SFA looking for big win on Homecoming

hosting Lamar

SFA looking for big win on Homecoming
(Source: SFA Athletics)

From SFA Athletics

After scoring the most points in a game since 2016 with a 42-14 road rout of Houston Baptist this past weekend, the Stephen F. Austin football team returns to the comforts of Nacogdoches and Homer Bryce Stadium for Homecoming 2018 against the Cardinals of Lamar. With Pilgrim's as the presenting sponsor, the Lumberjacks will vie for their second-straight Southland Conference victory as the two teams are set for a 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday, Oct. 27.


Saturday afternoon's game will be broadcast live everywhere on ESPN+, which is available for streaming via ESPN.com and the ESPN app. Rob Meyers, the voice of the Lumberjacks, will provide play-by-play of the live broadcast alongside color commentary from Kevin Langford. The duo will also have the call of the game 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 from @SFA_Football.


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Saturday, alumni, friends and family from all over the Lone Star State and nationwide will flock to Texas' oldest town and the campus of SFA for Homecoming 2018. The 'Jacks hold a 41-36-1 (.532) all-time record in homecoming games since the tradition began on Nov. 28, 1929, when SFA defeated Sam Houston State by a score of 14-12. In six of the last seven and seven of the previous nine homecoming contests, the 'Jacks have emerged victorious with wins over Sam Houston State, McNeese, Nicholls twice, Southeastern Louisiana, the University of the Incarnate Word and Houston Baptist. SFA has had just two missteps on homecoming since 2008. On homecoming last year, the 'Jacks earned a 27-10 win over HBU as the Huskies made their homecoming debut. Once again this year, a team will be making its debut as a homecoming opponent for SFA with Lamar having the honors Saturday. The Lumberjacks' most frequent homecoming opponent has been Sam Houston State as SFA has faced the Bearkats a total of 18 times in homecoming affairs.


The 2018 SFA Hall of Fame Class will be inducted during halftime of Saturday's game. A trio of individuals associated with the men's basketball team and one of the best running backs in the history of Lumberjack football make up the class. Former men's basketball stars Marcus Clark and the late Pete Harris join former men's basketball head coach Danny Kaspar and gridiron star Leonard Harris as the newest members of SFA's Hall of Fame. With Harris on their side, the Lumberjacks of the mid-90's possessed one of NCAA Division 1-AA's most potent ground attacks. A four-year starter and letterman, Harris amassed a staggering 3,771 rushing yards to become the first 'Jack in a quarter-century to eclipse the 3,000-yard rushing mark. His rushing total stood as the program record for almost two decades and to this day he ranks among the top 10 in program history in a multitude of statistical categories, including ninth in career all-purpose yards (4,171), second in career rushing touchdowns (32), ninth in career points (204), fifth (1995) and eighth (1994) in single-season rushing yards (1,081 and 1,023, respectively), and ninth in single-season rushing touchdowns (10).


For the 12th time in program history, SFA will be taking to the gridiron for competition on Oct. 27. The 'Jacks own a 3-7-1 (.318) record on the date with SFA's most recent Oct. 27 game taking place in 2012, a 35-24 loss at McNeese. Since the beginning of the new millennium, the 'Jacks have played on the date just twice and have competed in only four Oct. 27 contests since 1980. SFA has played inside Homer Bryce Stadium on the date just three times, in 2007 (Sam Houston State), 1951 (Southwestern Louisiana, now Louisiana at Lafayette) and 1933 (North Texas State, now North Texas).


The 'Jacks have seen just one game without any rain this season, the 93rd Battle of the Piney Woods indoors at NRG Stadium in Houston. Each of SFA's first four games this fall saw torrential downpours either right before or during the start of the game. Directly prior to kickoff of the Lumberjacks' season opener at Southeastern Conference stalwart Mississippi State, the skies opened up as a heavy rain storm moved over Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. The following weekend, SFA had to cancel its first football game since 2001 following numerous lightning delays caused by thunderstorms in and around Nacogdoches. While in San Antonio, UIW's Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium saw off and on rain squalls leading up to kickoff that lingered throughout the contest between the 'Jacks and the Cardinals. Against Abilene Christian at home, Homer Bryce Stadium experienced heavy rain showers all the way up until about 45 minutes prior to kickoff as the turf held standing water for the entirety of the game. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, SFA battled McNeese in the pouring rain as the weather did not let up for all 60 minutes of game action. In Nacogdoches two weeks ago, the clouds darkened for the second half of play between the 'Jacks and the Bears of Central Arkansas as rain began to come down in Texas' oldest town during the fourth quarter. This past Saturday in Houston against HBU, SFA played the entire first half without any rain before blustery rain showers settled above Husky Stadium for much of the second half. For a change, Saturday afternoon's forecast in east Texas is calling for sunny skies and only a 20 percent chance of precipitation.


2018: 3-4 overall, 2-3 Southland Conference (8th)

Last Three Games: Win vs. No. 10/14 Sam Houston State (41-23), Win vs. (rv/rv) UIW (27-21), Loss at No. 15/15 Nicholls (50-27)

Head Coach: Mike Schultz (Sam Houston State, 1979). Second season at Lamar (5-13, .278); Second season overall (5-13, .278)

Key Offensive Players:

• #7 Darrel Colbert Jr. (Sr., QB): 81-of-155 (52.3%) for 1,139 yds., 11 TDs, 89-yd. long, 162.7 yds. per game, 7 INTs

• #7 Darrel Colbert Jr. (Sr., QB): 116 carries for 474 yds., 4.1 yds. per rush, 9 TDs, 35-yd. long, 67.7 yds. per game

• #27 A.J. Walker (Jr., RB): 84 carries for 413 yds., 4.9 yds. per rush, 1 TD, 48-yd. long, 59 yds. per game

• #22 Myles Wanza (So., RB): 40 carries for 306 yds., 7.7 yds. per rush, 2 TDs, 35-yd. long, 76.5 yds. per game

• #23 Kirkland Banks (So., WR): 16 catches for 149 yds., 9.3 yds. per catch, 1 TD, 25-yd. long, 21.3 yds. per game

• #84 Isaiah Howard (Sr., WR): 12 catches for 156 yds., 13 yds. per catch, 1 TD, 38-yd. long, 22.3 yds. per game

• #19 Dorian Gaston (Sr., WR): 10 catches for 177 yds., 17.7 yds. per catch, 3 TDs, 43-yd. long, 25.3 yds. per game

• #1 Jawun Ruffin (Jr., WR): 8 catches for 188 yds., 23.5 yds. per catch, 2 TDs, 89-yd. long, 37.6 yds. per game

• #82 Mason Sikes (So., TE): 4 catches for 153 yds., 38.2 yds. per catch, 1 TD, 52-yd. long, 21.9 yds. per game

Key Defensive Players:

• #10 Davon Jernigan (Sr., DB): 67 tackles (52 solo), 2.5 TFL for -9 yds., 3 INTs, 6 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery

• #21 Lane Taylor (Sr., DB): 44 tackles (38 solo), 1 INT, 2 pass breakups, 1 blocked kick

• #20 Rodney Randle Jr. (Sr., DB): 39 tackles (33 solo), 1 INT, 6 pass breakups

• #11 Chaston Brooks (Sr., LB): 38 tackles (21 solo), 1.0 TFL for -5 yds., 3 pass breakups, 1 QBH, 1 forced fumble

• #90 Daniel Crosley (Jr., DE): 36 tackles (32 solo), 10.0 TFL for -42 yds., 5.0 sacks for -31 yds., 4 QBH, 1 fumble recovery

• #49 David Crosley (So., LB): 30 tackles (20 solo), 1.0 TFL for -1 yd.


In his second year at the helm of the program, head coach Mike Schultz has increased the Cardinals' win total from a season ago through just seven games in 2018. After going 2-9 overall and finishing 10th in the 11-team league with a 1-8 Southland record in 2017, Schultz has Lamar sitting at 3-4 overall and 2-4 in conference play after back-to-back victories. Despite starting 1-4 with their lone victory a season-opening 70-7 thrashing of NAIA Kentucky Christian, the Cardinals have managed to claim impressive Southland wins the past two Saturdays. Facing a very talented UIW team that was receiving votes in both national top-25 polls, senior defensive back Lane Taylor broke through the line and blocked what would be a game-winning field goal by the Cardinals of UIW. With the score knotted up at 21 and only 12 seconds remaining, junior defensive back Caleb Abrom plucked the ball from the air and sprinted 66 yards into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown as time expired. The following weekend, Lamar hosted then 10th-ranked Sam Houston State and earned a dominant 41-23 triumph. Picked to finish 10th in the Southland according to the league's preseason poll, the Cardinals rely heavily on the run and enjoy the wildcat offense with senior starting quarterback Darrel Colbert Jr. leading the team in rushing (474 yds. on 116 carries). Owning the top ground attack in the conference with a 247.7 yards per game average, Lamar is third in scoring (33.9 PPG). With three 300-yard rushers this season, including junior running back A.J. Walker (413 yds.) and sophomore running back Myles Wanza (306 yds.), the Cardinals are tops in the Southland in red zone offense, scoring 92 percent of the time with 19 touchdowns and four field goals in 25 trips inside the 20. Defensively, Lamar leads the league with 13 interceptions.


For the 34th time SFA will take on Lamar in football. The Cardinals own a 18-13-2 (.576) lead in the all-time series but the 'Jacks have won six of the last seven meetings and seven of the last nine. Despite Lamar owning a 7-6-1 (.536) record against SFA in Nacogdoches, the 'Jacks haven't dropped a game to the Cardinals in Homer Bryce Stadium since 1982. Over the last 35 years, SFA has posted an unblemished 4-0 mark against Lamar in Texas' oldest town. The last game played inside Homer Bryce in the series took place on Nov. 3, 2012, a 40-26 victory for the host 'Jacks. After a three-year break in the series, SFA renewed its geographical rival with the Cardinals by defeating Lamar 34-7 in Beaumont last fall.


Last weekend the Lumberjack defense flexed its muscles, holding HBU to just 255 yards of total offense and claiming 11 tackles for a loss of 50 yards. SFA's defensive line was relentless, making a season-high eight sacks for the most in a single game in seven years. It was the most sacks for the 'Jacks since Nov. 19, 2011, when SFA also had eight in a 33-0 shutout of Northwestern State. Senior defensive tackle Demetrion Amie (2.5), sophomore defensive tackle Rayshad Nichols (2.5) and junior linebackers Anthony Jacobs (2.0) and Teddy Britton (1.0) all broke through the line for career-high sacks.


Sophomore running back Josh McGowen was a major reason why the 'Jacks were able to rush for 219 yards against the Huskies in last Saturday's road victory. McGowen earned 132 yards on 16 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt while tallying 66 yards on a pair of catches. He broke free for a 61-yard touchdown off of a screen pass early in the third quarter to put SFA ahead 21-7. Adding four kickoff return yards, McGowen finished the game with 202 all-purpose yards for the most in a single game by a Lumberjack since Loren Easly's 214 on Oct. 3, 2015, in the 90th Battle of the Piney Woods against Sam Houston State. His 132 rushing yards were the most by a SFA running back since Kijana Amous' 142 last October at then sixth-ranked Central Arkansas.


For the second-straight week, senior wide receiver Terian Goree racked up 100 yards receiving as he reeled in a game-high nine catches for 106 yards at HBU. Against then 16th-ranked Central Arkansas in Nacogdoches, Goree racked up a career-high 122 yards on six receptions and sprinted for an 85-yard touchdown on an inside screen pass for the longest receiving play by a 'Jack since 1997. Over the last two weekends, Goree has made 15 catches for 228 yards and a touchdown. He leads all SFA receivers on the season with 44 receptions for 472 yards and two scores.


SFA features a very talented wide receiver corps in 2018 and All-Southland Second Team selection Tamrick Pace is on pace to etch his name in the program’s record book. Needing just 28 catches and two touchdown receptions to break into the Lumberjack top-10 career list in both of those categories, the junior is 21st in career receiving yards (1,743) among all ‘Jacks who have played the game. Claiming four catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns in the 93rd Battle of the Piney Woods two weeks ago, Pace became the first SFA receiver to record multiple touchdown receptions in a game since tight end Nick Jones did so on Sept. 24, 2016. In the Lumberjacks’ 24-21 home win over ACU on Sept. 22, Pace reeled in five catches for 72 yards and on opening weekend at SEC mainstay Mississippi State, Pace was the second-leading receiver in the game with five catches for 73 yards against the FBS 18th-ranked Bulldogs. He needs just 29 additional yards to move into 20th place on the program’s all-time receiving yards list.