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TLU Football Preview for Game 10: Bulldogs at Southwestern (1 p.m., Sat.)

TLU Football Preview for Game 10: Bulldogs at Southwestern (1 p.m., Sat.)

Full Game Preview • Live VideoLive Stats • KWED 1580 AM
Kickoff 1 p.m. • Saturday, Nov. 10
Birkelbach Field (Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex) • Georgetown, Texas


Final game of 2018 for Bulldogs, Pirates
Saturday's road contest against Southwestern will be the final collegiate contest for 13 Texas Lutheran seniors. The Bulldogs and Pirates face-off this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Birkelbach Field in Georgetown, Texas. The 13 seniors for TLU are: offensive lineman Christopher Bennett, running back Kaleb Campbell, linebacker Emory Cuzze, offensive lineman Andy Day, tight end Thomas Gaither, wide receiver D'Andre Gallagher, quarterback Kyle Grona, linebacker Jacob Guercia, defensive back/kicker Brandon Hopp, wide receiver Reggie Jackson, wide receiver Pearce Loth, running back Austin Mathews, and offensive lineman Eduardo Sanchez III. The 13 Bulldogs were honored last Saturday in Senior Day festivities at Bulldog Stadium. The majority of the 13 seniors have been a part of the TLU Football program for all four years. Together, the seniors have produced a four-year record of 23-16 entering the game versus Southwestern.
 
Bulldogs in search of 8th win of 2018
A win Saturday in Georgetown would give Texas Lutheran its eighth win of 2018 and would secure a 14-6 record through two seasons for Head Coach Carl Gustafson. A victory over Southwestern would give TLU its eighth eight-win season all-time. TLU last won at least eight games in 2015, when the Bulldogs went 8-2 and just missed out on an NCAA DIII at-large berth. Gustafson's 14 wins in his first 20 games at TLU would tie former coach Dan Knight (1976-80) with the best record through 20 games as head coach.
 
TLU can equal some program marks
The Bulldogs can tie their program record for conference victories in a season with a win at Southwestern. The record is seven conference wins, which TLU has just twice - when the team went 7-2 in conference play in the American Southwest Conference. The Bulldogs can also equal their best American Southwest Conference finish. The Bulldogs were third in 2004 and third in 2017. TLU won Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In each of those conference championship runs, the Bulldogs had just three conference contests.
 
Cuzze to play in 40th consecutive game
Senior linebacker Emory Cuzze is scheduled to line up and play his 40th consecutive game as a Bulldog. When he plays a down against Southwestern, Cuzze will be one of the few TLU football players to appear in all 40 games. Cuzze has never missed a game as a Bulldog, and he has started the last 30 contests.
 
Cuzze moving up tackle list in D3 era
After his team-leading nine total tackles last week, Emory Cuzze moved within nine total tackles of sixth place on the TLU D3-era tackles list. Cuzze has 224 career tackles. Former Bulldog Jake Robbins ended his career with 233 total stops.
 
Eighth all-time meeting between TLU, Southwestern
Former Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference rivals Texas Lutheran and Southwestern meet for eighth time in school history. The series dates back to 1940 when Southwestern took a 27-9 win over the Bulldogs. The series was dormant for 73 years before the two met again in 2013, the first year of Southwestern's re-start of their football program. TLU won the first three meetings as SCAC members en route to SCAC Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Southwestern has held the advantage in recent meetings, winning the last three. The two teams met twice in 2016 as the four SCAC football teams played each other twice. Southwestern won the SCAC title in 2016. In last season's first game as a member of the American Southwest Conference, the Pirates collected a 51-33 win and tied TLU and ETBU for third place in the conference standings.
 
Game-By-Game
Texas Lutheran v. Southwestern
(Southwestern leads series, 4-3)

1940 Southwestern 27, Texas Lutheran 9
2013 Texas Lutheran 44, Southwestern 14
2014 Texas Lutheran 41, Southwestern 14
2015 Texas Lutheran 58, Southwestern 3
2016 Southwestern 42, Texas Lutheran 38
2016 Southwestern 35, Texas Lutheran 31
2017 Southwestern 51, Texas Lutheran 33
 
Bulldogs 2-1 all-time at Birkelbach Field
The Bulldogs will play their fourth game against Southwestern University at Birkelbach Field. The Bulldogs dropped their last game at Birkelbach - a 42-38 back-and-forth affair in the first game of a home-and-home schedule in 2016. TLU won convincingly in the first two match-ups - in 2013 and 2015 - in Georgetown.
 
D3football.com, ASC honors for Mathews
Texas Lutheran running back Austin Mathews collected D3football.com Team of the Week and American Southwest Conference Player of the Week awards after his record-setting performance Saturday in the Senior Day victory over Sul Ross State. Mathews became the third Bulldog this season to grab a Team of the Week honor. In TLU's 63-20 win over Sul Ross, Mathews rushed for a school-record five touchdowns and added a career-best 225 rushing yards as the Bulldogs won their seventh game of 2018. Mathews eclipsed the Bulldogs' single-game rushing touchdown mark with a five-yard run in the third quarter.
 
Mathews moves past teammate, four others
Mathews moved past five Bulldogs (David Wehmeyer, Mike Cantu, Kenny Gransberry, Marquis Barrolle, and current quarterback Kyle Grona) that shared the previous mark of four rushing touchdowns for a game. Grona tied the old mark last season in a road win over East Texas Baptist. Against Sul Ross State, Mathews scored four first-half touchdowns with runs of three, one, one, and 10 yards and added the record-breaker in the third quarter. Mathews, a junior in football athletic eligibility but a senior on track to graduate in May, joined 12 other Bulldogs in playing in his final home game. Mathews started his TLU Athletics career in 2015 as a member of TLU Men's Soccer. Mathews has spent the last three seasons as a member of the TLU Football program.
 
Mathews closing in on 1,000 yards
Austin Mathews now has 899 rushing yards on 164 carries in 2018, leaving him just 101 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season. A 1,000-yard season for Mathews would be quite the achievement, especially for a back that began the year as the team's third rushing option. Mathews has been pressed into a heavy workload after injuries to starters Ian Leslie and Chris Monroe. He has scored 13 rushing touchdowns and has four 100-yard rushing games in his last four contests, including consecutive 200-yard contests. He has 775 rushing yards in his last five games and 438 yards in his last two games. Mathews now ranks second in the ASC in rushing yards per game (99.9) and 43rd nationally in the same category. In terms of total rushing yards, Mathews is also second in the league and 37th nationally.
 
Ocampo with a chance at perfection
TLU's first-year place-kicker Juan Ocampo has put together a masterful beginning season of his collegiate football career. The Lockhart native remains perfect on the year in field goal attempts (8-for-8) and on PATs (40-for-40). In the TLU D3-era, which dates back to 1998, Ocampo would be the first Bulldog to go an entire season without a miss. Ocampo leads the ASC in field goals per game  and ranks 29th nationally in the category (0.89 per game). Ocampo is also eighth in the conference in scoring among all players (non-kicking players included) and ranks 116th nationally.
 
Grona finds endzone for second time in '18
After leading the team in rushing touchdowns (10), total touchdowns (10) and scoring (60) a year ago, Bulldog senior quarterback Kyle Grona found the endzone for just the second time in 2018 with a four-yard scoring run last week against Sul Ross State. He scored the game's first touchdown. Grona carried the ball a team-high 136 times in 2017 and gained 544 yards. With an early-season injury, TLU's coaches wanting to keep Grona as injury-free as possible, and with the emergence of Austin Mathews, Grona's production in the running game has dropped to 44 carries, 54 net yards, and two rushing TDs. But with only Saturday's game remaining, and the Southwestern Pirates likely keying on Mathews' every move, look for Grona to make a few plays of his own in the running game in Georgetown.
 
TLU receivers producing as well
While the TLU rushing attack as garnered the majority of the headlines in recent weeks, the Bulldog receivers have combined for six receiving TDs in the last two games. Against Howard Payne, CJ Romero had two TDs, and Charles Robinson and Pearce Loth also collected scoring grabs. Last week against Sul Ross State, D'Andre Gallagher and Loth broke into the scoring column. Robinson has 20 catches for 357 yards  and a touchdown in his last two games. Loth has three receiving TDs in his last four games, and Romero has 222 receiving yards and two touchdowns over his last three games. As a unit, TLU receivers average 11.3 yards per catch and 203.9 yards per game. The Bulldogs have 13 receiving TDs. Those 13 receiving touchdowns are spread among only TLU's top four receivers - Robinson, Romero, Loth, and Gallagher. Mathews is the only other receiver with double-digit catches (14).
 
Bulldogs again receive votes in AFCA poll
For the third time this season, TLU has received votes in the latest American Football Coaches Association poll for NCAA Division III. The Bulldogs picked up five more votes in this week's poll, now with seven overall, and joined No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor and No. 8 Hardin-Simmons as conference members mentioned in the poll. TLU received two votes in AFCA poll after the Oct. 13 home win over East Texas Baptist and two votes again after the Oct. 27 win against Howard Payne.
 
TLU receives first votes in D3football.com poll
For the first time in 2018, the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs received votes in the D3football.com Top 25 poll. TLU picked up two votes in the poll and would be ranked 37th if the poll went to a Top 40. UMHB is No. 2 in the same poll, and Hardin-Simmons is up to No. 7. Losses to UMHB and HSU are the only two blemishes on the Bulldogs' record this year.
 
TLU with 16 team rankings in Top 50
The Bulldogs have national Top 50 team rankings in the following categories: total defense (42nd, 222.1 ypg allowed), rushing defense (20th, 73.0 ypg allowed), turnover margin (36th, +0.78), team sacks (41st, 3.0 per game), turnovers gained (16th, 24), fumbles recovered (2nd, 16.0), first downs offense (38th, 204), first down defense (23rd, 123), third down percentage defense (20th, .282), fourth down percentage defense (20th, .273), time of possession (33rd, 1946 minutes), winning percentage (38th, .778), blocked kicks allowed (1st, 0), blocked punts (26th, 2), blocked punts allowed (1st, 0), and defensive TDs (8th, 4). TLU is three defensive TDs from UMHB's national lead in the category.
 
Another defensive touchdown for TLU
Texas Lutheran junior linebacker Derek Dunn scored the fourth defensive touchdown of the season for the Bulldogs when he took a fumble return back 35 yards for a touchdown against Sul Ross State. Dunn joined James Bell (55-yard interception return), Kedrick Ward (36-yard interception return) and Manny Longoria (41-yard fumble return) with turnovers returned for touchdowns this season. The four turnovers resulting in returns for touchdowns are tied for the most in TLU's DIII-era (dating back to 1998). The last time TLU had four defensive touchdowns in a season was 2013 when Adam McGuire (interception return), Ty Johnson (interception return), Drake Dowling (fumble return), and Jonathan Olonade (fumble return) each had a defensive touchdown. The Bulldogs also had four defensive touchdowns in 2011. In 2018, TLU ranks eighth in the nation in defensive touchdowns and second in total fumble recoveries (16).
 
Bulldogs will try to slow down Hover
Southwestern junior quarterback Frederick Hover will be the focus of much of TLU's defensive strategies on Saturday. Hover ranks 22nd in the nation in scoring, with his 10.0 points per game, and he is ninth in all of NCAA DIII in rushing TDs, with 15. Hover is second in the ASC in rushing TDs. He has carried the ball 205 times for 808 yards. Hover also has thrown 12 touchdowns (against six interceptions) and has 1,464 yards passing. He is third in the league in total offense, at 252.4 per contest.
 
Bulldogs, Pirates pretty evenly matched
Texas Lutheran and Southwestern are fourth and fifth, respectively in the American Southwest Conference in scoring offense. TLU averages 35.6 per game, and the Pirates average 32.3. For scoring defense, the Bulldogs and Pirates are third and fourth, respectively. TLU gives up 23.3 per game, and Southwestern allows 28.8. In total offense, Southwestern (430.2) is fourth, and TLU (427.8) is fifth. In total defense, TLU is second (312.0), and Southwestern is fourth (357.0). Southwestern and TLU are third and fourth, respectively, in rushing offense (244.4 to 223.9) and third and second, respectively, in rushing defense (93.9 to 73.0). Southwestern leads the ASC in time of possession (32:57 per game), and TLU is second (32:39 per contest).
 
Big plays for Brandenburg, Henderson
Southwestern slot receivers Davis Brandenburg and Markell Henderson each have touchdowns runs over more than 86 yards. Brandenburg scored last week against Howard Payne on a run of 91 yards. The touchdown right before Brandenburg's was an 86-yard run by Henderson. Henderson ended the HPU game with six rushes for 121 yards, and Brandenburg had three rushes for 88. Brandenburg also catch two passes for 39 yards. Southwestern threw the ball just 18 times last week in Brownwood.
 
Robinson, Brockman, Smith key Southwestern 'D'
The top three tacklers for Southwestern are: junior safety Aron Robinson (71 total tackles), sophomore linebacker Ben Brockman (63), and junior linebacker Hayden Smith (59). Robinson has an interception, a forced fumble, and 4.0 tackles for loss. Brockman has 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Smith leads the team in tackles for loss, with 9.5 for 65. He has two fumble recoveries and four sacks for 46 yards.