FORT WORTH — Though the two institutions combine for over 200 years, Saturday marked the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between Southwestern Assemblies of God and Texas Wesleyan.
The Lions now lead the all-time series 1-0 after soundly defeating the upstart Rams, 42-7.
SAGU moves to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Central States Football League (CSFL) play, while Wesleyan is now 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the CSFL. The Lions are in a four-way tie for first place in the CSFL with Langston, Arizona Christian, and Oklahoma Panhandle State University.
The game was incredibly tight in the first quarter, but SAGU was able to strike first with 2:38 on the clock when CJ Collins scampered in for a 13-yard run. The junior quarterback finished the day 8-of-17 passing for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior running back JP Lowery rushed for 75 yards and one touchdown and senior running back Ricky Bickham toted the ball 10 times for 66 yards to lead the Lions ground attack. Junior wide receiver Jeremy Carr had 130 yards receiving and four touchdowns for the Lions and wide receiver Blayne Rowe had 2 catches for 46 yards.
While SAGU, who is number 14 in the NAIA for scoring offense per game (44 PPG), looked sharp on the offensive side of the ball, head coach Frank Tristan believes that the Lions defense is what gave them a spark Saturday.
The turning point for SAGU was a Maliek Golden’s pick-six with three seconds left in the first half. Golden’s touchdown gave the Lions momentum heading into the second half.
“It’s a completely different ballgame when you go into halftime with the momentum on your side. Maliek gave us that fire that we needed,” said Tristan.
The Lions started with possession in the second half and scored on the opening drive with a JP Lowery one-yard run. The third quarter would prove to be a big offensive quarter for the Lions. SAGU scored 21 of their 42 points in third. Tluang Hmung connected on all six PAT attempts to remain perfect on the season for the Lions.
Defensively, SAGU forced TWU quarterbacks into three interceptions on the day. Senior Matt Williams had one interception and returned it 24 yards, Coby Roach had one interception and the Golden interception that turned into a 57-yard pick-six for the SAGU defense. Coach Tristan said those forced turnovers were a game changer for SAGU. Tristan added, ”The difference in the game today were turnovers. We capitalized on turnovers and they simply did not.”
SAGU will have to turn their attention quickly to a red-hot Arizona Christian team who travels to Waxahachie to take on the Lions on Saturday, Sept. 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium.
According to Tristan, the ACU game will be a true test, “Next week we are going to have to put together a complete game against Arizona Christian. They are a team that has never lost in conference play.”