SFA hosts 17th-ranked Central Arkansas Saturday for Homecoming 2016

SFA hosts 17th-ranked Central Arkansas Saturday for Homecoming 2016

Stephen F. Austin returns to Homer Bryce Stadium for a key Southland Conference showdown, facing 17th-ranked Central Arkansas. The game against the Bears, sponsored by Suddenlink, marks the Lumberjacks' Homecoming game for the 2016 season, airing nationally on the American Sports Network, kicking off at 2:30 p.m.

For the first time since becoming a broadcast partner with the Southland Conference, the American Sports Network will visit Homer Bryce Stadium to broadcast Stephen F. Austin's Homecoming showdown with Central Arkansas. Lyn Rollins (play-by-play) and Butch Alsandor (analyst) will have the call with Tatum Everett on the sideline as the game will broadcast locally on KTPN "The Z" out of Tyler-Longview. Coverage can be found locally on Suddenlink channels 9 (SD) and 109 (HD), as well as over-the-air on channels 47.1 and 51.2. Altitude2 will also carry the game and can be found on DirecTV channel 681-1 and channel 440 on  Dish. Rob Meyers, the voice of the Lumberjacks, will call the game along with analyst Tyler DePascal on Q107.7 FM, available online at Q1077.com as well as through the Lumberjack Sports Network on the TuneIn app. Live stats will be available at SFAJacks.com, complemented by Twitter updates @SFA_Football.

SFA will welcome alumni from all over back to Nacogdoches for today's 2016 Homecoming game against Central Arkansas. Beginning in 1929, the Lumberjacks are 40-35-1 all-time in Homecoming games, emerging victorious in each of the last five seasons. Central Arkansas will be making its first appearance as SFA's Homecoming opponent as Sam Houston State has been the most frequent foe, facing the 'Jacks 18 times on Homecoming.

2016: 7-1 overall, 6-0 Southland Conference. Ranked 17/17 in this week's FCS coaches/media polls
Last Three Games: W at Southeastern Louisiana (45-10), W vs. Lamar (22-12), W at McNeese (35-0)
Head Coach: Steve Campbell (Troy State, 1987). Third season at UCA (20-11, .645); sixth season overall (47-19, .712)
Key Offensive Players:
• #12 Hayden Hildebrand (Jr., QB): 134-of-219 (61.2%) for 1,830 yds., 13 TDs, 3 INTs; 31 rushes for 218 yds., 4 TDs
• #23 Carlos Blackman (Fr., RB): 93 rushes for 414 yds., 1 TD
• #34 Antwon Wells (Sr., RB): 88 rushes for 378 yds., 6 TDs
• #4 Jatavious Wilson (Sr., WR): 43 catches for 622 yds., 3 TDs
• #88 Desmond Smith (Sr., WR): 38 catches for 551 yds., 4 TDs
Key Defensive Players:
• #31 George Odum (Jr., LB): 55 tackles (35 solo), 5.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 FF, 1 FR
• #2 Devin Spurlock (Sr., DB): 44 tackles (30 solo), 0.5 TFL, 1 INT
• #10 James Graves (Jr., LB): 34 tackles (14 solo), 4.0 TFL
• #95 Chris Terrell (So., DL): 24 tackles (14 solo), 10.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks
• #98 Jordan Toliver (Sr., DL): 22 tackles (11 solo), 7.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks
Synopsis: Central Arkansas enters the week tied for first in the Southland Conference standings, posting a perfect 6-0 record in conference play and 7-1 overall. The Bears are coming off a 45-10 win at Southeastern Louisiana while also notching a 35-0 win at McNeese on Oct. 15 after defeating FBS foe Arkansas State 28-23 on Sept. 24. UCA is averaging 37.1 points and 460.8 yards per game, running a balanced offensive attack that averages 227.9 rushing and 232.9 passing yards per game. QB Hayden Hildebrand has thrown for 1,830 yards and 13 touchdowns as WRs Jatavious Wilson and Desmond Smith have combined for 81 catches and 1,173 of those yards. On the ground, Carlos Blackman and Antwon Wells have combined for 181 carries for 821 yards as well. Defensively, Central Arkansas is one of the toughest in the nation, allowing just 16.2 points and 276.9 yards, including 61.0 rushing and 215.9 passing. LB George Odum is the Bears' leading tackler with 55 on the year, including 5.5 tackles for loss, with DB Devin Spurlock adding 44 tackles. DL Chris Terrell leads UCA with 10.0 tackles for loss with DL Jordan Toliver adding 7.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks.

Saturday's game is the 11th all-time meeting between Stephen F. Austin and Central Arkansas with the Bears holding a 7-3 (.700) edge in the series. UCA has won three-straight over the Lumberjacks, including last year's 36-24 victory in Conway, as SFA is 2-3 all-time against the Bears at Homer Bryce Stadium. The Lumberjacks' last win in the series came in 2012, defeating the Bears 42-37 in a torrential downpour in Nacogdoches.

Stephen F. Austin put an end to its three-game losing skid, racing past Incarnate Word 42-19 in its first trip to San Antonio since 1947. QB Zach Conque had a hand in all six Lumberjack touchdowns on the night, rushing for three and throwing for three and finishing with 296 yards of total offense. After going scoreless through the first 15 minutes, the 'Jacks scored two touchdowns in each of the next three quarters, building a 42-12 lead early in the fourth quarter. Turnovers also played a key role in the win as a forced fumble by John Franklin and interceptions by Zack Starnes and Price Miller all lead to Lumberjack scoring drives. RB Joshawa West rushed for 117 yards, his first 100-yard rushing output of the season, as LB George Stone posted 10 tackles defensively.

Senior QB Zach Conque continues to move up the career charts at SFA, now ranking among the program's all-time top-10 in six statistical categories. With his six total touchdowns at Incarnate Word, he upped his career total to 74 and now is tied for second all-time in career rushing touchdowns (32) with Hall of Famer Leonard Harris (1992-95). Conque also ranks fourth in both career total offense (7,333) and career completions (537) while ranking sixth in career passing yards (5,936) and seventh in career touchdown passes (41). With his three rushing touchdowns, Conque has scored 198 points in his Lumberjack career, cracking the top-10 in program history, while his 1,397 career rushing yards ranks 19th all-time and tops among SFA quarterbacks. Saturday's performance was the eighth time in Conque's career he had at least four touchdowns in a game and the six was a new career-high, becoming the first Lumberjack to register six touchdowns in a game since Brady Attaway against Nicholls in 2013, earning SLC Offensive Player of the Week honorable mention honors.

Arguably one of the strengths of the Lumberjacks the last few seasons has been the play of its defensive line, and 2016 has been no exception, anchored by veterans Kedrick Harrison and John Franklin. The duo have each registered 10.5 tackles for loss on the year with Harrison recording 7.5 sacks, complemented by 6.0 from Franklin. Led by their efforts, Stephen F. Austin ranks sixth nationally in sacks per game (3.38) and 14th in tackles for loss (7.6) as Harrison is fifth in program history in career tackles for loss (33.5) and eighth in career sacks (18.0).

Senior RB Joshawa West continues to add to his reputation as the Lumberjacks "do-it-all player." Against Incarnate Word Saturday, he rushed for a season-high 117 yards on just eight carries, moving into 16th all-time in career rushing yards with 1,523. West has also caught 74 passes for 539 yards while returning 37 kicks for 679 yards, giving him 2,741 all-purpose yards during his Lumberjack career and sitting on the verge of cracking the program's all-time top-10.

SFA boasts a unique distinction of having three members of the Lumberjack 1,000-yard rushing club on its current roster. RB Joshawa West has rushed for 1,523 yards, ranking 16th all-time, with QB Zach Conque tallying 1,397 rushing yards (19th) and RB Loren Easly sitting at 1,180 rushing yards (23rd), giving the trio a combined career rushing tally of 4,100 yards, averaging just shy of five yards per carry between them with 45 career touchdowns.

Senior LB George Stone has made his presence felt in the Lumberjack defensive unit in 2016, impacting games in a variety of ways. Stone posted his third 10-plus tackle game in the win over Incarnate Word, leading the Lumberjacks with 10 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss. The Louisville, Kentucky native leads SFA with 58 tackles on the year, including 25 solo stops, with 6.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions, getting those picks in back-to-back games against Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana. His three 10-tackle games are the most on the team, joined by LB Price Miller (15 vs. Abilene Christian), CB Aaron Foy (10 at Nicholls) and S Marlon Walls (10 vs. Southeastern Louisiana).

Saturday's game against Central Arkansas will pit two of the top rushing defenses in the nation head-to-head. The Bears rank first nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 61.0 yards per game, while SFA is 20th nationally at 119.1 yards per game. The Lumberjacks are coming off a strong defensive effort, limiting Incarnate Word to just 99 rushing yards in the 42-19 win Saturday. It was the third time this season SFA had held an opponent to under 100 yards rushing, holding West Alabama to 35 rushing yards while limiting Abilene Christian to 66.

While it may not have been written into the script from the beginning of the season, Stephen F. Austin has seen significant contributions from the youngsters in the program, providing experience for the future. 20 redshirt or true freshman have seen action for the Lumberjacks thus far in 2016 as 10 appear in this week's two-deep, including projected starters WR Tamrick Pace, LG A.J. Brown, RG Travis Lock and WS Alize Ward with K Storm Ruiz handling all of the Lumberjacks' place kicking duties.

Entering the final month of the 2016 season, Stephen F. Austin finds itself among the national FCS leaders in a number of categories. As a team, the Lumberjacks rank sixth nationally in  both sacks per game (3.38) and fumbles recovered (10), 13th in passing offense (285.8 ypg), 14th in tackles for loss per game (7.6), 19th in punt return average (13.5 ypr) and 20th in rush defense (119.1). Individually, DE Kedrick Harrison is seventh nationally in sacks per game (0.94), DE John Franklin is 10th in fumbles recovered (2) and 12th in forced fumbles (3), WR/PR Trae Hart is 13th in punt return average (13.9) and QB Zach Conque 18th in rushing touchdowns (8).

The anchor of three of the greatest Ladyjack women's basketball teams in school history, an All-American and Southland Conference track champion and a pair of All-American football teammates with lengthy NFL careers comprise the 2016 Stephen F. Austin Hall of Fame class. Stacy Brown-Hairgrove (women's basketball), Ron Clark (track and field), Mikhael Ricks (football) and Chad Stanley (football) have been announced as the four members of the 2016 Hall of Fame class. The quartet will be inducted during the SFA Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, November 5th, and will be recognized during halftime of the Lumberjacks' Homecoming football game.

Stephen F. Austin has experienced some success on games played on November 5th, posting a 7-4 all-time record on the date. The Lumberjacks' first game on the fifth of November came in 1927 with the last occurring in 2011, a 69-10 win at Lamar. SFA has won its last four games played on November 5th, defeating Howard Payne 31-3 in 1977, beating Nicholls 30-7 in 1988 and downing UC Davis 27-17 in 2005, as the Lumberjacks are 4-3 at home in games played on November 5th.