Lions lose two-TD lead, fall to SNU
Storm, turnovers spoil upset bid
SAGU to host Bacone College on Oct. 8
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- "Opportunity is a bird that never perches," said the late Claude McDonald. When they appeared on Saturday in a college football game, one team succeeded at making the most of their chances.
Southern Nazarene University dodged several bullets and overcame a 14-point deficit to hand Southwestern Assemblies of God University a 56-17 defeat.
SAGU shutout the #11 ranked Crimson Storm for the first twenty three minutes while building a two touchdown lead. What followed were three golden scoring opportunities to extend that margin. Each was missed.
“Well, you have to recognize the situation for what it is and was,” SAGU head coach Jesse Godding said afterwards. “We put ourselves in a great opportunity by jumping up early. But then we fumbled twice in the red zone, made a huge mental mistake on an interception that was returned for a touchdown. They (SNU) are good; there is no doubt about that. And good teams take advantage of mistakes.”
The Crimson Storm (5-0) recovered and scored a pair of quick touchdowns to tie the game, then returned an interception for a third, all in the span of less than four minutes. Given a reprieve from what could have been a huge deficit, senior QB Brady Wardlaw went on to pass for 5 TD’s against a Lions defense that was forced onto the field too often by an offense that turned the ball over six times.
Wardlaw connected with Jarod Martin three times for scores and the Storm defense returned a second interception the distance as what once was a very good game, got away from a solid Lions ballclub.
Defense, Special Teams have their moments
SAGU held Nazarene to 459 yards, about 100 under their average. They forced the nation’s highest scoring team to punt a season-most nine times, four more than their previous high.
What will be remembered most in the match-up between #11 ranked SNU and an SAGU team that was among the nationally-ranked for the first time in school history, were the opportunities they didn’t seize.
A long drive, engineered by sophomore QB Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne Univ., Grandview HS), went from the SAGU 11 to the SNU 12, where a fumble spoiled a great march. Max Whitfield (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) reeled in a 39-yard catch-and-run play to spark the deep push against the nation’s #2 ranked defense.
The special teams blocked a pair of punts; by Frank Agbemaple (Euless, Tx / Trinity HS) and Patrick Smith (Bluffton, SC / Hilton Head Christian), giving the Lions the ball at the Crimson Storm 26 and 14 yard lines. Joey Vinson (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) ran the second one back to the 14.
The first chance was nixed by a Lions fumble at the 16. The other was converted into a 2-play scoring drive when Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Faith West HS) barreled over from 8 yards out on a run off left tackle.
SNU coughed up the ball on a hit by Jonathan Hulett (Corrigan, Tx / Corrigan HS). Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS) laid claim to the ball on the Crimson 38. The Lions would punt four plays later.
Vaulting to 14-0 lead
The Big Cats took the opening kickoff and paraded to paydirt with Rice at the helm. A first down inside run by Sean Haynes (Katy, Tx / Taylor HS) picked up eight. Rice drilled a 13-yard pick-up to Whitfield near the left sideline. Haynes followed by scorching the Storm with another run. He bounced outside and zoomed 39 yards down the sideline to the six. (see photo on right)
Rice quickly capped the four-play, 66-yard drive when he zipped a scoring dart to David Howard (Dayton, Tx / Dayton HS) just 1:39 into the game. Howard found a seam over the middle and latched onto a quick pass from Rice. (see photo of TD above)
The defense doused the Storm during their first six possessions, coaxing five punts and a fumble. Impressive considering SNU’s #1 rated offense was averaging 52 ppg.
We fought the 'Law...
Eventually, though, Wardlaw would begin to connect the dots. His first TD came when he hit Martin inside against zone coverage, and he cut against the grain and scored from the 49. He deep-sixed double-coverage on a 51-yard TD aerial to Terrence Smith.
After a 31-yd punt return to the SAGU 25 by Jordan Newby with 0:54 remaining, Wardlaw threw to Martin in the left corner on jump ball. Martin got away with a huge push-off as the ball descended, but the play counted and SNU had control of the lead and momentum at the half, 28-14.
Following a 3-and-out forced by the defense, the Lions offense lost a fumble on their first possession in the third period. The Storm capitalized, going 36 yards in four plays. Wardlaw rolled-out and then rolled-in from the 12 for a commanding 35-14 advantage.
Getting there from here
Southwestern, 3-2, still has plenty to play for, despite the disappointing turn of events at Lumpkins Stadium. The top two teams in the Central States Football League can qualify for the NAIA playoffs. That goal is very much in reach.
Coach Godding spoke with confidence that the team will show its resolve and tenacity by bouncing back. “Coming back,” he said, “the key will be to move beyond the pain of the lost opportunity and realize what you can control going forward.”
“This team and our coaches will move beyond this loss,” Godding continued. “We’ll work to separate the good from the bad to become stronger as we get ready for our next game.”
October 8, home versus Bacone College, 6pm
Next Saturday, October 8, the Lions will take on Bacone College (1-5) in Waxahachie. The kickoff is set for 6:00pm. The game will be broadcast in HD by SAGU Sports Live.
Other positives the coaching staff will draw upon were cited by Godding.
“Our kicking game has turned out to be very solid,” he said. “Stephen Stewart (Magnolia, Tx / Magnolia West HS) and the punt team performed very well. Sean (Haynes) continues to improve at the running back position. And our run defense is solid! Added to that, our D-Linemen and linebackers continue to improve.”
Head Athletic Trainer Jaroy Carpenter said the team came through the game relatively unscathed, with no measureable injuries. “Just the normal bumps and bruises,” he said. “We’re in good shape.”
Detailed Game Stats
Complete statistics on the game, as well as mid-season team and player totals can be found by clicking on the CSFL and/or NAIA links on the athletic home page.
Photo Gallery available
Photos by Steve Patterson. To view and/or purchase over 600 photos of the game, cheerleaders, fans, the band, pre-game coin toss, SAGU Sports Live sideline crew, etc., visit http://www.movingpictures.photoreflect.com