Big plays spark football Lions in scrimmage
Rice, McKinley lead the offense
MIDLOTHIAN, Texas -- Behind a fiery, big play offense, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University Lions rolled to a number of scores against East Texas Baptist University in a football scrimmage on Friday night.
In their final pre-season tune-up before opening at Bethany College (Kansas) on September 3, SAGU drove for touchdowns in most of their possessions against the visiting Tigers. The two-quarter exhibition was an impressive answer to a less than stellar outcome they had a year ago versus ETBU in Marshall, Texas.
ETBU competes in the same league, the American Southwest Conference, in which Mary Hardin-Baylor has won the past six years. The 16-team ASC is in the NCAA’s Division III.
“We were a tad more explosive on offense than we have been,” head coach Jesse Godding said in an understatement. In describing the performance offense that saw three quarterbacks engineer scoring drives, what the veteran coach said was revealing.
“Our offense was ripping off chunks of yardage,” Godding pointed out. “The number of runs of 12-yards or longer along with passing pick-ups of 16+ yards was especially pleasing. Last year we struggled in making big plays.” The Lions longest pass play in 2010 was just 39 yards and their best run was 52. It was part of the reason the club went 2-8.
Senior QB Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Texas State) started things with the first of three marches to paydirt. He capped a 12-play drive that resulted in an eight yard strike to Trevor McKinley (Arlington, Tx / Juan Seguin HS). After a sack by senior linebacker Patrick Smith (Bluffton, SC / Hilton Head Christian) prompted a punt, the Lions paraded quickly downfield.
Waxahachie High School graduate Max Whitfield caught two passes, including a 25 yarder, and freshman runningback DeVon Thomas (Franklin, La / Franklin HS) scored on a five-yard run off right tackle.
Adam O’Banion (Peoria Az / Kellis HS), a freshman safety, picked off a Tigers pass, one of three turnovers forced by SAGU.
On the next play, redshirt freshman QB Josh Harris (Victorville, Ca / Victor Valley Christian) connected with McKinley on a bubble screen. Sixty-five yards later he sailed into the end zone. Josh Smith (Kingwood, Tx / Kingwood HS) and fullback Ben Atkinson (Glenpool, Ok / Glenpool HS) threw blocks that freed the zephyr.
Harris returned to lead the troops into the end zone again. Thomas busted 14-yards, Smith gained 16 on a reception over the middle and senior wideout David Howard (Dayton, Tx / Dayton HS) gathered in a 36-yard catch-and-run to the five. From there Harris scored on an option run.
Cade Leuschner (Waco, Tx / Robinson HS), who has successfully overcome knee surgeries, was inspiring. Running with power and heart, he took a pitch and jetted to glory from inside the ten yard line.
Another scoring assault was directed by cat-quick, signal-caller Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Howard Payne Univ). He darted 33-yards up the middle before a fingertip sideline grab by Howard propelled the Jungle Cats into the red zone. The ever-elusive Golson crowned the drive by rolling out and zipping a 7-yard TD pass to Jeremy McDonald (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian).
Godding added that his quarterbacks all “have strengths that help this team. Rice has great leadership, improved accuracy and command of the spread offense. Golson has athletic gifts that are difficult not to notice. And Harris has shown great resolve. He has been hurt, and has comeback to play the best we’ve seen of him tonight.”
The Lions defense was sound. Senior inside LB Quentin "Tank" Holloman (Garland, Tx / Sachse HS) and sophomore cornerback Marcus Lester (Austin, Tx / Reagan HS) made key stops.
The team begins the season this Saturday night in central Kansas with a 6pm tilt against Bethany College, who went 4-6 last season. With eight returning starters on both offense and defense, the Swedes will be a handful. Bethany is located about 65 miles north of Wichita, a 430 mile trek north of Waxahachie.