Home Debut to be played in Midlothian

Lions seek to bounce back from tough setback

WAXAHACHIE, Texas — There is promising news in the air for the Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team. The Weather Channel mentions no rain in its weekend forecast!

The past two years the Lions have played Howard Payne University during huge rainstorms, each time suffering a setback. They fell in 2009 in Waxahachie, 23-17, when SAGU dropped the winning touchdown pass in the rain with three minutes remaining.

Lightning interrupted the game for nearly three hours last fall. Leading 7-0 when officials sent teams and fans for cover in the second quarter, the Lions' mojo was doused in a 32-7 defeat.

When they meet again at 6:00pm Saturday night, 93 degrees and clear skies should prohibit weather being a factor this time.

Both teams opened the season with losses; SAGU came up short in Kansas to Bethany College , 29-21. Tied at the half, 7-7, Howard Payne dropped a 24-7 decision to Trinity University (Tx).

Home away from home

Southwestern’s home opener will not be played at Lumpkins Stadium, where construction details have forced them to play elsewhere. The contest will take place instead, in nearby Midlothian . The M.I.S.D. Multi-Purpose Stadium seats 8,000 in a bowl just north of highway 287. Complete with an instant replay video-scoreboard, seatback and bleacher access, and a newly installed artificial surface should make for a pleasant setting for fans.

Broadcast options

The game will be livestreamed in HD by SAGU SPORTS Live , which can be viewed for free at www.sagu.edu by clicking on Watch SAGU TV . Local middle school instructor Clay Scarborough is the play-by-play announcer while SAGU student, Tim Roberts , will serve as color analyst. The pre-game show starts at 5:45pm. The Chicken Express Players Of the Game will be announced afterwards.

Howard Payne, from Brownwood, Texas, will produce a commercial broadcast of the game on KPSM-FM 99.3. Dallas Huston is the host and Zach Tharp provides insights and analysis from a Yellow Jackets perspective. Sports Information Director Abram Choate says that fans can also log-on to http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/hpu.portal# and uniquely follow the game via Livestats on the web.

What to Watch for

Southwestern hurt themselves with some sloppy play in their first-game. Dropped passes, high center snaps and squandered opportunities after driving inside the Swedes 30 yard line three times without scoring. Two field goal attempts by former Waxahachie High School kicker James Gish were blocked and a pass was intercepted.

Starting quarterback Jason Rice (Katy, Tx / Katy Faith West) and his backup, Reid Golson (Grandview, Tx / Grandview HS, Howard Payne), were very effective running the ball in the Lions version of the spread-option. Golson finished with 90 yards on the ground. Halfback Sean Haynes (Katy, Tx / Taylor HS, Univ of Houston) rushed for 44 yards on eleven carries.

Passing was another story, as the two combined to complete 11-of-34 with two interceptions. High winds had an impact on both teams' aerial plans. The lone bright spot was senior wideout David Howard (Dayton, Tx / Dayton HS), who snared seven passes for 98 yards and a 30-yard TD.

Coach Godding's Viewpoints

Head Coach and offensive coordinator Jesse Godding hopes the erratic play of the passing game begins to click this week. SAGU still managed to run 84 plays compared to just 64 for Payne.

About bouncing back, Coach Godding said his team is “…is a young but talented group. They understood how close they were last week. Understanding that those things which cost us an opportunity to win are all fixable physically and mentally has provided motivation to get better at the little things this week.”

“Also,” he continued, “this group of athletes here are, in the early stages, appearing to be very unified and capable of great synergy.”

Locals shining in purple

Malcolm Whitfield , another former player from Waxahachie High School , enjoyed a lot of action at wide receiver. The team failed to connect with him on one deep pass.

Freshman defensive back O’Shae Cofer is expected to earn the start against the Yellow Jackets after intercepting a pass and returning it 26 yards against Bethany. Cofer wore the green and white for Waxahachie last season.

Injury Update

Two injured starters in the secondary could return this week. Former NAIA All-American Nick Ekanem (Richmond, Tx / B.F. Terry HS) and senior safety Joey Vinson (Patterson, La / Patterson HS), both injured by teammates during fall camp scrimmages, are nearing medical clearance by the SAGU Sports Medicine staff.

The Buzz about the Jackets

Howard Payne, who are in the NCAA’s Division III, switched to the triple-option attack on offense this year. Thomas Head is replacing a record-setting passer, Zach Hubbard , who graduated. While Hubbard had an excellent arm, Head is an option threat. At his disposal is Jhonoven Pati , a 6-foot-1, 240-pound battering ram. He is a key figure as the Jackets fullback.

Coach Godding praised the Jackets as “…a well-coached team, year in and year out and this year is no exception. Coach ( Steve ) Fanara and his staff do a tremendous job preparing their team and getting them to execute.”

“They have a new look this year offensively and defensively, running the flex-bone on offense and play a 3-3 on defense,” he said. Godding was quick to point out the strong play of their special teams. “Their kicking game is always solid and this year is no exception with a senior kicker ( Mitchell Bailey ) and two great return men.”



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