. The Jungle Cats were especially effective on first downs.
A penalty wiped out a big play to McKinley, bringing about a 2nd-and-24 from the Austin College 31. Rice lofted a sweet pass to Burditt, who cut in front of the safety, lept and snatched the pigskin at the goal line with 6:53 showing on the clock.
Rice almost produced another score before recess.
He triggered a long drive that saw him complete two passes to McKinley, two to Whitfield and two more to Howard before the drive stalled on a sack at the Roos 10.
Godding calls for focus and consistency
“Austin College is a difficult place to play for us,” head coach Jesse Godding said afterwards. “We have struggled there all three years we have played at that venue. Today was no different. We were just mentally tough enough this year to overcome the obstacles (turnovers) on the day.”
“As a team we need to continue to make strides to be more consistent in all phases of the game,” he continued. “We have a difficult stretch of games coming up, beginning with a long trip to Lawrence, Kansas (to play Haskell). We will need to be playing consistent football during that stretch.”
The victory gave SAGU their second win over a Texas team in the same season for the first time ever. Perhaps more firsts await this hungry pride of Lions!
Note: Monday will include more of Coach Godding's post-game interview.