NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – Senior Duane Brooks caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Moses to give SFA a four-point lead with 2:45 remaining Saturday night to propel Stephen F. Austin to a 31-27 victory over Nicholls. The victory moves SFA to 7-2 on the season, and 4-1 in Southland Conference play, and more importantly keeps SFA in a four-way tie for the SLC lead.
"We played like champions tonight," said SFA head coach J.C. Harper. "Champions find a way to win, even when things are not going you're way and that is exactly what we did. I'm very proud of this team, especially the defense."
The Lumberjacks had only two leads in the game, and the second came in the final 2:45 of the contest, but it was enough to give SFA its seventh win in its last eight games. The game, which started off as a back-n-forth affair, ended as a defensive struggle. Nicholls cracked the scoreboard first with a LaQuinton Caston one-yard touchdown run with 11:04 in the first half. SFA answered back with a 12-play, 85-yard drive that ended in an 18-yard TD pass from Moses to senior Aaron Rhea.
The two teams combined to score 42 points in the first 16:17 of the contest before the game turned into a defensive struggle. The Colonels closed out the half with a 12-play, 72-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard scoring run from Anton Robinson to take a 27-21 lead into the locker room.
The Colonels racked up 314 of their 434 total yards of offense in the opening half, including 253 yards on the ground. The Lumberjacks also were able to move the ball in the opening half recording 209 yards of offense.
The Lumberjack defense took control of the game in the second half. SFA held Nicholls to 120 total yards, and 101 rushing yards in the final 30 minutes. While the SFA defense was able to shut down Nicholls, the Lumberjack offense began to march. The `Jacks cut the Nicholls' lead in half when freshman Evan Engwall drilled a 27-yard field goal with 8:48 remaining in the fourth. SFA got the ball back with 4:53 remaining on the clock, and Moses and company drove the ball down the field on a 7-play, 61-yard drive for the winning score.
The Lumberjacks finished the game with 486 yards of total offense. SFA turned the ball over four times, including three in the second half but did not allow the Colonels to score any points off the miscues. Moses completed 36-of-47 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Brooks finished the game with eight catches for 59 yards. Rhea added eight receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown, while classmate Contrevious Parks added six catches for 111 yards and a score. SFA finished the night with 120 yards on the ground, led by senior Vincent Pervis who carried the ball 15 times for 72 yards.
The victory, which caps SFA's first undefeated home season since the 1999 SLC Co-Championship team, was highlighted by Brooks' eight catches. The Irving, Texas, native tied an SFA single-season record with 68 receptions, a record he originally set last season.
The Lumberjacks return to action Saturday, Nov. 14, when they travel to Hammond, La., to take on Southeastern Louisiana. The game against the SLC co-leaders is slated to begin at 2 p.m. from Strawberry Stadium.