Lions vs Lions: SAGU at Langston
Can Purple Pride Change Familiar Pattern?
LANGSTON, Oklahoma -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University's football team is all too familiar with the trip to Langston's Anderson Stadium. The school is located near I-35 in north-central Oklahoma, just thirty-five miles northeast of Oklahoma City.
Having yet to beat them on their home turf, the SAGU Lions were hoping to finally get Langston to make their initial 247 mile trek to Waxahachie's Lumpkins Stadium this season. But plans changed and once again it is SAGU who is both the visitor and homecoming opponent for today's 2:00pm kickoff.
Senior linebacker Alex Moore (Breckenridge, Tx / Breckenridge HS) was very disappointed at the change of venue. "Since I won't ever get the chance to play them here," he said at the start of the 2010 season, "then it would be extra sweet to beat them there."
SAGU Road Warrior Travel Tips
Southwestern fans making the trip can expect to find available tickets in short supply and the price to park fairly steep. Game tickets reportedly sell for $20 with parking entry in the $15 range. The Langston band alone is said to be worth the trip.
In a battle of teams who share Lions as their mascot, the only team enjoying sweetness in the short series between them are Langston's Lions. Last fall they forced a number of early turnovers enroute to a 37-10 victory.
Saturday's dual will favor the hosts, clad in navy blue and orange. The LU Lions are 3-2 overall and are 1-0 in the Central States Football League. With a homecoming crowd expected to number in the neighborhood of 20,000, the SAGU Lions (1-4, 0-2) have their work cut out for them.
About the Langston Lions
Coach Greg Johnson's Cats in recent seasons have dominated with defense and a powerful running game. This year, however, they are averaging 328 yards of total offense, with 216 of it coming through the air. They are converting a league-best 54% of their third downs into first downs.
On defense they're grudgingly yielding 254 yards per game, the best in the CSFL by 84 yards per game over 2nd best Bacone College. They are particularly tough to move against through the air, surrendering only 132 yards per outing. Officials have raised their arms just once for an opponent who crossed the goal as a result of an aerial reception.
The Lions have a pair of QB's who have made an impact as passers. Junior Darrion Lewis has completed 53 of 88 tosses (60%), good for 187 yards per game and 7 TD's. Senior Chad Miller is 29-of-60 for 111 yards per game. Their favorite target is Tony Cotton, who has snared 19 balls for 10 yards per play. Kor'Darien Mathis and RB Carlos Ross have each caught 13 passes. Mathis gains a whopping 21.3 yards per play.
Ross, a junior halfback, is third in the CSFL in rushing with 386 yards, 3 TD's and a 4.3 yards per carry average.
On the defensive side, LU is paced by senior LB Cayetano Hingle, who averages 7.2 tackles per game. Antonio Dennard, a junior, leads the Lions in picks with three. Sophomore Isiah Ross has made two.
About the Southwestern Lions
What happens in Vegas is 321 yards per game when the Lions have the ball, just slightly below their 2009 figure (330). Their ground attack has almost doubled, from 72 ypg last fall to 130 this year through five games. SAGU passes for 191 ypg, much less of a threat than their 260 per game last autumn. The spread offense is converting only 30% of their third down attempts.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the defensive unit has endured a few bad outings of late. Opponents are gaining 435 ypg, which ranks SAGU last in the CSFL. In losses to Southern Nazarene and Bacone, SAGU gave up well over 500 yards per contest. Since the SAGU run defense has been stellar, teams have turned to the air and have found more success (323 ypg) than desired by Southwestern defenders.
Individual leaders on offense include QB's Jeremy Fowler (Caddo Mills, Tx / Caddo Mills HS) and Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Faith West HS / Texas State Univ) starting two and three games respectively. Fowler is 88 of 152 (58%), with 4 TD's and 6 INT's. Rice, who has excelled at running out of the spread, has been good on 18 of 50 attempts, with a 1-0 INT to TD ratio. He has run for 171 yards in less than three games. He has recovered well from a sprained knee injury.
The Lions top receiving threat is senior Darion Waits (Waxahachie, Tx / Ennis HS) with 20 catches, averaging 6.8 per. Others include Micah Burditt (Midland, Tx / Lee HS) 17 for 10.2; RB Eddie Bailey, Jr. (Milwaukee, Wisc / John Jay HS) 17 for 8.9; Anthony Morris, Jr. (Houston, Tx / Alief Hastings HS) 15 for 9.9; Nathaniel Pruitt (Ft. Worth, Tx / Western Hills HS) 12 for 16.0; and TE Dylan Moore (Denton, Tx / Denton Guyer HS) 8 for 7.1.
Bailey is fourth in the CSFL in rushing, with 376 yards on 57 carries. His 6.6 yards per tote is third best in the Top Ten. He has run for 5 TD's midway through the season. In 2009, freshman Detrick Green (Italy, Tx / Italy HS) picked up 368 to lead the team for the season.
SAGU has lost three key backs for the rest of the season, including most recently, Dylan Jensen (Georgetown, Tx / Georgetown HS), to a second concussion.
Defensively, senior inside LB Jared Hudgins (Midland, Tx / Midland Christian) again is tops in the CSFL in tackles at 10.6 per game. The All-American is fourth in tackles for lost yardage with 7.0 for the year. Freshman Steve Borden (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) has come on since switching from TE to DE, where his 5.0 tackles for a loss is 12th in the CSFL.
LB Quentin Holloman (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS) is 10th in tackles at 5.8 stops per contest, while All-American CB Nick Ekanem (Richmond, Tx / BF Terry HS / Arkansas State) is 15th at 5.2. OLB Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS / Evangel Univ) is 17th at 5.0 tackles per game.
CB Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Juan Seguin HS) and DT Johnathan Hulett (Corrigan, Tx / Corrigan HS) both average 4.5 tackles per game.
Junior safety Joey Vinson (Patterson, La / Patterson HS) was making 4.2 bring-downs per contest when he suffered a season and potentially career-ending shoulder injury last week at Bacone. He will undergo surgery next week. Three weeks ago he was #3 in the nation in interceptions after he picked off his third. He will be sorely missed. Sophomore Jonathan Bailey (Seagoville, Tx / Seagoville HS) replaced him last week.
Currently, Ekanem (pronounced EE-kon-um) and Vinson have three interceptions apiece, while Holloman has two. Ekanem, McKinley and Vinson are 1-2-3 in the CSFL in passes broken up with 10, 8 and 5, indicating how often teams have thrown against the Lions defense.
Langston averages 19.8 ppg to Southwestern's 18.4. Defensively, LU allows 22.2 compared SAGU's 36.6.
Red River Crossings
Southwestern's 2010 schedule has a desert-like valley in which the Lions do not play at home for five weeks and includes four consecutive road trips into Oklahoma. Saturday's game at Langston is the third of four jaunts north of the Red River (Tx-Ok border). October 23rd is the last, when the Purple Pride goes to Goodwell to face Oklahoma Panhandle State University. The Aggies edged SAGU last year in double OT, 50-48.
When the Lions return home, Oct. 30, it doesn't get any easier. Northwest Oklahoma State, arguably the best team in the CSFL, comes to Lumpkins Stadium. SAGU then closes the season with two more home games; November 6 vs. Haskell (homecoming) and Nov. 13 vs. Texas College.