Lions roar to 42-35 Homecoming victory
SAGU builds three 14-point leads, top OPSU Aggies
Defense applies the brakes, Golson, Griffin provide acceleration
Box Score link below
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Led by an opportunistic offense and a bend-but-don’t-break defense, Southwestern Assemblies of God University posted a solid 42-35 victory over Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
The triumph on Homecoming Day saw the Lions build three 14-point leads in a game they never trailed. A festive crowd enjoyed the team's best performance of the season. Weather forecasts were filled with threatening conditions. They never materialized.
Like a firecracker with a lit fuse, they were bound to explode. The struggling offense simply had a longer fuse than observers had noticed.
SAGU, now 3-4 on the season, defeated the NCAA Division II Aggies for a second straight season. Like last year’s 28-27 overtime win in Goodwell, Ok., they earned it.
Following an 0-2 start to the season, SAGU has won of their last five games.
The Purple Pride are 2-1 on the road this fall. After away games at Wayland Baptist University and Texas College over the next two weeks, the Lions close at home against No. 25 ranked Bacone College (6-2).
Credit a team that hadn’t lost their focus and a coaching staff for their attention to detail.
The Lions deserved high marks in each of the areas that needed attention.
Their Report Card was one that students would be proud to show their parents.
Slow Starting Offense: A+
Play Calling: A
Taking Care of the Football: B+
Forcing Turnovers: A
Reducing Opponents’ Big Plays: B+
Limiting Penalties: A+
Smiles on Homecoming: A+
And the obligatory...
Plays Well with Others: A+
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The Lions started with a bang and didn’t stop until the final horn!
Senior quarterback Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS, Howard Payne Univ), who won the 2012 game with a scoring run, was the ringleader again on Saturday.
He rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another and junior running back Troy Griffin (Houston, Tx / Texas A&M Commerce) blasted across the goal line twice from two yards out.
Linebacker Jeremiah Maat (Slidell, La / Slidell HS) charged 63 yards with a fumble as an active defense made plays all afternoon.
They did allow a lot of yards, but not big plays. The Aggies, who trailed all day, went no huddle in their attack, racking up 490 yards on 84 plays. Their longest gainer was a blown coverage on a 31-yard pass (late in the fourth quarter). In short, SAGU made OPSU work for what they got by forcing long drives
SAGU forced 17 incomplete passes, turned two turnovers into 14 points and stopped the Aggies on downs five times.
Throughout the game it was the Purple Pride who were the aggressors. In the end, OPSU couldn’t keep up or catch up.
Their final four plays, all from their own 37, were incomplete passes by QB Caleb Holbrook. The last gasp was a ‘Hail Mary’ that was batted away near the 15 yard line by sophomore cornerback Shakeem Taylor (Mesquite, Tx / Poteet HS).
Maat (MAHT) scooped up a fumbled pitch by Holbrook; it was tipped towards him by defensive end Ike Caston (Dallas, Tx / A+ Academy HS), and bolted down the left sideline for a 28-14 lead.
The Aggies blocked a Lions punt that set up a four-yard scoring drive just before intermission, and then drove 65 yards to level the score at 28 in third quarter. The TD came when their receivers crossed paths and the secondary got mixed up in their coverage. It allowed a 7-yard pass in the end zone.
Knotted at 28, Golson was at his best.
He engineered an 11-play, 73 yard drive that he finished by dashing up the middle the final 22 yards. Tyler Jenkins (Weatherford, Tx / Weatherford HS) threw a block downfield then helped push Golson across the goal. ))) th
The team converted on three third downs; a short yardage plunge by James Hopkins (Ferris, Tx / Ferris HS, NW Okla State) on third and one, a 17-yard Golson scamper off tackle on another third and one, then a nine yard strike to tight end Caleb Shelly (Cold Spring, Tx / Cold Spring HS) on third and seven at the OPSU 25.
Panhandle State marched to the Lions 14 on their next possession. The drive stalled when the secondary denied short passes on third and fourth downs.
Going for the jugular, Golson answered with an 86-yard march that took 10 plays. He capped it by zipping a perfect crossing pass to Andrez Brewster (El Paso, Tx / Texas A&M Commerce).
He turned the corner and then barreled the final four yards across the goal.
Eddie Morgan, Jr. (Venus, Tx / Venus HS) then recovered an onside kick that surprised most everyone. A sack foiled the drive, but the message was given: we’re going for it!
The defense followed with a text-book display of reluctance. They resisted the will of their guests.
OPSU labored to move 51 yards in 13 plays. They reached the Lions 29 but were turned away again on downs.
The Aggies eventually scored – on a 14-yard pass with 2:18 remaining on the clock. Their attempt to recover an onside kick was foiled by SAGU's Jordan Chavez (Pueblo, Colo / Pueblo HS), who leapt to snare a bouncing kick.
Golson and Griffin milked the clock before handing the ball back at the Aggies 37 with 0:22 showing on the clock. Tight coverage prevented three passes, setting up Holbrook’s final heave.
The deep throw intended for Chance Barlow was broken when Taylor soared to bat the ball out of harm's way.
SAGU finished with 373 yards, of which 235 came on the ground. Griffin and Golson gained 92 apiece. Hopkins added 29 more.
The Lions didn’t pass much, but made them count. Brewster and Shelly each snared three receptions, but it was the first catch of the game that drew the most attention.
Their initial possession was a three-and-out for the Aggies. About to punt by Antonio Mendoza, a tipped snap on a fake punt allowed Dalton Snyder (Ennis, Tx / Ennis HS) and Brodrick Harrel (Livingston, Tx / Livingston HS ) to swoop in and bring the punter down at the OPSU 33.
The sudden change in field position provoked Offensive Coordinator Frank Tristan to call for a bit of trickeration.
From the pistol, Golson pitched to Venique Benton (Waxahachie, Tx / Waxahachie HS), who went in motion to his right. He swept outside of the right tackle, stopped, pivoted and threw the ball back to his left to Golson.
He made the grab on the run and dashed 31 yards. Griffin muscled his way to pay dirt on the next play. It was 7-0 and the Harvesters weren’t even finished with the National Anthem.
Panhandle State coughed up the ball on their very next play, a fumbled exchange. It was pounced on by and ‘made the day’ for Ethan Eastwood (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS).
It took Griffin just two plays and 18 yards to strike up Tyrone Block and SAGU the band.
Two TD’s in 27 seconds. It was 14-0 and the game was less than three minutes old.
The defense made plenty of plays, Golson and Griffin kept moving the chains, the Lions were called for just two penalties (OPSU had only three), and Homecoming ended with glad-handing for all in purple and gold.
Three games remain on the schedule, the next two on the road. There is much to play for. The Lions can finish the season with SAGU’s best record ever.
Next Saturday the team plays at Wayland Baptist University. The kickoff is set for 2:00pm.
NEXT: Head Coach Jesse Godding’s post-game review