FB Lions host 'Roos at 7:00pm
Preview of Saturday's Game
Golden domers clash; SAGU, Austin College
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Saturday’s seventh meeting between friendly football rivals Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Austin College appears to be a clash of opposites; the speed of the Lions and the power of the ‘Roos.
Fresh from a 27-17 road win over Howard Payne University, the host Lions hope to build on the many positives from their first win. They scored the game’s final 24 points with a defense that forced six turnovers and an opportunistic offense.
Austin College, from Sherman, Texas, wants to avenge back-to-back defeats in which they lost their grip of first half leads. Their games have been a tale of two halves.
The game will kickoff at 7:00pm (CST) at Waxahachie’s Lumpkins Stadium.
The National Weather Service is expecting a 40% chance of light showers to begin around 5:00pm. Milder temperatures in the low 80's should prevail. Slight winds from the north-northwest will have little effect on the game.
The Kangaroos have taken four of the six games in the series. The Lions own wins in the third and sixth games, including last year's 35-13 triumph. (See history of scores below)
Comparing the Offenses, Defenses
Two commonalities the teams share are their golden domes and offenses that yearn to bust loose. The Lions average 279 yards per contest while the Roos are at 277.
SAGU operates the spread option; a triple-threat quarterback who can stretch defenses to cover his choices to pass, to handoff or to run. Motion and play-action fakes allow him to make decisions in real time based on the defense’s reaction.
Basically, as they try to cover his options, they’re likely spreading themselves thin. In short, the QB orders off the menu while speeding through the drive-thru.
Whereas AC prefers a power running attack with wingbacks, a fullback, tight ends and plenty of machismo. Stop it if you can or meet the road-grader.
The garnet and gold are picking up 158 yards per game on the ground at 3.5 per carry. A positive so far is their limited turnovers (5).
Nineteen pass attempts per game for 120 yards reveals an aerial barrage is rare, or that it’s overdue.
The Lions marching success has been limited by injuries to both their offensive line and to running backs. Less than half of their 2011 average, this year’s squad has run for just 73 yards at 2.1 per tote.
They’ve gotten it done through the air instead.
Completing 58% of their throws for 14.7 yards per catch, the Purple Pride’s 206 yards is their per game norm. Like Austin College, SAGU has five turnovers (three on fumbles) in two games.
Across the line of scrimmage is where things differ.
The Lions permit opponents 13.5 points and 300 yards per outing.
The opposition is running for 155 at 4.6 per carry. When they drop back to pass, however, their 145 yards has come at a steep price: seven interceptions, six by the starting cornerbacks.
Southwestern has bent but not broken through two games. Their 10 takeaways translate into a +5 in turnover margin.
The Roos have been more porous, though, admittedly, it’s been primarily due to second half breakdowns. They have been very impressive in shutting down Texas Lutheran and East Texas Baptist, holding them to a combined three points before intermission. Maybe there is something in the water.
Perhaps allowing 193 rushing (4.1 avg.) and 292 passing yards is a reflection of the offensive struggles as much as it is the defense.
The Roos’ enemies have scored six TD’s in the second half, four coming on the ground. Teams have run for six of every ten plays against them. They have forced four turnovers.
Players to Watch
Austin College QB Noah Jesko (9-of-16 passing, 144 yards, 0 INT) has been efficient in leading the offense. Sean Sweeney has churned for 160 yards (4.6) and Brock Boyd has another 80 (3.1). Three receivers have three catches apiece, led by P.J. Fuller’s whopping 44.7 per catch average.
Linebacker Stephen Young spearheads the defense, making nine tackles per game.
The cog in the Lions’ offensive wheel is junior QB Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne, Grandview HS). He’s 28-of-48 for 411 yards. Both of his picks have bounced off receiver’s hands. An elusive runner, Golson has darted for only 27 yards. Cade Leuschner (Waco, Tx / Robinson HS) has been the lone threat on the ground (88 yds).
Speedy receivers Jeremy McDonald (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) and Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Seguin HS) have snared 10 and nine respectively. McDonald ranks #32 in the NAIA in catches, good for 19 yards per.
Mentioning the Lions offense without the contributions of junior kicker James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) would be an error. The 5’9, 195-pounder has split the uprights on all six of his tries. The NAIA leader has connected on 3-of-3 extra points to boot.
Those who repel opponents are led by linebackers and hybrid safeties that are known for their speed and tenacity.
Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS) and Mo Mansaray (Dallas, Tx / Conrad HS), from the center secondary, and Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS), are the top three tacklers. Lineman D.J. Johnson (Detroit, Mi / Parkview HS, Springfield, Mo) is the mainstay up front.
The spotlight, however, has deservedly shone on freshman Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS) and Nick Ekanem (Richmond, Tx / B.F. Terry HS), the ball bandits. Taylor is tops in the NAIA with four interceptions, while Ekanem (EE-kon-um), the senior All-American, has two.
The outcome, as it often is in football, will likely be decided by turnovers and who controls the line of scrimmage.
The game will be carried on the internet by SAGU Sports Live. SAGU remains the only school in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics who air their sporting events in genuine high definition.
A crew of about twenty media students comprises the team that uses at least three cameras, three announcers and a portable studio that is mini-ESPN-like.
The pre-game show comes on the air at 6:45pm with host Rob Price, color analyst Tim Roberts and sideline journalist Bianca Alarcon.
Fans can access the game on the school’s website at www.sagu.edu and by clicking the Watch SAGU TV button. There is no charge for this service.
Year Location Result
2011 Sherman SAGU 35-13
2010 Waxahachie AC 28-6
2009 Sherman AC 34-7
2008 Waxahachie SAGU 16-14
2007 Sherman AC 35-21
2006 Waxahachie AC 7-0