Rangers Lasso Lions, 44-7
Front Seven Grounds Northwestern Ground Attack
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- On a day when the defense of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University football played superbly, the Lions still fell to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, 44-7.
SAGU held the #17 ranked Rangers to two first downs and 35 yards in the first half, and shutdown the nation's leading rusher from 2009, Nate Guillory, to just 21 yards. He had over 1,600 yards as a junior and entered the game with 790 yards while averaging 6.2 per tote.
The Lions defensive line dominated against a Northwestern team that averaged 236 yards a game on the ground. They finished with 152, much of it gained once the game was in hand.
Carnivorous D turns in great effort
Northwestern, now 6-2 , managed 269 yards and were limited to just 56 plays. They had averaged 430-yds. The defensive front made a number of plays behind the line of scrimmage, had several quarterback sacks, forced and recovered two fumbles and broke up a pass. The linebacking unit, always the heart of coordinator John Allen's defense, made six tackles for lost yardage.
Senior inside linebacker Jared Hudgins (Midland, Tx / Midland Christian) led with seven tackles. The play of defensive end Ike Caston (Dallas, Tx / A+ Academy), who had six tackles, was huge. Two-time All-Conference defensive tackle, Johnathan Hulett (Corrigan, Tx / Corrigan HS), played large and was in charge. His quickness and strength was on display as he burst into the backfield and stopped Guillory (pronounced GILL-ur-ee) at least twice with solo tackles.
DE Steve Borden (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) continues his outstanding play, and OLB Alex Moore (Breckenridge, Tx / Breckenridge HS), DT Ryan McCray (Daytona Beach, Fla / Mainland HS) and Donte Embry (Paris, Tx / Paris HS) were drawn to the ball like to moths to a flame. Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Univ of North Texas / Wakeland HS), a speedy defender, has moved from outside 'backer to safety. He made five stops.
The defensive effort, however, didn't produce a victory on account of five turnovers and a handful of missed opportunities by the offense and costly miscues by the special teams.
Plus, the Lions were missing three key offensive players. Halfback Eddie Bailey, Jr. (Milwaukee, Wisc / John Jay HS), wideout Micah Burditt (Midland, Tx / Robert E. Lee HS) and tackle R.J. Hunt (Midlothian, Tx / Midlothian HS) all were absent, the latter two with lingering injuries. Bailey has over 600 yards and averages almost seven yards per carry. He has has 22 receptions. Burditt (BURR-dett) has 20 catches.
First Half: Deadlocked at 7-7
The score was tied 7-7 at the half. SAGU scored on the game's longest drive by either team. QB Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Texas State Univ / Katy Faith West HS) led a ten-play, 59 yard march, in which he dashed untouched up the middle from two yards out. James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) booted the extra point.
Northwestern's lone score came when Clayton Smith returned a loose ball four yards for a TD after a high snap sailed over punter Jeremy Fowler (Caddo Mills, Tx / Caddo Mills HS).
Third Quarter Snowball
The Rangers took possession on three consecutive possessions to begin the third quarter, all inside the SAGU 45 yard line following short punts into a very stiff wind. Each time they opened their playbook to get into scoring position, racking up 17 points and a 24-7 lead. Guillory took a pitch from sophomore quarterback Kyle Jech and zoomed 17 yards for their first offensive touchdown. The second came less than three minutes later. Jech (Yeck) connected with the CSFL's leading receiver, Korey Williams, in the left corner of the end zone from 31 yards out with 9:03 left in the third stanza.
Early in the fourth the Lions had NWOSU stopped on a sack by Borden. The play was nullified on a very questionable personal foul penalty on the sack by another Lions defender, giving the Rangers a first down in SAGU territory. Jech found Kent McDonald in a seam in the secondary for a 28 yard gain. He would've scored if not chased down by Hudgins.
From the Lions nine yard line, Jech spotted Mike Frame open on the right, but Cleo Fields (Wichita, Ks / Zion Academy) recovered and batted the pass away. On the next play cornerback Nick Ekanem (Richmond, Tx / B.F. Terry HS) injured his knee in coverage and was knocked out of the game by a punch from McDonald. No flag was thrown though the blow was delivered in front of the side judge. On that play Jech rolled to his right and went back to Frame, who held on this time for a 31-7 lead.
Southwestern drove to their 48 on the next possession. One second and four, Fowler looked for Darion Waits (Waxahachie, Tx / Ennis HS), his top wide receiver. Brock Wardlaw jumped the route in the right flat and trotted 48 yards for a "pick six."
From Tied to Lost in Fifteen Minutes
In a span of 15:13, Northwestern had scored 31 points. They had 23 offensive plays and 7 first downs to 16 and one for SAGU since halftime.
The Lions, with the wind at their back in the fourth quarter, couldn't get untracked. On fourth down, a low snap led to Fowler's punt getting blocked by Smith. Augie McCulley recovered the ball on the SAGU seven yard line. Three plays later Jech hit Frame on a quick 5-yard slant and a 44-7 lead with 8:44 left.
Fowler completed 10-of-19 passes in the fourth period for 63 yards and three picks. The longest offensive pick-up went for nine yards as the Rangers kept their safeties within ten yards of the line of scrimmage and squeezed the receivers.
Second Half Scoring Chances
He marched the team with his controlled passing game to midfield before the drive stalled. From punt formation he faked the kick and drilled a pass to Dylan Moore (Denton, Tx / Denton Guyer HS), who made a great catch over the middle for a 19 yard gain. The drive reached the Rangers 25 before Daniel Golden drifted over to steal pass intended for Waits, who had beaten his man on a post route.
The Lions had another chance in the fourth. The special teams redeemed themselves with one of two great plays. Patrick Smith (Bluffton, SC / Hilton Head Christian), a 6-foot-4 junior, blocked a punt. It was recovered by Alex Moore at the Northwestern 36. Three plays later Jake Streck picked off a tight spiral headed for Dylan Moore at the Rangers' 19.
In the end, Northwestern overcame the Lions defensive charge with big plays and turnovers. The win, their sixth in a row, clinched the Central States Football League championship. A week earlier they won a critical game at Langston, 20-13.
First Half Scoring Chances
The Lions controlled the ball and the clock in the first half. On their initial trip with the ball they marched into the NWOSU red zone (18 yd line), sparked by a key 13-yard pass to D. Moore. The drive came up short and Gish was wide right on a 40-yard field goal try.
They later artriculated the ball to the Rangers 25, where they were forced to settle for another field goal attempt. Gish just missed to the left from 42 yards away. Fowler hit Waits for 12 and Detrick Green (Italy, Tx / Italy HS) for 14 during the yardage parade.
Another bid to score was stopped on downs at the Northwestern 23. The Lions' biggest gainer of the night came when Moore zigged and zagged for 39 on a catch and run after gathering in a Fowler pass over the middle.
The Lions had a total of five possessions that reached into Rangers territory in the first half. The last two were equally frustrating.
The defense was roaring all day, play after play. Caston, Quentin Holloman (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS), Frank Agbemaple (Euless, Tx / Trinity HS) (AGE-may-pul, silent 'b') and "Country" Moore all contributed to tackles on a Ranger possession. On third down, Borden was Guster's "One man Wrecking Machine" on one play. He sacked the quarterback, knocked the ball out of his hands, and then retrieved the loose ball on the Rangers 19.
A run by fullback LaVar Boston (Richmond, Tx / B.F. Terry HS) gained two before Green took a handoff and slashed for six more. On third and two from the 11, the exchange from QB to Boston was mishandled, though Boston did recover it for SAGU. Gish's third bid for a three-point kick was block by J.T. Hall. Richard Gunnels returned the ball for a touchdown (72 yards), which would've given the Rangers two returns in the first half. However, a needless blocking violation late in the runback nullified the score.
The SAGU defense stuffed the Rangers as they tried to cash the break into points. Holloman forced Jech to fumble and Borden recovered on the Lions 41.
Rice-a-Runi: Lions Score on Game's Longest Drive
From there the Golden Domers moved 59 yards for a score. Fowler tossed to D. Moore for 16 yards, then Rice came in and ran off right tackle for 12. Fowler returned and zipped a six yard strike to Uriah Lester (Austin, Tx / Reagan HS), who was open in the slot. From the Rangers 21, Southwestern faced third down and one.
Rice trotted onto the field and ran the option. His fake handoff hoodwinked the Rangers, and the junior scurried for 11 yards to move the chains. Three plays later he duplicated the option fake, this time to his left, concealing the pigskin before busting a move by left guard for the score.
Gish then hit a pooch on the kickoff, which was recovered by Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Juan Seguin HS) at the Northwestern 36. The Lions team and home crowd were making noise!
It was quickly hushed on the very next play when a Rice pitchout to the left was muffed and the Rangers recovered. Which is what they did after halftime as well. They 'recovered' after a less than inspiring first half in which they were penalized twelve times and appeared very unfocused.
Close Games that Got Away
The defeat was the fourth time this season the Lions shutdown an opponent (see Austin College, Howard Payne and Oklahoma Panhandle) only to lose in the second half. The Lions also led Southern Nazarene after two quarters, 13-7, only to lose.
Individually, SAGU was led by Rice, who rushed for 35 yards. The leading receivers were Moore, who reeled in seven for 100 yards; Green six for 22 and Waits four for 27 yards.
Nov. 13: Homecoming versus Haskell
Southwestern has two home games remaining in the 2010 campaign. Next Saturday, November 13, they play host to Haskell Indian Nations University (1-7), who are from Lawrence, Kansas. The Fighting Indians have a 1-7 record following Saturday's 21-10 loss to Waldorf College (Iowa). Their win came a month ago, 27-14, over Trinity Bible College (ND), the same team that SAGU defeated in September. Both SAGU and HINU overcame halftime deficits to post wins over the team from North Dakota.
The Lions expect Bailey to return to the backfield. Burditt could also be activated, which would be a big lift to the receiving corps.
SAGU Sports Live to broadcast Haskell game
The Haskell game is set for a 2:00pm (CST) kickoff. The game will be broadcast live by video streaming in high definition free of charge to viewers everywhere, both on the internet as well as on many phone systems
The final game of the season will take place the following Saturday, Nov. 20, at 2:00pm. Southwestern welcomes Texas College to Lumpkins Stadium. The Steers are a fellow member of the CSFL and the only other NAIA football team in the state of Texas.