SHERMAN, Tx – The Austin College football team opened the 2007 with a 35-21 victory over Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Saturday, rallying from a 14-0 hole to put up 35 straight points behind the strong running of Ross Hasten and Ryan Cowley and pick up the win at Jerry Apple Stadium.
Neither team was able to get much going early on offense, but a big play by the Lions defense put Austin College behind early when Willie Mitchell picked up a Travis Bromley fumble and raced 73-yards for the touchdown. Jared Baker blocked the extra point to make it 6-0 with 47 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
Southwest Assemblies struck again quickly after the ’Roos went three and out on the ensuing possession, when quarterback Jason Rice went nearly untouched from 35 yards out on the first play of the Lions next series, and Joseph Garcia found Andrew Colvin in the endzone for the two point conversion to make it 14-0 with 13:53 left in the half.
The ’Roos looked like a different team after the two scores by SAGU, however, with Hasten taking a handoff 35-yards into the endzone to make it 14-7 with 5:39 to play, and on the next Austin College possession Zach Swirczynski plunged in from two-yards out for his first collegiate score to knot things up at 14 with just under three minutes left in the half.
The ’Roos took their first lead of the game with 12:18 to play after Raymond Santibenez was tackled on a botched punt by Monty Chambers, giving Austin college the ball at the Lions 12-yard line. After a penalty moved the ball to the four-yard line, Cowley found the endzone to make it 21-14.
The lead grew to two scores on the next ’Roo possession when Austin College continued to assert its dominance on the ground, rushing 13 times for 75 yards, including a 24-yard run by Cowley and culminating in a four-yard run by Zaq Mamot to make it 28-14 with 1:36 left in the third.
The ’Roos got their final touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Hasten found the endzone for the second time on a 28-yard run, which occurred just two plays after what would have been a 32-yard run for the junior was called back on offsetting penalties.
The Lions tacked on their final score when Rice found Colvin for a four-yard touchdown pass, but the ’Roos recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock to seal the victory.
Hasten finished with 10 carries for 95 yards and a pair of scores, while Cowley rushed 12 times for 72 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Bell completed 6-of-9 passes for 85 yards and an interception, all in the first half, and also ran 13 times for 33 yards. Evan Coachman had three catches for 50 yards, including a diving 34 yard reception in his first collegiate game.
As a team, the ’Roos rushed 64 times to gain 272 yards on the ground, and piled up 357 yards overall. With their strong ground attack Austin College dominated possession, running 25 more plays than SAGU and controlling the clock for 39:12.
Scooter Means led Austin College with eight tackles, while Jared Baker, Andy Stowe, Patrick Martell, and David Tibbets each had four. Baker and Jake Pritchard each had a sack, with Pritchard’s resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Peyton Woodyard.
Rice led the Lion offense with 10 carries for 75 yards and a score and also completed 6-of-14 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the Lions were held to just 161 yards of offense.
Joe Muse led all tacklers with 10 stops, including two for loss and a sack, while Shaunderrick Scott and Sean Haynes each made eight tackles. Derek Brewer had four tackles and an interception for SAGU.
Austin College is on the road next week when they head to Abilene to take on McMurry University, and then return home on September 15 to host defending Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference champion Millsaps College with kickoff set for 1:00 p.m.