Langston's #3 defense curbs Lions
Nine trips into LU territory nets one TD
Home finale on Saturday vs. Texas College
LANGSTON, Oklahoma -- The Lions' bid for their first .500 season was cut short against a perennial power, Langston University. In a classic defensive battle, the host LU Lions won their homecoming game with a 21-7 verdict.
The hosts vaulted to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and made it stand against a SAGU offense that crossed into their territory nine times. All but once they were repelled by a defense that ranks #3 in the NAIA in scoring and is #4 in yards allowed.
There were goal-line stands and exciting plays on offense between two evenly-matched teams. Langston had a 294 to 278 edge in total offense, while SAGU owned a 17-13 margin in first downs.
There were five turnovers, three of them by Langston.
The case for taking advantage of opportunities came knocking on the door early for the Purple Pride.
On Langston’s first offensive play, linebacker Kendall Evers (Danbury, Tx / Danbury HS) forced and recovered a Lions fumble, setting up SAGU on the LU 25 yard line.
After a false start penalty, Southwestern picked up 15 on a reception by Jeremy McDonald (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian). The march stalled after seven plays and 12 yards.
The visitors had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS). The snap went far to the right, disrupting his approach. The kick sailed wide right as well.
Momentum swung dramatically. The Lions defense returned to the field. On the ensuing play, Langston’s Kenrick Roberson took a hand-off and broke free for an 80-yard scoring dash.
McDonald, one of the NAIA’s best returners, returned the kickoff 47 yards, and the offense had a short field again. A third and seven pass at the Langston 42 was dropped over the middle, forcing a punt.
Three plays after a very short punt, Langston fumbled, but recovered it on the SAGU 40. On following play, Roberson took a pitch and zoomed untouched for a 14-0 lead with 6:19 left in the first period.
The offense continued their struggles against the Langston defense. The next drive was quickly curbed with two more false start citations. Langston rushed through to block a punt out of bounds at the 15.
The orange-clad Lions cashed in, though they had to convert a 4th-and-one at the six. QB Bendan Crawford scored from one yard out for a lead that Langston would have to defend the rest of the way.
“Their defense was good, as always,” said junior QB Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne Univ., Grandview HS). “Their pass rush was the best thing about them. They were getting pressure all night and disrupting a lot of things we wanted to do.”
Two first down runs by Golson and three pass completions, one to Austin Martinez (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS) and two to Dylan Moore (Denton, Tx / Guyer HS) moved the ball to the Langston 24.
Following a 10-yard penalty on the offense, Golson was hit on a blitz. His underthrown pass was intercepted for a touchback by Tarey Sparks.
Southwestern would cross midfield five more times. After starting at the LU 44, a fourth false start on the first play led to a fourth and one rushing play that was stopped at the Lions 35.
They got back to the 35 again where they were halted by an interception.
SAGU plays defense too
Not to be outdone, the Lions defense showed their teeth. Time and again the unit kept the offense in the game by shutting down the Langston attack. The two most memorable occasions came in the second half.
A nine-play, 46-yard advance had Langston making 'reservations for six.'
After converting a fourth and one inside the 10-yard line, Langston was about to order off the menu from the one, when D.J. Johnson (Detroit, Mi / Springfield, Mo Parkview HS) and Zach Jackson (Wray, Co / Wray HS) stuffed an inside running play.
On second and goal, a Crawford keeper wasn’t kept.
Instead, sophomore linebacker Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS), playing the role of finder, kept the fumbled keeper as a sweeper minds a minefield.
Three plays later the Lions punted from their end zone. After a shank and having a punt blocked, Stephen Stewart (Magnolia, Tx / West HS) unloaded a sputnik that orbited, collected moon rocks, bounced, rolled and crawled out at the Langston 21.
The seventy yarder satiated the sullen sophomore.
Midway through the fourth quarter SAGU had another takeaway. Senior cornerback Nick Ekanem (Richmond, Tx / Arkansas State Univ., B. F. Terry HS) swiped a third-and-seven pass at the Southwestern 25.
It was his seventh of the season, setting a new school record for picks in a season. It was also the 17th of his career, adding to his own record.
Runs of 10 and 12 yards by Golson sandwiched a 16-yard strike to Martinez as the Lions roared to the Langston 32. The twelfth play capped the drive with a bang!
McDonald streamed the sideline in front of the Langston bench and gathered in a perfectly timed Golson pass, sprinting into the end zone, finally hitting pay dirt.
“They were in press coverage,” explained Golson. “Right as he passed the corner (back) I was able to hit him (in stride) and he outran the defenders.”
Scoring against Langston on this day seemed as hard as stacking BB’s.
Their other two trips into enemy territory ended without points:
After moving to the Langston 47, a third down reverse to speedster Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Seguin HS) turned into a five-yard loss, prompting a punt. The team’s final possession reached the Langston 33 before time expired.
It was the handful of unfinished drives that prevented SAGU from finally beating their nemesis. Five straight seasons of Southwestern travelling to Langston and returning without a win was tough for seniors who were bent on an overdue victory.
It was, however, the lowest point total by the 'Ok Lions' in that stretch.
Golson entered the game ranked #14 in the nation in total offense, averaging 268 yards per game. He finished with 231-yards; 162 of it through the air, 69 on the ground.
Redshirt freshman running back Landry Martinez (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne Univ., Grandview HS) had 50 yards on 15 carries.
Austin Martinez and McDonald snared 5 and 4 passes for 49 and 53 yards respectively. Until the strike to McDonald for a TD, the longest gainer was a 24-yard swing pass to Sean Haynes (Katy, Tx / Univ. of Houston, Taylor HS).
Defensively, linebackers led the way. The team allowed Langston to convert only 2-of-13 third downs.
Davis had a dozen tackles to anchor the squad. Evers and Jeremiah Maat (Slidell, La / Slidell HS) each registered eight, while Dalton Snyder (Ennis, Tx / Ennis HS) and defensive end Jackson both were credited with seven stops.
Defensive backs Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS) and Brad Heathcock (Frisco, Tx / Wakeland HS) both made six, while Richard Adewola (Richmond, Tx / B.F. Terry HS) and Mo Mansaray (Dallas, Tx / Conrad HS) had five apiece.
Season Home Finale: Saturday vs. Texas College
The Lions' season concludes with a clash next Saturday (Nov. 10), at home, against Texas College (2-8). The game at Lumpkins Stadium is set for a 2:00pm (CST) kickoff.
A win will give SAGU a second straight 4-6 season as the young program continues to make progress. The teams have split the last four meetings (results listed below), three of them being played in Tyler.
The Steers, coached by former Oklahoma and Green Bay (NFL) linebacker George Cumby, have defeated Wayland Baptist University, 26-0, and Concordia University (Tx), 31-20.
SAGU will recognize four senior players during the game, their final opportunity to suit up for the purple and gold.
SAGU Sports Live will broadcast the game in high definition, beginning with a pre-game show at 1:45pm.
SAGU vs Texas College: Last 4 Meetings
2011 - SAGU 31-20 at Tyler
2010 - Texas College 27-13 at Waxahachie
2009 - SAGU 28-20 at Tyler
2008 - Did Not Play
2007 - Texas College 28-23 at Tyler