SHERMAN, Texas –The Austin College football team sprinted out to a 21-10 lead over visiting Southwestern Assemblies of God University, but the Lions used a big second half to hand the 'Roos a 37-28 loss on Saturday afternoon in the team's season opener.
The 'Roos came out strong on their first drive, marching 70 yards in just six plays thanks to a 20-yard run by Evan Powell and a 17-yard touchdown jaunt by Tim Crossly to make it 7-0 less than two minutes into the game. The Lions, ranked No. 22 in the nation at the NAIA level, struck back quickly, with CJ Collins completing two big passes to get SAGU down to the Austin College 10-yard line and Stephon Free taking it in from there to tie things up, capping off a nine play, 76 yard drive that took just 2:53 off the clock.
Southwestern Assemblies took a 10-7 lead with 3:41 left in the opening quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Tluang Hmung, but a pair of SAGU penalties aided the ensuing Austin College drive, and on fourth down and a little over a yard to go, Colt Collins took a quarterback keeper 21 yards to the house to put the 'Roos ahead 14-10 after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Collins found Powell for a 65-yard gain to get Austin College down to the SAGU 5-yard line, and Reggie Evans punched it in from there to give Austin College its largest lead of the game at 21-10 with 12:07 left in the first half. The Lions countered back with a touchdown at the six-minute mark, as Free found the end zone from eight yards out to make it a 21-17 Austin College advantage at the break.
Southwestern Assemblies put together an 11 play, 65 yard drive to open the second half and take a 24-21 lead after a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Gary Powell on fourth and goal, and that remained the score until just before the end of the quarter, when Collins scored his second rushing touchdown of the game from a yard out to put the 'Roos ahead 28-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
However, those would be the last points Austin College would score, as SAGU scored 13 unanswered in the final frame. Hmung knocked home a 34-yard field goal early in the quarter to pull the Lions within one, and a 44-yard field goal gave SAGU a 30-28 lead with 6:55 to play. On the next Austin College possession, Marco Mathews stepped in front of a pass by Collins and picked it off, returning it 60 yards for a touchdown to make it 37-28. The Lions would add one more interception to ice the game and hand the 'Roos the defeat.
Colt Collins led Austin College through the air and on the ground, completing 19-of-39 passes for 262 yards with a pair of picks, and 51 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns. Powell caught five passes for 101 yards and carried three times for 32 more yards, and Nathan McLane had 12 tackles to lead the 'Roos defensively. Jackson Townsend and Morris Shell each added 11 stops, and Hunter Mills had two sacks.
CJ Collins completed 22-of-33 passes for 244 yards with an interception for the Lions, and Michael Bledsoe rushed 17 times for 103 yards while Free carried 17 times for 77 yards and two scores. Sam Northey caught 11 passes for 126 yards to lead all receivers in both categories, while Torionte Williams had nine tackles to lead the Lions.
Austin College will be looking to bounce back as they head out on the road next weekend to take on Wayland Baptist.