'Jacks Host Leathernecks
Sept. 20, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team returns to Nacogdoches looking for its first victory of season, after a heartbreaking loss at No. 4 North Dakota State. The shorthanded `Jacks battled the fourth-ranked Bison tough, but came up short, 28-19. SFA faces No. 19 Western Illinois, who enters the game with a 2-1 (.667) overall record. The Leathernecks enter Saturday's game coming off a 69-0 thumping of St. Francis (Ill.), where they recorded 619 yards of total offense.
Saturday's matchup against Western Illinois will mark the second time SFA and Western Illinois have met on the gridiron. The Lumberjacks recorded a 63-36 victory over the Leathernecks on Parents' Weekend during the 2005 season.
The last time these two programs hooked up, SFA jumped out to a 19-0 lead, and pushed it to 32-14 by halftime. Senior quarterback Zeke Dixon was near perfect completing 15-of-24 passes (.625) for 363 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Louie Runnels carried the ball 16 times for 70 yards, and Damian Perkins recorded 65 yards on 11 carries as SFA outscored the Leathernecks, 31-22 in the second half. The Lumberjacks racked up 663 yards of total offense, including 195 on the ground, while holding their opponents to 319 total, and only 41 rushing yards.
Western Illinois marks the second consecutive opponent for SFA that has been ranked in the Sports Network top 25 poll. The 'Jacks are 16-20 (.444) against teams ranked in the FCS top 25 since the 1995 season.
Saturday's game will pit a Western Illinois starting offensive line that averages 6-4, 296 pounds, against a young Lumberjack starting defensive line that averages 6-2, 266 pounds. The Lumberjacks' offensive line enters the game averaging 6-4, 298 pounds. The Leathernecks defensive line averages 6-2, 272 pounds.
J.C. Harper became the 18th head coach of the SFA Lumberjack football team in December of 2006. Harper spent the past two seasons as the 'Jacks' defensive coordinator, turning the SFA defense into one of the top units in the conference. He is currently 0-2 in his first season as head coach. Western Illinois head coach Don Patterson is 57-38 (.600) in his ninth season with the Leathernecks. Patterson enters the 2007 season looking to rebuild the Leatherneck program back to dominance after three consecutive losing campaigns. Patterson guided WIU to a Gateway Conference title during his second season in Macomb, Ill. WIU followed that up with a co-conference title two seasons later. Patterson has also led the Leathernecks to three NCAA Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) playoffs (2000, 2002-03). Patterson has taken WIU into the second round of the playoffs on two separate occasions (2002 and 2003). He is 2-3 (.400) all-time in postseason play. WIU enters Saturday's game with a 2-1 (.667) overall record.