Lions lose second half lead, game
NWOSU rallies from 31-20 deficit
Rice, Howard, Embry pace SAGU effort against Rangers
ALVA, Oklahoma -- Senior quarterback Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Texas State Univ., Faith West HS) ran for two touchdowns, including a 97-yarder as Southwestern Assemblies of God University extended a 14-0 lead to 31-20 early in the third quarter. The football Lions were then victims to a huge rally by Northwestern Oklahoma State University who went on to post a 62-39 triumph.
The Rangers were the pre-season pick to defend their 2010 championship in the Central States Football League after winning their 7th crown last fall. Injuries, however, caused them to stumble. The win improved their record to 4-5 in all games and 3-2 in the CSFL.
Southwestern, once 3-1 after a month of action, dropped their fifth in a row to slide to 3-6 and 0-4 (CSFL). The setback follows similar efforts this season in which the squad has demonstrated the ability to build leads against solid opponents only to surrender the advantage in the second half.
Still, the team shown improvement with much to like this fall.
Best-selling author of "Adrift, 76 Days Lost at Sea," Steve Callahan spoke of his saving flotation device as being as "plump a melon." Like a melon, there are seeds to expel, and the Lions could easily be contending for the CSFL save for a handful of turnovers.
Third quarter impetus sways momentum
Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne Univ) connected with David Howard (Dayton, Tx / Dayton HS) on a 75-yard scoring strike on the third play of the second half for a 31-20 margin. The Golden Domers had yet to trail.
A short kickoff (29 yards) and return set the Rangers up at midfield. Following an offside penalty against the Lions, Jared Jackson bolted 45 yards for a Northwestern score on their first play of the half.
After a three-and-out when the Lions couldn’t convert a third-and-two running play, the Rangers struck quickly again. Junior QB Kyle Jech drove them 89-yards in seven plays, sparked by a 66-yard catch and run by Andrew King to the Southwestern one. Jackson ran it in for a 34-31 lead with 8:14 left in the period.
Following a 31-yard kickoff return by freshman O’Shae Cofer (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) set up shop for the Lions at their 43, the tide changed permanently. A fumble after a completed pass on the next play was recovered by NWOSU. Three plays later Hunter Wolf ran 20 yards across the goal line for a 41-31 Ranger lead.
Another O’Shae kick runback gave SAGU possession on their 34. The Lions lost a fumbled pitch on the next play. Northwestern wasted little time cashing in. Taylor Hooper found King for a 28-yard TD on the ensuing play, which took only four seconds.
The black-shirted Rangers were turning out the lights on SAGU, scoring four TD’s in 6:31. They held a commanding 48-31 lead they never relinquished.
SAGU moved into the red zone in the fourth, thanks to a 13-yard pass to Howard and a 23-yard dash to the 10-yd line by Golson. A sack, lost yardage on a running play and an incomplete pass stalled the drive. A 36-yard field goal was wide right.
The NWOSU added two more scores before the Golson drove the Purple Pride 49 yards, capping the march with a 9-yard toss to Howard. The sophomore QB converted a two-point conversion run in the fourth quarter to end the scoring.
Summarizing the outcome
“Northwestern’s offense played very well,” said head coach Jesse Godding . “In the end, they were too strong for our defense.”
He mentioned the momentum swing in the third quarter as the turning point.
“Their first possession after we scored in the second half (resulted in a TD),” he pointed out, “then our next two possessions produced turnovers. They scored on both of those. That portion of the game was critical.”
In surrendering 42 unanswered points after playing so well for the majority of the game, the coach praised the opponent as well connecting their effort to several defensive injuries, turnovers and the mistakes of youth.
Solid start by the offensive troops
Southwestern executed extremely well in the first half, especially on offense.
“We were running the ball well and we used some play action,” Godding commented. “We got some big plays from the quarterback and wide receiver positions.”
He highlighted the contributions of Rice and Howard on offense and senior linebacker Richard Donte Embry (Paris, Tx / Paris HS) whose play drew his attention. Rice rushed for 90 yards on 14 totes and two TD’s. Howard gained 97 yards by snaring six passes, scoring twice. Embry led the defense with nine stops.
The offense finished with 415 yards, including 193 on the ground. SAGU had three giveaways, all on fumbles, and were penalized 103 yards. Once they got rolling, NWOSU churned out 612 yards, 269 rushing. They had one turnover and were assessed 145 yards in penalties.
First half review
After Rice’s 97-yard scoring jaunt, he found Malcolm “Max” Whitfield (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) from the SAGU 40. The freshman (four receptions, 79 yards) jetted 60 yards to paydirt and a 14-0 lead.
Rice led the troops to the Ranger 32, where the team was forced to try a 50-yard field goal. Sophomore James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) drilled it between the uprights to go up 17-7 before the period ended.
The Rangers tied the score at 17 after converting a fumble into an Edgar Colmenares 22-yd field goal midway through the second stanza.
Next came a 26-yard punt to position the Rangers at the SAGU 30. The Lions defense snarled.
Tackles by Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS) and Embry slowed the Pokes before safety Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS) broke up a third-and-five Jech to Kent McDonald pass. Colmenares missed from 42 yards out.
Rice then assembled an inspiring 10-play, 75-yard scoring trip. He muscled his way for a seven yard pick-up, and then got 15-yards tacked on due to a facemask penalty.
Sean Haynes (Katy, Tx / Taylor HS) then sped through the Ranger secondary on a 26-yard dash to the eight yard line. Rice carried the ball on a one-yard keeper for a TD and a 24-17 lead with just 0:24 left in the first half.
NW Oklahoma State was able to answer with a late score. The kickoff from SAGU went out of bounds, giving the Rangers position at their 40. After a penalty against the Lions, Jech completed a pass to the Lions 28. Colmenares booted a 45-yard to end the half with SAGU nursing a 24-20 lead.
Following bye week, Lions face Texas College
SAGU will close the 2011 season on Saturday, November 12, in Tyler against Texas College. One more victory will equal the most wins in a season for the Lions.