SHERMAN, Texas – The Austin College football team raced out to a big lead early and held off a comeback bid by Howard Payne on Saturday, coming away with a 19-17 win at Jerry Apple Stadium. The 'Roos are now 1-1 on the year.
The 'Roo offense was clicking early, going 62 yards in nine plays with Cooper Woodyard hitting on completions of 17, 14, and 15 yards on the drive. Austin College would settle for a 37-yard field goal by Cesar Ruiz to take a 3-0 lead just over four minutes into the game. The lead would quickly increase, however, as a fumbled kickoff by Howard Payne gave the ball right back to the 'Roos at the 18-yard line.
After a 15 yard run by Tre Jones to get the 'Roos inside the five, Elijah Moore followed up with a four yard touchdown run. The point after attempt missed, as Austin College took a 9-0 lead with 10:14 left in the opening quarter. Austin College would add one more field goal in the first, as Ruiz knocked home an 18-yard attempt to make it a 12-0 game after one.
Howard Payne would get on the board early in the second quarter, putting together a 14 play drive that went 44 yards before stalling at the Austin College 21-yard line. Jason Disney's field goal from 38 yards had just enough leg, hitting the crossbar and bouncing over to make it a 12-3 game with 10:46 left before halftime.
On the ensuing drive for Austin College, the 'Roos started off quickly with a 23 yard completion from Woodyard to Tom Clancy, and a few plays later a 23 yard run from Kane Norman got the 'Roos down to the 10-yard line. Moore would add his second rushing score of the day a few plays later, plowing in from a yard out to make it a 19-3 game with 2:22 on the clock after the extra point.
In the second half, Howard Payne used a strong rushing attack and a solid defensive effort to start chipping away at the 'Roo lead, as Austin College managed just 12 yards of offense in the third quarter. HPU quarterback Caisson Montieth led an 11 play, 67-yard drive that featured 11 straight rushing attempts and culminated in a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Montieth to cut it to a 19-10 game with 4:56 on the clock in the third. All 93 of Howard Payne's yards in the third quarter came on the ground.
The Jackets would pull to within two midway through the fourth, when Montieth connected with Derrick Williams for a 52-yard touchdown pass to make it 19-17. However, the 'Roo defense came up big on the final drive of the game for HPU, forcing a three and out to get the ball back, and Woodyard hit Clancy for a key 11-yard completion with just over a minute left to seal the win.
After a tough third quarter offensively, Austin College bounced back with 114 yards in the fourth, finishing with 362 yards of total offense in the game. Howard Payne finished with 297 yards of offense.
Woodyard completed 20-of-31 passes for 232 yards with an interception, and Jones led the way on the ground with 57 yards on 10 carries. Norman added 49 rushing yards, and Moore had five carries for 10 yards with two touchdowns. Brennan Ellis had six catches for 91 yards and Clancy finished with six grabs for 71 yards. Charles Eneh led a stout defensive effort, making 12 tackles, while James Hemen added 10 stops.
Montieth finished the game completing 14-of-26 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception and added 70 rushing yards on 11 carries with another score. Justin Acosta led the Jackets with 73 rushing yards on 16 attempts, while Disney had nine tackles and recovered a fumble for the HPU defense.
Austin College is back in action next Saturday when they host Whittier College at Apple Stadium for a 12:00 p.m. kickoff. Last season, the 'Roos cruised to a 55-12 victory over Whittier on the road in California.