SAN ANTONIO, TX (Press Release)– Powered by six total touchdowns from quarterback Zach Conque, Stephen F. Austin returned to its winning ways, racing past Incarnate Word 42-19 at Benson Stadium. The win snaps the Lumberjacks’ three game losing skid as SFA improves to 4-4 on the year and 3-3 in Southland Conference play.
“I thought we did a lot of things well tonight.” said head coach Clint Conque. “Offensively, we made some big plays, defensively, we had some big turnovers and key stops. A lot of young players have been thrown into the fire and they stepped up when they needed to.”
Conque finished the night with 296 yards of total offense and had a hand in all six of SFA’s touchdowns in its first game in San Antonio since 1947. Conque passed for 229 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 67 yards and three scores as well, setting a new career-high.
In all, SFA accumulated 564 yards of total offense, including a season-best 321 yards rushing. Joshawa West led the way on the ground for the ‘Jacks with 117 yards, his first 100-yard-plus rushing performance of the season. Loren Easly added 86 yards to go along with Conque’s 67 as nine different players had at least one carry for the ‘Jacks.
Among the receiving corps, Trae Hart had six catches for a career-best 86 yards and a touchdown, followed by Tamrick Pace’s five catches for 75 yards and a score. De’Quann Ruffinhauled in the other touchdown reception, finishing with two catches for 46 yards on the night.
Defensively, the ‘Jacks provided pressure all night, finishing with 12 tackles for loss, six sacks and forcing three turnovers. Zack Starnes and Price Miller each had interceptions on the night for SFA, both of which led to Lumberjack touchdown drives, while John Franklin registered a forced fumble and return off a fumble.
George Stone finished with 10 total tackles against the Cardinals, including a team-best 3.5 tackles for loss, with Marlon Walls adding six tackles and Trent Perriman and Ryan Woodsboth registering five.
Playing in front of a large SFA contingent, which seemed to outnumber the UIW fans, SFA was put on its heels early as a blocked punt on its first drive of the game gave the Cardinals the ball on the Lumberjack 15-yard line. But SFA’s defense came up with a big stop, limiting UIW to just an early field goal and a 3-0 lead after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter with the Cardinals deep in their own territory, Franklin registered a sack and a forced fumble, picking up the loose ball and rumbling down to the three-yard line. Conque would punch it in three plays later, giving SFA the 7-3 lead it would never relinquish.
With Incarnate Word threatening inside the red zone later in the quarter, Starnes intercepted a pass in the endzone and raced 46 yards upfield, ending the threat and giving SFA prime field position. The ‘Jacks took advantage, marching the 54 yards in seven plays and finishing with a seven-yard touchdown run by Conque, taking a 14-3 lead into halftime.
The second half started out in similar fashion for both teams as an SFA turnover led to a short field goal from Incarnate Word. The ‘Jacks’ defense held firm on a first and goal at the three-yard line, limiting the Cardinals to a field goal as the deficit was cut to 14-6.
SFA responded with 56-yard kickoff return from Alize Ward, giving the Lumberjacks a short field yet again. The ‘Jacks went 34 yards in four plays as Conque rushed for his third touchdown of the night, a 17-yard effort which saw him drag a handful of Cardinal defenders over the final five yards, extending SFA’s lead to 21-6.
Miller’s interception on UIW’s next drive gave SFA excellent field position once again, starting on the Cardinal 32-yard line. The ‘Jacks didn’t waste any time taking advantage as Conque threw a pass into the endzone to Ruffin on the first play, hauling in a circus catch to extend SFA’s lead to 28-6 after three quarters.
The ‘Jacks would put this game away in the fourth quarter as Conque threw two more touchdown passes, beginning with a 53-yard catch and run to Hart, followed by a 40-yarder to Pace, putting SFA on top 42-12 and cruising to the 42-19 win.
The victory for the Lumberjacks was its third-straight over Incarnate Word, winning all three games in the series against the Cardinals. It also marked SFA’s first win in San Antonio in 75 years, dating back to when the Lumberjacks defeated Trinity 6-0 in 1941.
SFA now closes the door on October and prepares for the stretch run of the 2016 season as two of the final three games will be played at Homer Bryce Stadium. That stretch starts next Saturday when the Lumberjacks host Central Arkansas on Saturday, November 5th. The game against the Bears marks SFA’s Homecoming game for the 2016 season, kicking off at 2:30 p.m.