NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The SFA Lumberjacks were all smiles Saturday night as early season problems seemed to be a thing of the past.
In their two previous games, SFA had been outscored 97-13. Saturday’s conference tilt with Abilene Christian was a lot closer tan their first two games as the Jacks were able to hold on and win a close 24-21 game that came down to the last drive.
“Last week we had a bunch of guys trying to do everyone’s job," Interim Head Coach Jeff Byrd said. "When you play good team defense, everyone is in charge of one thing. There were times we had guys jumping out of gaps last week, and we did that less. We tackled better, we obviously worked on tackling this week. It’s a team game, everything we have to go through to grow, it’s all about us, not about you. When we get guys that understand that we play better team offense and team defense, that’s what were trying to work on.”
The night started with the team honoring the late Cally Belcher. Belcher died after suffering a head injury at a spring practice. For the past 5 seasons the team has taken his jersey #16 out of retirement for one game and gives it to a hand picked Lumberjack. Tonight the team gave the honor to wide receiver Cody Williams.
To start the game SFA marched the ball 70 yards on 13 plays to take up 6:01 of clock and scored on a 20-yard field goal from junior place-kicker Storm Ruiz.
Neither team found success on capitalizing for most of the first half after that. ACU was able to take their lone lead of the game on a touchdown run by Billy McCrary with less than 2 minute left in the half.
The lead would not last long. WIth senior quarterback Foster Sawyer benched, due to concussion protocol, Jake Blumerick led the offense down the field and six-play, 59-yard drive to retake the lead at 10-7 with 32 seconds remaining before the break. Greatly aided by a 22-yard connection from Blumrick to sophomore Garden City Community College transfer wide receiver Remi Simmons.
“Those guys out there make it easy," Blumerick said. "It’s great to have those receivers out there where you can just put a ball up and they make plays. I can’t give enough credit to the offensive line to be able to sit there and go through all my reads and get the ball to those playmakers.”
SFA would take the 10-7 lead to the half after ACU would miss their third field goal of the half. In the second half, SFA would score first on a Trenton Gordon touchdown off of a fumble recovery.
The two teams would then alternate scores and with 1:24 left in the game the Wildcats got their final score. Just as the game started with Williams getting recognized for honoring Belcher, the game ended with Williams in a key spot. The Pearland native was able to come up with the recovery on an onside kick. The Jacks offense did the rest as they ran out the clock.
The win is the first of the year for the Jacks and the first career head coaching win for Byrd. It doesn’t get any easier next week. The Jacks will hit the road for their third road tilt of the month next Saturday, Sept. 29 when the team visits the Cowboys of 10th-ranked McNeese. Kickoff from Cowboy Stadium in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is slated for 6 p.m.