The Southwestern Assembly of God University Lions rebounded from their opening game loss in Kansas, with a strong effort against Howard Payne University Saturday at Midlothian Stadium.
This week they will take on Austin College in Sherman Saturday at 1 p.m. at Jerry Apple Stadium. The Kangaroos (0-2), have won the past two games in the series. Last fall they took advantage of turnovers to win 28-6. SAGU held them to 201 yards, but couldn’t overcome their miscues.
SAGU (1-1) has turned the ball over seven times in its first two games, which has kept its offensive playmakers from getting on track. A costly penalty negated a huge play by former Waxahachie High School wide receiver, Malcolm Whitfield. He busted loose on a screen and could’ve gone the distance.
The play of two quarterbacks, senior Jason Rice, and sophomore Reid Golson, has been effective at times, with Rice the starter.
The elusive Golson, however, came off the bench to engineer the game-winning drive to beat Howard Payne, 21-15. The rushing game has seen both quarterbacks move the ball, as well as junior halfback Sean Haynes.
The go-to receiver is senior David Howard, who has snared eight passes and one touchdown in two games. Incorporating some of the other deep threats is the challenge. Stretching the field vertically via the pass will soften defenses for SAGU’s version of the spread-option. Trevor McKinley and Micah Burditt are speed merchants who are due.
Defensively, the Lions are allowing just 254 yards per game, which ranks No. 16 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Defensive coordinator John Allen’s troops have yielded just three touchdowns.
The squad, anchored by defensive tackle Jon Hulett and inside linebackers Donte Embry and Quentin Holloman, is surrendering only 103 yards per game on the ground.
Senior outside linebacker Patrick Smith and freshman Rockie Davis are making headlines with big plays.
“Defensively, you could not ask for a better effort than what our guys have given,” head coach Jesse Godding said this week. “We’ve been disciplined against the option. The guys made plays when they needed to and we had numerous contributors to the success of the defense. One of the key aspects to the success of the defense has been the play of Hulett and Richard Adewola at noseguard. They control the middle of the line.”
This Saturday, however, they will be put to the test by the ’Roos’ powerful option-running game. They averaged 170 yards per game a year ago. Senior quarterback Travis Zambiasi is a dual threat. In a 31-28 loss to Texas Lutheran two weeks ago, he completed 25-of-37 passes for 228 yards and three scores. Greg Millerick is a deep threat at wide receiver while Brogan Funderburk is a solid running back.
Their defense has shown some porous spots, though linebackers Kenneth Eneh and Nathan Packard and defensive back Sean Sweeney have been bright spots for second year head coach Loren Dawson.
This the sixth consecutive season the two teams have met. Austin College won the first two, before SAGU won in 2008, 16-14. The ’Roos have taken the past two games and now lead the series 4-1.