Panhandled: Lions Fall to OPSU, 35-31
Turnovers, Missed Chances Prove Costly
GOODWELL, Oklahoma -- Two turnovers led to a pair of first half touchdowns allowing Oklahoma Panhandle State University to defeat Southwestern Assemblies of God University, 35-31, in a Saturday afternoon college football game.
After cashing in on a Lions interception to start the game, the Aggies returned a SAGU fumble 18 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead they would never relinquish. OPSU (4-3), an NCAA Division II school, managed to win despite gaining only 335 yards, of which 97 were on the ground.
The Lions scored four offensive touchdowns, two apiece by halfback Eddie Bailey, Jr. (Milwaukee, Wisc / John Jay HS) and tight end Dylan Moore (Denton, Tx / Guyer HS), but it was several missed opportunities that helped send SAGU to their sixth loss in seven tries. Earlier setbacks to Austin College and Langston University were eerily similar.
Southwestern head coach Jesse Godding said as much following the game. "It was another heartbreaking loss. But our guys never let up and gave a great effort." The Lions ran 79 offensive plays to just 54 for Panhandle State, but couldn't finish a few opportunities that would haunt them by game's end. At 1-6 overall and 0-3 in the Central States Football League, SAGU continues to display heart and purpose.
After Going "O-for-Oklahoma," the Lions are Coming Home!
It was the team's fourth consecutive game in Oklahoma. By the time the Purple Pride plays host to Northwestern Oklahoma State this Saturday, it will have been six weeks since they have played at home, where they'll play their final three contests.
Second Half Summary
Trailing 28-17 at the half, the Lions applied the clamps to the Aggies while making plays in a spirited rally. Steve Borden (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) forced a fumble on the first play of the third quarter, which was recovered by Jared Hudgins (Midland, Tx / Midland Christian).
Three runs by Bailey picked up 23 yards before Kolby Burns (Dallas, Tx / Duncanville Christway) darted 15 yards to the eight yard line. QB Jeremy Fowler (Caddo Mills, Tx / Caddo Mills HS) then lofted a fade pass to Moore, who went over a defender to make the catch (see photo). He lined up as a wide receiver on the play. The score capped a 46-yard scoring march in seven plays. Trailing by four for the second of three times, they would draw no closer.
After Quentin Holloman (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS) stopped Jose Mendoza on third and one to force a punt, the Lions had very good field position on their own 40. The opportunity was quickly negated by a blocking in the back and a clipping penalty on the first two plays, followed by a dropped pass on the third.
OPSU promptly marched 79 yards in eight plays to score what turned out to be the game winning touchdown. Darryl Brister gained 25 yards on four carries and QB Kevin Lauchland went 4-for-4 in passing, with completions of 6, 13, 20 and again for 20. The latter went to Tyler Northcutt, who had "reservations for six" and a 35-24 third quarter advantage. It would be their only scoring play of the second half.
The Lions marched to the Aggies 46, sparked by Fowler passes of 14 to Uriah Lester (Austin, Tx / Reagan HS) and 12 to Darion Waits (Waxahachie, Tx / Ennis, HS). A penalty stalled that drive as well.
SAGU forced the hosts into another punt, giving the Golden Domers possession at their own 24.
Fowler led a 74 yard march with a wide array of plays before zipping a 3-yard scoring dart to Moore with 9:30 to go in the game. James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) added his third point after touchdown kick.
There were a few huge plays that kept the chains moving during the drive. Bailey picked up seven yards on third and one at the SAGU 35. From the Aggies 25, Fowler connected with Detrick Green (Italy, Tx / Italy HS) for 17 yards. Finally, the touchdown to Moore. On fourth and three he went over the middle, but was well covered. In fact, a linebacker had inside position when Fowler deftly wristed the pigskin. Moore cut in front and practically swiped the ball that looked like it would be intercepted by OSU. Statisticians wrestled with whether Moore's catch should be listed as a reception or an interception.
"Now that was a great catch," Bailey said after the game. "It was a beautiful play. He just wanted the ball more. He had super hands on his first TD too."
Southwestern had plenty of time to complete the comeback. But it would not happen.
The defense stiffened and forced another punt when 6'3 linebacker James Kirksey (Ft. Smith, Ark / Southside HS) broke up a third down pass. The offense took over on the SAGU 35 with 5:28 remaining. They crossed midfield on a 12-yard pass to 6-foot-2 wideout Anthony Morris, Jr. (Houston, Tx / Alief Hastings HS) and a short gainer on a toss to Burns.
That's when Oklahoma Panhandle came up with a major break. Fowler's pass, intended for Waits, was tipped and picked off by Christopher Robinson at the OPSU 41.
Again, the defense wouldn't budge. Linebackers Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS, Univ. of North Texas) and Dante Embry (Paris, Tx / Paris HS) each made two tackles, resulting in an Aggie punt. Heathcock returned it 15 yards, setting up shop for the offense on the SAGU 44 with just 0:26 showing.
A 15-yard penalty on OPSU and a Fowler to Green completion tacked on 13 yards. From the 28 yard line the Lions had time for two plays. Fowler was forced to throw the first one away when he couldn't locate an open receiver. With 0:04 left, he lobbed up a desperation heave in the end zone in the direction of Green. Two passes that fell incomplete, as did a solid effort by the Lions. It was that close.
Statistics: Team Totes
Southwestern outgained Panhandle State in total offense, 449 to just 335. The Lions had a 21-18 edge in first downs. Yards Rushing: SAGU 125, OPSU 97. Both teams had a number of costly penalties and each squad committed three turnovers. The difference was in who better capitalized on their opponents' mistakes.
First Half Overview
The Aggies jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead by scoring on their first two possessions. They had a short field after they intercepted a tipped pass by Fowler at the Lions 44. Eight plays later Darryl Brister powered his way in from four yards out for a 6-0 lead.
After a SAGU punt, they quickly rolled 60 yards in six plays. Lauchland got almost all of it in one play. On 3rd-and-19 he teamed up with Steve Olopo for 58 yards. He would've scored had it not been for a tackle by Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Juan Seguin HS). Mendoza powered his way in from four yards out. A two point conversion pass lifted the home team on top by a 14-0 count.
Bailey Rockets down the Sideline
The Lions' cashed in on their third possession. The drive was maintained when Fowler found Green on a third down pass for seven yards. From the Aggies 35 the sophomore signal caller pump-faked on an in-route by Waits, then pitched a short flair pass to Bailey. Having begun the play by pass blocking, Bailey flaired out of the backfield, made an over the shoulder catch and turned on the afterburners!
McKinley swung momentum strongly in favor of SAGU when he made an interception to stop a drive. The Purple Pride advanced to the OPSU 43 after a 23-yard reception by Moore. He stepped in at WR for Micah Burditt (Midland, Tx / Midland Robert E. Lee HS), who left the game with a head injury in the opening minutes. Fowler was sacked on 4th and six, ending the drive.
SAGU took over on their 18 after forcing a punt. Bailey took a pitchout wide and as he cut up field, a defender yanked his facemask (no penalty was called). The action prompted a fumble near the sideline. Robinson was there, scooped up the ball and easily waltzed to the goal line. Oklahoma Panhandle had re-established their two TD lead at 21-7.
The remainder of the game saw the teams swap scores.
Getting Their Growl On!
The Lions used their sixth possession to go 70 yards, using 13 plays and milk 6:31 off the clock. Bailey kick-started the drive with an 18 yard dash to the OPSU 40. On 3rd-and-11 from the 41, Fowler got the ball to the likeable Waits, whose catch and run gained 15 yards.
Bailey churned up chunks of nine and four yards before Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Katy Faith West HS, Texas State Univ) came in at QB. He called his own number on three option plays, articulating the ball to the four yard line.
Jason Rice: Triple Threat QB
Coach Godding called a time out as the team faced a fourth and goal decision. He considered a pass play but chose instead an option running play. Rice took the snap and went towards the sideline while Bailey trailed as his option. The junior QB lateraled to Bailey, who made a move outside, then cut back in and scored untouched with 4:40 left in the half.
The Lions defense then presented the offense with a golden opportunity. On the first play after the kickoff, Embry, a junior LB, made a sweet read and intercepted the ball at the Aggies 26.
A 15-yard personal foul penalty against Panhandle and a 6-yard slash by Bailey had the Jungle Kings knocking at the door. Fowler wasn't able to connect the dots on a pass in the direction of Waits, and the team had to settle for a chip shot field goal. Gish split the uprights from 22 yards and the Lions were within 21-17 with just 1:55 to go before intermission.
The Aggies did not sit on the lead. Lauchland completed 4-of-5 passes as he efficiently led his troops downfield. The play that got them untracked was a 10-yard pass to Isaiah Warren on a 3rd-and-9 play. The last two plays of the drive were passes to WR Doug Williams. The first went for 28 on third and two, and then he spotted him open in the secondary for a 19-yard TD and a 28-17 scoreboard bulge.
The Lions actually squeezed in a last-gasp-blast before the half. On 4th-and-7 from the OPSU 44, rather than punt, Fowler fired deep for Green. Last year's leading rusher, Green made the catch but was tackled nine yards short of the end zone.
Player Stat Leaders
Bailey finished with 88 yards and 15 carries, with Burns and Rice adding 21 and 19. Look to see much more of Burns this Saturday. The 5-foot-6, 160 yard freshman scat-back rushed for over 7,000 yards playing six-man football in high school. In the open field he can be like trying to catch smoke with a strainer.
Fowler completed 28-of-46 for 324 yards and three scores. Waits was his choice target making 7 catches for 52 yards.
Southwestern will host NW Oklahoma State (5-2) this Saturday, October 30, at 2:00pm. The Rangers boast one of the nation's best running games, led by senior RB Nate Guillory.
SAGU Sports Live Broadcast
The Game will be broadcast on the internet and many iPhone systems. Directions for accessing this free service is on the bottom of the Athletics home page. The live video-streaming will come to you in Hi-Def.
Final Two Home Games
Southwestern will play host to Haskell Indian Nations Institute on Saturday, November 6. The 2pm kickoff will highlight SAGU's annual homecoming festivities. The season finale will be on Nov. 13 when Texas College visists Waxahachie.