The start to the 2018 football season was one to quickly learn from and forget for the Southwestern Assemblies of God Lions.
It does not help that America was watching. The game was not only the first of the year for No. 22 SAGU and Evangel University, but it was televised on ESPN3 as the first collegiate game of the season regardless of the level.
The Lions offense never found its footing last Thursday in the 28-9 loss.
One season removed from averaging 413.4 yards per game, the Lions mustered just 126 total yards Thursday. The most telling stat was SAGU's negative-6 rushing yards, though the Lions did find the end zone via the ground game.
Samuel Northey scored the lone touchdown on the evening for the Lions and first-year head coach Ryan Smith.
After the game, Smith admitted his team did not execute well offensively on a night when the defense held Evangel University to 301 total yards (173 rushing, 128 passing).
"We had bright spots but couldn’t put anything together consistently enough to be successful on offense," Smith told the SAGU Athletics communications staff after the game. "Defensively, we played really well but got tired late. Some bright spots were freshman Christian Cross, who had an interception tonight. Proud of our guy’s effort and the way they supported each other. We will grow from this and continue to move forward as a team. This will just be a growing pain that will cause us to mature and we will be better for it.”
The Lions return to the gridiron for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday in Sherman against Austin College.