'Jacks Fall in Season Opener
Sept. 1, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - For the second consecutive season the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team dropped its home opener to an NCAA Division II opponent, falling to Tarleton State, 27-24. Texan kicker Stephen Arnold drilled a 37-yard field goal in overtime to hand TSU its second-straight victory to start the season, while the 'Jacks open the year 0-1.
"I'm proud of our guys," said J.C. Harper. "They fought hard, and had a lot of grit tonight. Tarleton (State) came in and had that extra game under their belt and I think that made a huge difference. We had far too many mistakes and just ultimately lost to a better football team tonight. We have to get rid of our mistakes to get to where we want to be. We'll do that. All we know is hard work."
Adding injury to insult, the Lumberjacks had to go the majority of the game without services of preseason all-conference running back Louie Runnels who went down in the first quarter with an injury. Making matters more severe for the 'Jacks, backup running back Vincent Pervis left the game in the second quarter with an injury and did not return.
Despite the loss of its first and second-team running backs, SFA controlled the ground game carrying the ball 28 times for 129 yards in the first half. Preseason all-conference quarterback Danny Southall picked up the slack carrying the ball 11 times for 30 in the opening half, and completing 13-of-16 passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. SFA rallied from an early 7-0 deficit to take a 17-7 lead into halftime.
The 'Jacks seemed to heading into the locker room with all the momentum, but it was Tarleton State that came out on fire scoring 17 unanswered points in the second half to build a seven-point advantage, 24-17, late in the fourth quarter.
TSU quarterback Scott Grantham completed 16-of-21 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Texans' attack. Roderick Smith was elusive out of the TSU backfield avoiding tacklers, and finishing the game with 109 yards on 23 carries.
Despite being down seven with only 3:25 remaining, Southall and company mounted one final charge. Southall guided the 'Jacks on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a nine-yard TD run by Southall. After a Cory Long added the extra point to tie the game, it was up to the SFA defense. SFA held on defense after Arnold missed a 47-yard field goal to guarantee overtime.
TSU won the coin toss and elected to play defense first, and it was a decision that would pay off. The 'Jacks fumbled the ball on their opening drive of the extra period, and the Texans went for the field goal on fourth down to ice the victory.
The 'Jacks finished the night with 435 yards of total offense, including 251 yards on the ground. Southall completed 18-of-30 passes on the night for 184 yards, and one touchdown, while rushing for 113 yards and another score. Southall's favorite target was junior Dominique Edison, who hauled in seven passes for 90 yards. Sophomore Cory Barlow led the SFA defense with 12 stops on the night. He was also credited with a fumble forced, and fumble recovery.
The Lumberjacks return to action Saturday, Sept. 8, when they travel to Fargo, N.D., to take on the No. 4 (Sports Network FCS Top-25 poll) North Dakota State Bison. The game against the Bison is slated to begin at 6:35 p.m., and will be televised on Fox Sports North.