SHERMAN, Texas – It was a tale of two halves at Jerry Apple Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Austin College football team turned the ball over three times in the first half on its way to a 20-10 halftime deficit only to explode for 23 points in the second half to win going away with a final of 33-22 against the Sewanee Tigers. The win is the second straight for the ’Roos and brings them to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference action on the year.
Austin College got the scoring going early when a 50-yard run by Ross Hasten set up a Jonathan Hersh 27-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with just under a minute and a half elapsed. The ’Roos seemed to have Sewanee stopped on their first possession but a muffed punt gave it back to the Tigers at the Austin College 38, and five plays later Ben Cleveland scored from a yard out to make it 7-3 in favor of the visitors with 9:15 remaining.
The Tigers would take advantage of another Austin College turnover late in the opening quarter when Zach Mamot lost the ball at the Austin College 45, and after a Patrick Shelton 42 yard completion to David Craig and a pass interference call on Austin College the Tigers got their second score when Cleveland rushed two yards to make it 14-3.
Austin College cut into the Sewanee lead on the very next possession when Matt Burton burst through the line and raced 34-yards for the touchdown to make it 14-10 with 13:05 left in the half. The Tigers pushed the lead to 17-10 with 4:28 left in the half on a 30-yard field goal by Andrew Gould, and got the ball back just two plays later when Ross Hasten lost the ball on the ensuing Austin College drive.
The Tigers drove down to the 2-yard line, but a pair of incomplete passes and a false start penalty pushed them back to the seven and forced them to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Gould to end the half leading 20-10.
That remained the score until late in the third quarter when Hasten got around the right end and went 52-yards for the touchdown to cut it to a 20-17 game, and the momentum shifted completely in Austin College’s favor when Tilden Leamon picked off a Shelton pass on the very next play and raced 52-yards for the touchdown to give the ’Roos a 23-20 lead.
The Tigers looked to be on the verge of getting some of the momentum back when Chalankis Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards to get deep into Austin College territory, but David Tibbets delivered a big hit on Shelton to force the ball loose with Josh Willis recovering at the 10-yard line and end the Sewanee threat.
The ’Roos extended their lead to 26-20 with just under seven minutes remaining on a 24-yard field goal by Hersh that was set up by a 43-yard punt return by Matt Finke, and on the next Sewanee possession Craig lost the ball after a short catch with Matt Orr recovering at the Austin College 18. Two plays later Andy Braly found Zach Koerner for a 16-yard touchdown to make it a 33-20 game with 5:25 left on the clock.
The Tigers went to a hurry up offense and were threatening on their next possession with Shelton completing five straight passes, but Willis came up with a big interception at the Austin College 3-yard line. The Tigers got their only points of the half on the Austin College possession when Willis ran out of the back of the endzone for the safety to make it 33-22 with under three minutes left.
Shelton completed a 22-yard pass and rushed for 12 yards on the next Sewanee possession, but Willis again stepped in front of a pass and returned it 30 yards to the Austin College 40 to seal the victory for the ’Roos.
Hasten had two carries of more than 50 yards on his way to 132 yards on 12 carries, while Braly completed 5-of-11 passes for 36 yards and added 27 yards on the ground. As a team, the ’Roos had 39 rushing attempts for 187 yards. Andy Stowe led the ’Roos with 10 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and a sack. Chris Hickson and Scooter Means each had eight stops and Willis finished with seven tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Shelton finished the game completing 21-of-40 passes for 253 yards but was picked off three times, and Cleveland rushed 30 times for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Bruce Bentley had six catches for 117 yards to lead all receivers. Brown joined three other players with six tackles to lead Sewanee and added a tackle for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Strangely, despite the dominant second half and final score, the ’Roos had the ball for more than 13 fewer minutes, with the Tigers outgaining the ’Roos 361-223 and running 34 more plays than Austin College.
Austin College heads on the road next week to take on Birmingham-Southern College and returns home on October 25 for their Homecoming matchup against Rhodes College.
Austin College athletic teams participate as a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.