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Big Third Quarter Propels 'Roo Football Past Occidental

MRJ Photography
MRJ Photography

After trailing 12-7 early in the third quarter, the Austin College football team used an 83-yard touchdown run from Madison Ross and a pair of third quarter interceptions to swing the momentum and earn a 21-12 victory over visiting Occidental College on Saturday afternoon. The 'Roos piled up 288 rushing yards to improve to 1-2 overall this season.

Both teams struggled to get on the board early, with both offenses moving the ball but unable to convert their solid yardage into points, and it wasn't until 2:40 left in the opening quarter that the Tigers finally got on the board with a 20 yard field goal by Max Gruber to make it 3-0 after one.

Ross got the 'Roos down the field in a hurry on the ensuing possession, carrying three times for 48 yards on the team's first three plays, and after three runs from Bryce Murphy and a six yard keeper from Noah Jesko, Ross went over the pile from a yard out to put Austin College on top 7-3 with 14:06 left in the second quarter.

Occidental regained the lead midway through the second quarter as Kwame Do broke a 61 yard run deep into Austin College territory, and four plays later found the endzone from three yards out to make it a 9-7 game after a missed point after attempt by Gruber.

The Tigers were looking to add to their lead just before halftime, but Austin College managed to block Gruber's 24 yard field goal attempt and Colter Headrick returned it 51 yards as time expired in the first half, but a personal foul on Occidental gave Austin College one more shot at the endzone. However, Jesko's Hail Mary toward Kyle Crawford was batted around and intercepted in the endzone to send the 'Roos into the locker room trailing 9-7.

Occidental used an eight play, 48 yard drive culminating in a 22 yard field goal by Gruber to open the second half and take a 12-7 lead with 11:19 on the clock, but with just under four and a half minutes left in the third, Ross broke through the left side of the line and raced 83 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to make it 14-12.

On the next Occidental possession, the relentless defensive pressure forced a Thomas Stivers throw into coverage and Jeremy Halford picked it off, returning the interception 18 yards down to the Tiger 13 yard line and Murphy scampered in from 12 yards out to make it a 21-12 game.

Shane Hodge added an interception of his own on the very first play of the ensuing possession for Occidental, and after a missed field goal by Austin College gave the Tigers a bit of life midway through the fourth, just as the Tigers were driving Scott Loy made a diving interception deep in 'Roo territory and Austin College would run 13 plays, gaining 51 yards to run out the rest of the clock and earn the victory.

Ross finished the game with 187 yards and two scores on 21 carries, and Murphy added 89 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Jesko completed 9-of-17 passes for 107 yards and a pick, and Crawford made five catches for 61 yards to lead the 'Roos offensively. Jantzen Foster made nine tackles and Brooks Ward added eight, including 2.0 for loss to pace the defense.

Do finished with 153 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown to lead Occidental and Stivers finished the game completing 18-of-27 passes for 193 yards and two picks, while Samuel Crizer made nine catches for 103 yards. Teran Mawhinney had nine tackles to lead the Tigers defensively.

Austin College will be looking to make it two in a row when they host Howard Payne University next Saturday with kickoff set for 1:00 p.m. at Apple Stadium.