SFA Puts Win Streak On Line at Central Arkansas

SFA Puts Win Streak On Line at Central Arkansas

Stephen F. Austin heads back on the road for a key Southland Conference game at Central Arkansas Saturday, November 7th, at 2:30 p.m. at Estes Stadium in Conway, Arkansas. The game marks a homecoming of sorts for Lumberjack head coach Clint Conque, who spent 14 seasons as the head coach of the Bears, as the game will air on the American Sports Network.

Saturday's game in Conway, Arkansas, will be televised live on the American Sports Network, marking the Lumberjacks' second appearance on the network this season. David Saltzman and N.D. Kalu will have the call with Chris Mycoskie on the sideline. My KLPN in Tyler will broadcast the game as it will be available over the air on channels 47.1 and 51.2, on Suddenlink channel 133 in Nacogdoches and Suddenlink channels 9 and 109 in Tyler. A full list of ASN affiliates is available at Southland.org/ASN as the game will also be streamed live atSouthland.org/Watch and on the Southland Conference app. Rob Meyers will once again broadcast the game live on radio at Q107.7 FM as fans can listen online at Q1077.com. Live stats will be available through UCASports.com with in-game Twitter updates available@SFA_Football.

Saturday's game at Central Arkansas is one that has been anticipated since December 14, 2013 - the day SFA announced it had hired Clint Conque as it's 19th head football coach. Conque makes his first trip back to the stripes at Central Arkansas after spending 14 seasons as the Bears' head coach, amassing an overall record of 105-59 (.640), earning a distinction as the second-winningest collegiate football coach in the state of Arkansas behind legendary Razorback coach Frank Broyles. Conque guided UCA through its transition from Division II to Division I, making four NCAA postseason appearances and was a three-time Coach of the Year selection.

2015: 5-3 overall, 5-1 Southland Conference. Receiving votes in this week's FCS coaches and media polls
Last Three Games: W vs. Southeastern Louisiana (21-16), W at Lamar (35-17), L vs. McNeese State (28-13)
Head Coach: Steve Campbell (Troy, 1987). Second season at UCA (11-9, .550); Fifth season overall (38-17, .691)
Key Offensive Players:
• #12 Hayden Hildebrand (So., QB): 83-of-128 (64.8%) for 1,131 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs
• #38 Blake Veasley (Sr., RB): 124 carries for 661 yards (5.3 avg.), 8 TDs; 11 catches for 61 yards (5.5 avg.), 2 TDs
• #5 Dominique Thomas (So., RB): 118 carries for 601 yards (5.1 avg.), 5 TDs; 14 catches for 178 yards (12.7 avg.), 1 TD
• #88 Desmond Smith (Jr., WR): 45 catches for 555 yards (12.3 avg.), 2 TDs
• #4 Jatavious Wilson (Jr., WR): 39 catches for 368 yards (9.4 avg.), 2 TDs
Key Defensive Players:
• #41 Devin Spurlock (Jr., DB): 51 tackles (38 solo), 2.0 TFL, 2 INTs
• #31 George Odum (So., LB): 49 tackles (31 solo), 6.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 FF
• #43 Ricky Wyatt (Sr., LB): 45 tackles (26 solo), 10.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 FR
• #29 Tremon Smith (So., CB): 33 tackles (27 solo), 1.0 TFL, 4 INTs, 9 PBU, 2 FF
• #3 Jonathan Woodard (Sr., DE): 19 tackles (9 solo), 7.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 1 BK
Synopsis: Central Arkansas enters the week at 5-3 overall and 5-1 in Southland Conference play, sitting tied for second in the conference standings. The Bears have won two-straight, including a 21-16 win against Southeastern Louisiana last Saturday, with UCA's lone SLC loss coming in a 28-13 defeat to conference leader McNeese State. Central Arkansas is averaging 28.4 points and 421.2 yards per game, running a balanced offensive attack which accounts for 199.4 rushing yards and 221.9 passing yards per game. RB Dominique Thomas has accounted for nearly 800 yards of offense for the Bears, rushing for 601 yards while recording 178 receiving yards. Defensively, UCA is allowing 22.5 points and 368.0 yards per game and have been tough against the run all season, allowing 133.9 yards per game. DE Jonathan  Woodard continues to anchor the UCA defensive unit, recording seven tackles for loss and four sacks, with Devin Spurlock leading the Bears with 51 tackles on the year.

Stephen F. Austin and Central Arkansas meet for the 10th time Saturday as the Bears hold a 6-3 (.667) edge in the all-time series, dating back to 2006. UCA has won the last two games, including last season's 49-39 victory in Nacogdoches, and is 3-1 all-time against the Lumberjacks in Conway. SFA's lone win at Estes Stadium came in 2009 when the 'Jacks outlasted the Bears 33-30, as the 'Jacks also earned wins in 2010 (30-7) and 2012 (42-37).

Stephen F. Austin put together its most complete game of the season to date on Homecoming as the Lumberjacks raced past Incarnate Word 55-21. SFA scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to pull away from the Cardinals as the Lumberjack defense limited UIW to just 64 second half yards and recorded two defensive touchdowns of its own, the first for the Lumberjacks since 2011. Zach Conque threw for 270 yards and four touchdowns while Aaron Piper logged a career-best six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Loren Easly added to his impressive freshman campaign with 85 rushing yards, including a 41-yard touchdown run to open the game. Mason Juhl hit a 48-yard field goal at the end of the first half, a new career-best and the longest SFA field goal since 2009.

One thing that should be expected Saturday when SFA and Central Arkansas meet is no shortage of points. The Lumberjacks and Bears have put up some impressive point totals in their nine previous games as the two teams are averaging a combined 72 points per game (38.7 for UCA and 33.6 for SFA), with the victorious team averaging 42 points in the nine game series. The highest total between the two came in 2013 when SFA and UCA combined for 97 points in a 66-31 Bears victory, followed closely behind by the combined 90 points in UCA's 49-41 win in 2008. The lowest combined total for the two teams was 37 points in 2010 when SFA won a "defensive struggle," 30-7.

Sophomore WR Aaron Piper logged his best game in a Lumberjack uniform Saturday against Incarnate Word, pulling in six passes for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Piper turned a slant route into a 66-yard touchdown catch and run late in the second quarter, going down as the longest touchdown pass since 2013, while adding a 26-yard touchdown catch and run in the third quarter as part of a 28-0 run to close the game for the Lumberjacks. The 139-yard receiving game was the most for the Lumberjacks since Tyler Boyd's 229-yard receiving game against Lamar in 2013 as Piper becomes the first SFA receiver to log a 100-yard receiving game in 2015.

Freshman RB Loren Easly continued the solid start to his SFA career, rushing for 85 yards on 10 carries against Incarnate Word, including a 41-yard touchdown rush to open the game for the Lumberjacks. Through the first seven games of his career, Easly has rushed for 604 yards on 92 carries, averaging 6.6 yards per carry, with four touchdowns. Three of his touchdown rushes have been explosive plays, including an 80-yarder against Sam Houston State and a 75 touchdown rush at third-ranked TCU, going down as the fourth (tied) and eighth longest rushes in program history.

Stephen F. Austin's defensive unit has started to find its groove in the past few games and have helped turn the tide in the Lumberjacks' three-game winning streak. Defensively, SFA had two touchdowns in the win over Incarnate Word, a 47-yard fumble return by Tre Rosser and a 13-yard interception return for Marlon Walls, marking the first time since 2011 the 'Jacks have recorded a pair of defensive scores in the same game. SFA's defense also came up big in the second half, limiting the Cardinals to just 64 total yards over the final two quarters and just 47 following the third quarter fumble.

Junior QB Zach Conque had another impressive performance in the win over Incarnate Word Saturday, completing 22 of his 33 passes for 270 yards and a career-best four touchdowns. Conque now has 26 career touchdown passes, tied for ninth all-time in program history, as he remains one of just two Division I quarterbacks that have both passed and rushed for at least 20 touchdowns in the last two seasons (joined by Montana State's Dakota Prukop). With his efforts over the weekend, Conque surpassed 5,000 total offense yards, sitting at 5,010 for his career, which is ninth all-time in SFA history. He also ranks in the top-10 in three other categories, including tied for sixth in career rushing touchdowns (26), seventh in career completions (371) and moving into ninth in career passing yards (3,949), putting him among SFA's all-time leaders in five statistical categories.

For the second-straight season, SFA fans will see a hefty dose of purple on game days. The Lumberjacks go head-to-head with four other schools in 2015 that also boast purple as their primary color, including TCU, Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas and Northwestern State, building on the six games the 'Jacks had against purple foes in 2014. While the Lumberjacks embrace the purple, they haven't fared well against their counterparts in the past two seasons, posting just a 2-5 (.289) record against purple foes.

Saturday's game at Central Arkansas marks the 12th time in program history the Lumberjacks will suit up on November 7th, posting a 3-8 (.273) record on the date. SFA has won its last two November 7th games, the last of which was a 31-27 victory over Nicholls in 2009. SFA's last road game on the date came back in 1970, a 41-28 loss at Angelo State, with the Lumberjacks' lone November 7th road win coming in 1959 when SFA won at Howard Payne 21-7.

Stephen F. Austin returns home for the final home game of the 2015 season next Saturday, November 14th, playing host to Houston Baptist. It marks the Huskies' first ever trip to Nacogdoches as the Lumberjacks will honor their 15 seniors prior to the game. Kickoff against HBU is set for 3 p.m. and will be broadcast worldwide through ESPN3.

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Courtesy: SFA Athletics