Big plays ignite Lions in 43-38 setback
"Oh McDonald" sets receiving yardage record
Ekanem breaks career mark for interceptions
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Jeremy McDonald (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) and Nick Ekanem (Richmond, Tx / B.F. Terry HS) enjoyed record-setting performances in a college football game that held spectators in their seats to the last play at Lumpkins Stadium.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Texas Lutheran University traded big plays for four quarters before the visiting Bulldogs held off four consecutive passes in the end zone to finish with a 43-35 triumph.
For the Lions, now 1-3, it was their fourth straight contest to be decided in the final period, three of them at home in which they had a chance to win at the wire.
A week ago SAGU reached the Austin College seven yard line with nine seconds to go, only to have two passes rushed into incompletions. Saturday night was eerily familiar.
Thanks to a 41-yard pass to McDonald from Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne Univ, Grandview HS), Southwestern was on the TLU 17 with under a minute to play.
Under duress, Golson fired four times into the end zone. Each went begging for a hug.
Only an attempt over the middle to a diving Dylan Moore (Denton, Tx / Guyer HS) came close to being caught. The ball just nicked his fingertips. Golson, who threw for nearly 400 yards, was forced to release the ball well before he was ready.
Texas Lutheran (2-1) jumped to a 13-0 lead with scoring drives of 68, 57 and 53 yards. The remainder of the night witnessed the teams swap plays that left the crowd sounding like spectators at a July 4th fireworks show.
Turnovers and penalties, the bugaboos that thwarted Team Purp in the first three games, all but disappeared. The two teams combined for just two turnovers and only a small handful of deeds drew yellow hankies.
The lone Bulldogs giveaway came early in the final stanza. It was memorable.
Leading 33-21 and with a chance to bury SAGU, QB Brent Peavy went gunning for six against Ekanem (EE-kon-um). On first and ten from the Southwestern 15 he called for Collin Bode (BO-dee), a 6’2 sophomore, on an out route. Someone else answered the phone.
Ekanem, the former All-America cornerback closed quickly, turned and snatched the ball for his fourth pick of the year. The senior tied teammate Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS) for #2 in the nation in interceptions.
It was also his 14th career pick, placing him atop the leader board. Tim Puckett (2004-07) previously held the record with 13.
Two plays later the Lions made a game of it. After a quick five-yard toss to McDonald, Golson sent him on a fly pattern down the left sideline.
The fleet-footed sophomore reeled in the pass though blanketed by Nathan Williams. While battling to get free, Williams knocked the ball out of his McDonald’s clutches. The ball came to rest on the twenty as the combatants struggled to get to it.
Quick as a gunslinger’s draw, Austin Martinez (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS) darted alongside to retrieve the ball, then dashed the final 20-yards for his second touchdown of the game. It was 33-28 with 13:05 remaining.
Two costly errors in the middle of the quarter reestablished the 'Dogs lead and provided what would be the winning margin.
TLU drove into scoring range when the Lions defense stiffened. All-American kicker (NCAA D3) Allan Cain trotted on the field for a 4th-and-seven field goal try from 35 yards. He narrowly missed, wide right.
An offside penalty against SAGU, however, gave him another shot, from 30-yards. The reprieve was cashed in for a 36-28 margin with 7:05 on the clock.
On their ensuing possession, Golson’s 3rd-and-six pass for Nic Morphew (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS) was swiped by Drake Dowling at the Lions 36.
It took Peavy one play to redeem the gift into a score, hitting Lewis Williams II for a catch-and-run touchdown at the 5:37 mark.
SAGU, however, was far from finished. Exciting as five rattlers in a canoe, Golson led them on a 95-yard spree.
Eschewing the run, he hit Morphew for 32 to jumpstart the trip. After jetting for 15 on a fourth and one, Golson bet the farm on deep heave to McDonald. The angular wideout outwrestled Dowling for the ball, landing on the one yard line. E-i-e-i-oh yeah!
Sophomore halfback Cade Leuschner (Waco, Tx / Robinson HS) powered into the end zone on the next play, pulling the Lions to within 43-35 at 3:28.
SAGU needed a quick stop to get the ball back. After allowing a first down, the defense bowed-up to force a punt. Tackles by D.J. Johnson (Springfield, Mo / Parkview HS), Mo Mansaray (Dallas, Tx / Conrad HS) and Dalton Snyder (Ennis, Tx / Ennis HS) on third and two did the deed.
The Final Drive
Needing a TD and a two-point conversion to force overtime, the Purple Pride wasted little time.
Golson scrambled for six before dialing up something fast. He uncorked a tight spiral high into the Texas night. The McDonald’s drive-through was open late!
He may've scored after making the catch hadn’t Darnell Bohannon-Bey made the stop at the Bulldogs’ 17.
With just under a minute left and the game on the line, the Lions went vertical.
Facing a blitz, Golson was forced to throw earlier than desired, and missed McDonald in the right corner of the end zone.
On the next play, TLU’s pressure coaxed a quick release again. Moore beat his man inside, but the pass was already thrown, missing the sure-handed sophomore by a whisker.
Third down was a throw away to the right as Texas Lutheran brought the house.
His final attempt, with the home crowd standing in anticipation, Golson again was forced out of the pocket, scrambling left, and throwing past covered receivers in the corner.
Recap of the first three quarters
The Lions started warming up at the end of the first quarter. Golson connected with McDonald, in stride, on a sideline route for a 57-yard scoring strike.
A six-play, 60-yard drive, saw the final 38 yards gained on the ground. Golson zipped for 25 to set-up the first of two Leuschner scoring plunges, drawing the Lions to within 20-14 in the second quarter.
Texas Lutheran, from Seguin, Tx, drove to the SAGU six, courtesy of a 42-yard Peavy to Dustin Hannon pass. On third and goal, Johnson and Zach Jackson (Wray, Co / Wray HS) teamed up to sack Peavy for a 14-yard loss.
That raised Cain from the bench for a 48-yard field goal. He split the uprights for five field goals during the game.
Southwestern went on the attack for the final 1:28 of the half. Golson hit McDonald for 14 and Morphew for 17, then scampered for 16 to the Hounds 40.
The junior finished the drive in style by locating Martinez roaming free in the secondary near the right sideline for a touchdown with only four ticks on the Lumpkins clock. TLU held a 23-21 lead at intermission.
Using a running game that amassed 306 yards, the Bulldogs reestablished their lead in the third period. Dominique Hardaway ran left through a trio of arm tackles for a 23-yard touchdown. Cain then capped a 64-yard march with a 49-yard kick as the lead swelled to 33-21.
That set the stage for the fourth quarter pyrotechnics.
Statistical Summary, McDonald's record
McDonald had a career effort. The sophomore caught nine passes for a school record 231 yards. It broke the mark of 199 set by David Howard in 2009 against University of the Incarnate Word in a 37-34 setback.
Golson, who ran for 79 yards, was 18-of-37 for 377 yards and three TD’s. The Lions passing yardage mark belongs to Jeremy Fowler. He came off the bench to throw for 444 in a double-overtime, 50-48 loss to Oklahoma Panhandle State in 2009.
TLU had a slight edge in total offense, 483 to 475 yards.
Snyder, a freshman linebacker, led the defensive charge with 11 tackles, nine of them unassisted.
Ekanem and Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS) each had six stops, while safety Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS) added five. The defense made 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses totaling 62 yards.
Frank Agbemaple (Euless, Tx / Trinity HS) stepped in at cornerback when Taylor was dinged up on the game’s second play.
SAGU is off next Saturday. They return to the field on Saturday, October 6, when they travel to play at Bacone College. Kickoff in Muskogee, Oklahoma is set for 2:00pm (CST).
The Warriors are 2-3 after routing Haskell University (Ks), 77-13.
Photo galleries of SAGU Athletics
Fans can view and/or purchase hundreds of photos from Saturday’s game. Shot by Steve Patterson, of Red Oak’s Moving Pictures, a full array of shots are on-line now at: www.movingpictures.photoreflect.com
Watch for details of other galleries when they are uploaded.
Video highlights now available on Facebook
A new fan page on Facebook is SAGU Sports Live. The crew that produces the high definition livestream of home sporting events, has created this site for posting video highlights of games.
It will so feature the Player Spotlight interviews that are aired at halftime during broadcasts. Visit the page and click on Like to receive regular updates.