SFA Football Prepares for Western Illinois
Sept. 15, 2005
NACOGDOCHES - LEATHERNECKS HEAD TO NACOGDOCHES: The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team looks to get back to its winning ways Saturday when it returns to the friendly confines of Homer Bryce Stadium to face Western Illinois of the Gateway Conference. The 'Jacks enter Saturday's contest 1-1 after dropping their first road game of the season to Montana State, 42-6. The Leathernecks come to Nacogdoches with an identical 1-1 record after holding on to defeat Northern Colorado, 28-23.
SFA vs. THE LEATHERNECKS: When the Lumberjacks square off against Western Illinois Saturday in Homer Bryce Stadium, it will mark the first meeting on the gridiron between the two schools. The Leathernecks are trying to rebound from a 4-7 (.364) campaign last season that saw them go 2-5 (.286) and finish tied for fifth in the Gateway Conference.
THE OPPONENT: Western Illinois enters Saturday's game against SFA looking for its second consecutive victory. The Leathernecks are 1-1 (.500) overall and are ranked just out of the Sports Network Top 25 poll. After opening the season with a dissapointing 62-14 loss at Toledo, the Leathernecks rebounded this past week to defeat Northern Colorado, 28-23. WIU jumped out to a 21-point lead and held off a late Bear rally by intercepting a pass in the end zone with only 1:08 remaining in the game.
Vs. THE GATEWAY CONFERENCE: The Lumberjacks are 4-5 (.444) against the Gateway Conference over the course of the past 10 seasons. The 'Jacks have recorded two wins against Northern Iowa, including a 24-21 decision over the Panthers last season in Cedar Falls, and one each against Youngstown State and Indiana State. Saturday's game will be only the fourth time the Lumberjacks have faced a Gateway Conference school in Nacogdoches during that 10-year stretch. It will also mark the first meeting between Western Illinois and the 'Jacks.
THE COACHES: Robert McFarland became the 17th head coach of the SFA Lumberjack football team in December of 2004. After five seasons at the NCAA Division I-A level, McFarland returns to the school where he was an assistant coach for nine seasons, helping SFA become one of the most dominant rushing teams in the country. During McFarland's time at SFA, he helped orchestrate an offensive attack that produced league rushing titles in 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999. He also helped guide the 'Jacks to NCAA playoff appearances in 1993 and 1995. McFarland is currently 1-1 on the season. Western Illinois' head coach Don Patterson is in his seventh season in Macomb, Ill. During that time he has compiled a 46-26 (.639) overall record with the Leathernecks. The 2004 season was the Leathernecks' first sub-.500 season under Patterson, and only their third since 1991. Patterson has led Western Illinois to four winning seasons (WIU was 5-5 in 2001) and three NCAA Division I-AA playoff berths in his six seasons with Western Illinois. Patterson led his troops to an 11-win season in 2002, which tied a school record for wins in a season and marked only the third time that a Western Illinois football team won 11 games.