Stephen F. Austin hosts West Alabama Saturday in 2016 home opener

Stephen F. Austin hosts West Alabama Saturday in 2016 home opener

SFA Athletics

Nacogdoches, Tx (Press Release)

Stephen F. Austin opens up the home portion of its 90th football season Saturday, September 10th, hosting West Alabama at 6 p.m. at Homer Bryce Stadium. The Lumberjacks and Tigers have met once previously as Saturday's game marks the start of the 44th season of Lumberjack football between the hills at Homer Bryce.

SFA's 2016 home opener against West Alabama Saturday will mark the second year of the Lumberjacks' ESPN3 deal. For the second-straight year, all SFA home games will be broadcast online at ESPN3, available online at and through the WatchESPN app for mobile devices and portable electronics. Rob Meyers is back for another season as the "Voice of the 'Jacks," with a number of different ways to listen to the game. Q107.7 FM will once again serve as the radio home of SFA Football, streaming online at New this year, fans can also catch the game through the TuneIn app on iPhone and Android devices. Search for "Stephen F. Austin" as the new channel will carry all games live worldwide.

Since Homer Bryce Stadium opened in 1973, SFA has enjoyed a great deal of success between the hills. The Lumberjacks have compiled a 151-99-2 (.603) record at home, earning their 150th win at Homer Bryce with the 55-21 victory over Incarnate Word on Oct. 31, 2015. The 'Jacks have notched a winning home record in 29 of the 43 seasons Homer Bryce Stadium has served as the home of the Lumberjacks with the 3-2 mark in 2015 solidifying their seventh-straight home winning record, posting a 30-10 (.750) record at Homer Bryce during that span. The Lumberjacks have enjoyed six perfect home seasons at Homer Bryce (1979, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2009 and 2012) and are 4-1 (.800) at home in NCAA postseason games.

2016 Record: 0-1 overall, 0-0 Gulf South Conference
Last Game: L at North Greenville 24-23
Head Coach: Brett Gilliland (West Alabama, 2004). Third season at West Alabama and overall (12-11, .522)
Key Offensive Players:
• #1 Austin Grammer (Sr., QB): 29-of-42 (69.1%) for 266 yds. (266.0 avg.), 2 TDs, 1 INT; 9 rushes for 32 yds. (3.6 avg.), 1 TD
• #23 Lakenderic Thomas (Sr., RB): 18 rushes for 124 yds. (6.9 avg.), long of 46
• #17 Donta Armstrong (Jr., WR): 11 catches for 137 yds. (12.5 avg.), 1 TD
• #25 Christian Patterson (So., TE): 6 catches for 46 yds. (7.7 avg.), long of 22
• #9 Barnard McGhee (Jr., WR): 3 catches for 24 yds. (8.0 avg.), long of 16
Key Defensive Players:
• #16 Se'quan Steele (Jr., DB): 6 tackles (5 solo), 1.0 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FF
• #18 Tavarious Hutchinson (R-Fr., DB): 6 tackles (4 solo)
• #42 Jordan Jones (R-Fr., LB): 6 tackles (2 solo), 1.5 TFL
• #99 Michael Williams (Jr., DT): 6 tackles (1 solo)
• #19 Darius Ellis (So., Ban.): 3 tackles (2 solo), 1.0 TFL, 1.0 sack
Synopsis: West Alabama opened the 2016 season with a 24-23 loss at North Greenville on Thursday, September 1st. The Tigers fell behind 10-0 early in the first quarter, rallying back to take a 23-17 lead with 7:32 remaining in the game. But a blocked extra point proved critical as North Greenville scored with under two minutes to go, handing West Alabama the 24-23 defeat. QB Austin Grammer completed 69 percent of his passes for 266 yards, 137 of which went to WR Donta Armstrong on 11 catches. On the ground, RB Lakenderic Thomas rushed for 124 yards, averaging just shy of seven yards per carry. Defensively, the Tigers had a balanced performance against the Crusaders as four different players finished with six tackles each. LB Jordan Jones was one of those, finishing with 1.5 tackles for loss, while DB Se'quan Steele had a tackle for loss as well as a forced fumble.

Stephen F. Austin and  West Alabama have met once previously as SFA defeated then-Livingston University 49-28 on September 18, 1993 at Homer Bryce Stadium. The Lumberjacks rushed for 409 yards, holding the Tigers to just 59 yards on the ground ,as Curtis Luper ran for 155 yards and Leonard Harris racked up 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Leading 28-21 at the half, SFA outscored West Alabama 21-7 in the second half to preserve the victory. Head coach Clint Conque is 2-0 in his career against West Alabama, defeating the Tigers in both 2002 and 2003.

Stephen F. Austin's game Saturday against West Alabama will be the 11th game in program history against a current member of the Gulf South Conference with the 'Jacks holding a 6-4 overall record. The most frequent opponent SFA has lined up against has been Delta State with the Lumberjacks posting a 5-2 record against the Statesmen, falling to Delta State 17-14 in 2006 in their most recent tilt against the Gulf South. SFA is 0-2 all-time against Mississippi College, dropping decisions to the Choctaws in both 1981 and 1983 and is 1-0 against West Alabama, a 49-28 victory in 1993.

Stephen F. Austin's 90th season of football started out on a sour note as the Lumberjacks fell to Big 12 member Texas Tech 69-17 on Saturday, September 3rd at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. The 'Jacks allowed 758 yards of total offense to the Red Raiders while managing just 370 of their own, including 312 passing yards. WR Justice Liggins had the top performance of the night for the Lumberjacks, setting a career-high with 10 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown as QB Zach Conque completed 28 of his 49 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown. The 'Jacks did manage to put up 17 points against the Red Raiders, the most in program history for SFA against a Big 12 opponent.

Senior QB Zach Conque sits on the verge of joining an elite club in the history of Stephen F. Austin. With his 246 passing yards in the season opener at Texas Tech, Conque upped his career passing total to 4,912 yards, leaving him 88 yards shy of becoming the eighth 5,000-yard passer in program history. Once he reaches the milestone, he will hold a unique distinction as the only player in Lumberjack program history to pass for 5,000 yards and rush for 1,000 during his career. In addition to Conque's standing among the all-time passing leaders, he also currently ranks fourth all-time in total completions (454), sixth in career total offense (6,073 yards) and tied for eighth in career touchdown passes (32). He also holds the distinction as the top rushing quarterback in program history, accumulating 1,161 yards on the ground with 24 touchdowns, ranking tied for fourth all-time in program history in career rushing scores.

Senior WR Justice Liggins was one of the 'Jacks top players in the season opener at Texas Tech, leading the team with 10 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Liggins set new personal-bests in both receptions and yards, besting his previous best of six catches (at Southeastern Louisiana, 2015) and 74 receiving yards (at Abilene Christian, 2015), hauling in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Zach Conque in the third quarter for the first touchdown of 2016.

Senior RB Joshawa West continues to quietly make his way up the Lumberjack all-time rushing chart, carrying the ball 12 times for 51 yards against Texas Tech Saturday. The Angleton native upped his career rushing total to 1,166 yards, moving into 22nd all-time in career rushing yards at SFA, while upping his career total offense total to 1,586 yards.

Senior DE Kedrick Harrison continued to add to his reputation as one of the top defensive ends in the conference Saturday, registering a sack against Texas Tech's Nick Shimoneck. The sack was the 24th tackle for loss of Harrison's Lumberjack career as he continues to inch closer to cracking the 'Jacks' all-time leaders in the category, sitting two and a half TFLs shy of tying Willie Jefferson (2011-12) for 10th all-time. The Coldspring native also has 11.5 career sacks, needing three and a half more to join the top-10 as well.

When the dust settled in Lubbock Saturday night, 29 Stephen F. Austin players had played in their first game in a Lumberjack uniform. One of the highlights for the newcomers was freshman WR Tamrick Pace, who caught two passes for 48 yards as well as his first collegiate touchdown, a 38-yard reception from Hunter Taylor. Defensively, freshman CB Zach Hallposted five tackles for the 'Jacks, including four solo stops, while S Zack Kanipes registered four tackles and his first career sack.

In addition to the 29 Lumberjacks who saw their first action in an SFA uniform Saturday, seven logged their first start at the Division I level as well. Offensively, four players earned the starting nod for the first time, three of which came on the offensive line in LG A.J. Brown, RGShane Roberson and RT Devonte Jones, joined by WR Kiki Hill. Defensively, CB Trent Perriman, FS Ahmad Muhammad and WS Alize Ward also logged their first SFA starts.

One of the Achilles heels for SFA in the past few seasons has been inconsistency in the kicking game, but the unit showed signs of optimism in Saturday's season opener. Redshirt freshmanStorm Ruiz began his career by hitting a 43-yard field goal in his first collegiate attempt while also adding a pair of extra point. Sophomore Caleb Lewallen made his debut as the 'Jacks' punter and had a pair of punts 50 yards or longer, including a 63-yarder to set his career high. SFA did miss a 47-yarder against Texas Tech, a kick by Troy Duran that was partially blocked at the line of scrimmage.

Saturday's game against West Alabama will not only serve as the 2016 home opener, but also the official debut of the Lumberjacks' new HD video board in a football capacity. The board, which measures 36' 10" high by 80' 8" wide, is the largest in the Southland Conference and the third-largest at the FCS level, ranking among the top-35 nationally in all of college football. The new board has already been showcased in a number of events, including the 2016 Carl Kight Track and Field Invitational, the 2016 SFA football spring game and movie night, featuring Star Wars: Episode VII, as well as showing the 2016 NCAA Division I Bowling Championship, captured by the Ladyjack bowling team.

Saturday's game against West Alabama will mark the seventh time in program history the Lumberjacks will suit up on September 10th, although it has been a date that has not been kind to the 'Jacks. SFA is 1-5 (.167) on the 10th as five of those games have been at home - the last of which was a 34-23 loss to Northern Iowa in 2011 - as the span also includes defeats at the hands of Texas-Arlington (1960), Cameron (1977), and a pair against Montana State (1994 and 2005). The Lumberjacks' lone win on September 10th came at Homer Bryce Stadium in 1988 when SFA defeated Prairie View A&M 38-3.