Lions defense stuffs Haskell, 19-8
Golson throws TD's to Griffin, Shelly; runs for 122
SAGU plays at Texas Lutheran on Saturday, 6pm
LAWRENCE, Kansas -- Powered by a defense that had five takeaways, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University defeated Haskell University, 19-8, on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon.
The Lions, now 1-2, forced the hosts to avert their power running game and go to the air in the second half. Haskell managed to complete 19 of 41 passes but were turned away each of the few times they posed a threat to score.
SAGU built a 16-8 halftime edge, then handed the lead to a defense that played extremely well. Haskell never entered the 'red zone' after intermission.
The Lions allowed 130 yards in the first half, and then pitched a shutout in the second. Haskell finished with 238 yards, but had to ditch their ground attack.
They were limited to 2.2 yards per attempt, gaining just 70 yards on 32 carries.
Trailing 16-0 midway in the second quarter, the Tribe assembled their only sustained drive of the day. They scored on a 21-yard Maverick Lang pass to running back Quinton Newsome, who had lined up in the slot.
SAGU’s secondary allowed Lang to complete only two passes that gained more than twenty yards. Twelve of their receptions went for short gains of nine yards or less.
Ranked #8 in the nation last year when they intercepted 21 passes (only four teams had more picks), the Lions swiped three more.
Sophomore Mo Mansaray (Dallas, Tx / Conrad HS), who started at cornerback, picked off a deep throw before intermission. He would’ve had another theft but let it slip through his grasp.
The other picks came after recess, both by linebackers; senior Kendal Evers (Danbury, Tx / Danbury HS) and sophomore Daniel Russo (Hemet, Cal / Hamilton HS, University of La Verne).
Defensive Coordinator John Allen went with a different alignment in the game, adding Zach Jackson (Wray, Co / Wray HS) to the line.
The Indians found the Lions' front four and the linebacking corps as tough as a thirty-cent steak.
Especially effective was the play of defensive end senior Ike Caston (Dallas, Tx / A+ Academy). Haskell usually ran the ball away from his side.
Unfortunately for them, senior D.J. Johnson (Detroit, Mich / Springfield Parkview HS) was a stalwart at defensive tackle. ‘Cast Iron’ and Johnson helped stymie the Indians.
Allen praised the play of the entire cast of ‘Backers, mentioning eight of them by name.
Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS) returned to the gridiron after missing most of the first two games. The sophomore was third in the nation in interceptions a year ago. His lockdown coverage prompted Haskell to throw elsewhere.
Freshman cornerback Kyle Flud (Grand Prairie, Tx / South GP HS) (pronounced like 'flood') was tested throughout. He made several key plays in coverage, once drawing an offensive pass interference penalty against Haskell. Another freshman, Brodrick Harrel (Livingston, Tx / Livingston HS), did similarly.
Offensively, the Lions offense had their share of moments. They rushed for 225 yards and picked up 166 through the air, including both of their TD’s.
'Trigger Man' Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS. Howard Payne Univ) connected on 13 of 23 tosses and had a lone interception. It came on a tipped pass.
Toting the pigskin 15 times, the senior piled up 122 yards. All but three of his runs gained five yards or more.
Sophomore Troy Griffin (Houston, Tx / Westbury HS, Texas A&M Commerce) had a productive day, turning 17 carries into 75 yards.
Overall the offense was hampered by four turnovers; three of them fumbles.
Twice they coughed up the ball within the shadow of the goalpost; one inside the Haskell five yard line, the latter on first down at the Indians nine yard line.
They controlled the time of possession and did plenty of positive things. They lacked only a knockout punch on the scoreboard.
The outcome, however, was never in jeopardy, thanks to the defense.
SAGU would’ve broken the game open had it not been for three dropped passes, two of them sure touchdowns in the end zone.
In the third period junior Jeremy McDonald (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) returned a punt 90 yards for a TD, only to have a questionable penalty negate the scintillating, coast-to-coast scoring play. A blocking violation was cited against SAGU near midfield.
Venique Benton (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) led the receivers with four grabs while McDonald had three.
A 21-yard pitch and catch to McDonald moved the Lions to the Haskell 19 in the third quarter. The drive stalled and James Gish (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS) split the uprights from 32- yards. He narrowly missed two other field goal tries.
The Lions two touchdowns were turned in by a pair of sophomores.
After a fumble short-circuited a 13-play, 79-yard drive in the first period, the Jungle Kings struck pay dirt.
A four-play, 57-yard drive ended when Golson feathered a sweet pass to 6’5 tight end Caleb Shelly (Cold Spring, Tx / Cold Spring HS). He found a crease in the coverage over the middle, then reached up to snare an 11-yard scoring throw.
Later in the second period Golson delivered another smile-maker.
Facing a Haskell blitz, he stood stall in the face of two blitzing defenders and hit Griffin with a screen pass. He followed blockers and then burst down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown and the upperhand at 16-0. It was a three-play, 68-yard drive.
The Lions recorded a safety in the first quarter when an errant snap from Haskell’s center sailed over the punter’s head for a 2-0 lead.
SAGU returns to action next Saturday, September 28, when they travel to face Texas Lutheran University (2-0).
The NCAA Division III Bulldogs (2-0) play in Seguin (228 miles south of Waxahachie), which is just north of San Antonio.
The contest will take place in the 9,000 seat Matador Stadium.
A 6:00pm (CST) kickoff will also be marked by the first audio broadcast by the SAGU Sports Network.
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