`Jacks Rally to Win SLC Opener
Oct. 8, 2005
NACOGDOCHES - Despite trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter and surrendering 327 rushing yards, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks battled back to defeat Nicholls State, 27-21, in overtime Saturday afternoon. The `Jacks are now 4-1 (.800) overall and 1-0 in Southland Conference play, while the Colonels fall to 1-3, 0-1 on the season.
The `Jacks took the first lead of the game when senior quarterback Zeke Dixon led the `Jacks on a 12-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in a 25-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Louie Runnels at the 7:40 mark of the first quarter. That would be all the scoring the game would see for the next two quarters, as SFA went into halftime with the seven-point advantage.
NSU took all of the momentum from the home team to open the second half. After stopping the Lumberjacks on downs, NSU mounted its longest drive of the season, moving the ball 98 yards on 10 plays and using up 4:31 off the clock. The Colonels' Broderick Cole capped the drive with a 45-yard run with 7:14 remaining in the third. Cole added a second touchdown four seconds into fourth quarter to put Nicholls State up, 21-7. The Colonels recorded 236 of their 327 rushing yards in the second half.
The Lumberjack offense didn't go away quietly coming right back out and answering the NSU touchdown with one of its own just over two minutes later. Dixon hit sophomore Chance Dennis for a 37-yard scoring strike at the 12:30 mark to pull within seven, 21-14. Dennis finished the game with nine catches for 92 yards.
After forcing a punt, SFA got the ball back on its own 44-yard line with 1:37 remaining. Dixon guided the `Jacks on a seven-play, 56-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Williams with only 32 seconds remaining. After kicker Cory Long nailed the extra point to tie the game, NSU ran out the clock to force the `Jacks into their first overtime game of the season.
After holding on defense, Nicholls State was unable to convert on its field goal attempt. Junior tailback Jerome Brooks then stepped into the spotlight for SFA carrying the ball 23 yards down to the NSU 2 on the team's first play in overtime. Two plays later, Brooks punched the ball over the goal line for the score and the victory. Brooks finished the game seven carries for 37 yards.
Runnels was the `Jacks leading ground gainer, carrying the ball 23 times for 82 yards. Dixon finished the game 20-of-37 for 217 yards and three touchdown passes. The Lumberjack defense was led by senior Ryan Luedecke who recorded a career-high 22 tackles.
The `Jacks return to action Saturday Oct. 15, when they will play McNeese State in Houston, Texas, at Galena Park ISD Stadium. The game is tentatively set kick off at 2 p.m.