Coming into the Sooner Athletic Conference matchup against the Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Langston University boasted a top five NAIA rushing offense and was averaging 49.5 points a game in their four SAC wins.
Enter the SAGU Lions defense. SAGU held LU to 160 yards below their normal rushing output and 150+ yards under their normal offensive output. Unfortunately for SAGU, Langston owns a Top 10 NAIA defense of their own which squashed SAGU (0-8, 0-6) offense and allowed LU (6-2, 5-1) to prevail 21-14.
Michael Bledsoe led the Lion rushing efforts with 6 carries for 20 yards.
Bryant Dotson had 8 receptions for 84 yards with a long of 19 yards on the evening.
Christian Cross recorded a 90-yard kickoff return and six tackles with one tackle-for-loss.
Keandre Belcher was a defensive force for SAGU disrupting the middle of the LU offense all night. Belcher finished with 7 total tackles including 2.5 tackles for loss.
Landon Jones recorded 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
Jaylan Moss forced a fumble, broke up a pass, recorded a tackle-for-loss, had two total tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.
In what was an absolute delight for fans of defensive football both teams struggled for first downs with LU finishing with 14 to SAGU’s 11. Both teams are ranked in the Top 5 in the NAIA in 3rd down percentage.
As expected in a defensive battle the punts mounted for each team as LU had nine possessions end with a punt and SAGU had eight punts to end possessions. SAGU lined up to punt twice more but fumbled snaps resulted in rushing attempts rather than punts.
Langston returned the opening kickoff to the SAGU 35-yard line and looked poised to take an early lead but had a pass intercepted on the fourth play of the drive.
SAGU attempted a field goal on their first possession following the interception but the attempt was blocked and returned to the SAGU 27-yard line. From there it took Langston three plays to score the game’s first touchdown and take a 7-0 lead.
Two possessions later, in the second quarter, SAGU stepped in front of a pass to the flat and ran it back for an 86 yard TD. The PAT made the score 7-7 at 12:07 in the second quarter.
SAGU made Langston punt on the following possession but fumbled the ball to Langston on its own 5-yard line on the first offensive play. The SAGU defense send the Langston offense back six yards on the next three plays before Langston kicked a field goal for a 10-7 lead.
The lead was short-lived as SAGU returned the kickoff from Langston 90 yards to take a 14-10 lead.
SAGU forced another Langston punt on their possession but the Langston defense forced SAGU to punt. The punt snap was dropped and Langston managed a field goal prior to the half for a 14-13 halftime score.
SAGU and Langston traded punts in the third quarter until on SAGU’s second possession of the third quarter SAGU suffered another dropped punt snap resulting in Langston getting possession on the SAGU 28 yard line.
Two plays later LU scored and the two-point attempt was good giving LU a 21-14 lead and the final margin of victory.
The remainder of LU’s offensive possessions resulted in punts and a turnover. But Langston’s defense proved just as strong as SAGU was held to a missed field goal.
SAGU (0-8, 0-6) will travel to Goodwell, Okla. on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game against Oklahoma Panhandle State University (2-6, 2-4). Panhandle was a 35-14 loser at Wayland Baptist on Saturday.