Missed opportunities come back to haunt SFA late

SFA Quarterback Brady Attaway
SFA Quarterback Brady Attaway
Texas State Head Coach Dennis Franchione
Texas State Head Coach Dennis Franchione

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS (NEWS RELEASE) - The No. 22-ranked Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team could not overcome seven dropped passes, including two that would have been for touchdowns, Saturday night falling to Texas State, 35-26. The loss, which is the team's third straight, and fifth consecutive to Texas State, drops SFA to 1-3 (.250) on the season.

The Lumberjacks led twice in the first half, despite an offense that struggled to find its rhythm in the early going. But after taking a 10-7 early in the second quarter, the Lumberjacks surrendered 21 unanswered points to fall behind 28-10 with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.

The Lumberjacks recorded 211 yards of total offense in the first half, and finished the game with 419, but struggled to make big plays when it needed to. On seven different occasions quarterback Brady Attaway found open targets only to see his normally sure-handed receivers drop passes. Attaway finished the game 32-of-64 for 353 yards, but no touchdowns.

The Lumberjack special teams tried to pump life back into its offense. Following a Texas State score to take a 28-10 lead, junior Gralyn Crawford responded by returning the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the fourth kickoff returned for a touchdown in Crawford's career, and equals the longest return in school history. Crawford now joins Richard Daniels as the only players in program history to return a kick 100 yards for a score.

The Lumberjacks followed that up with a field goal nearly 15 minutes later to pull within eight, 28-20, but time was beginning run out on SFA. The 'Jacks kicked the ball off with 6:29 remaining and needed a big stop from its defense. The stop would come in the form of Tyler junior Josh Aubrey. Texas State's quarterback Shaun Rutherford's pass sailed wide of its intended target and was picked off by Aubrey, who weaved his way through traffic for a 49-yard return for the score. After a failed two-point conversion, the 'Jacks went back on defense trailing by two, 28-26, with more than four minutes on the clock.

SFA needing one more stop was unable to get it as Rutherford moved the Bobcats 72 yards on five plays for the game-winning score. The final score was set up by a 37-yard run by Marcus Curry.

Attaway connected with six different receivers on the evening including freshman Marquis Mosley who recorded a career-high nine receptions for 99 yards. Crawford also hauled in eight passes for 87 yards.

The Lumberjack defensive effort was led by junior linebacker Ryan Epperson who posted a career-high 17 tackles. Sophomore Caleb Nelson added 15, while senior Devin Ducote recorded 14 tackles.

The Lumberjacks return to action Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 when they travel to Conway, Ark., to open Southland Conference play against Central Arkansas. The game against the Bears is slated to begin at 6 p.m.