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Texas Lutheran bounces back with 31-21 road victory over East Texas Baptist

Wade Freeman (photo by Joey Dearing)
Wade Freeman (photo by Joey Dearing)
MARSHALL, Texas -- After a last-second loss to Hendrix last week, the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs bounced back with a 31-21 road victory over East Texas Baptist in the American Southwest Conference opener for both teams.
 
TLU rushed for 273 yards on 60 carries, ran 77 plays, and held the ball for 36 minutes, 49 seconds.
 
The Bulldogs limited All-ASC quarterback Brian Baca to 162 yards passing and no touchdowns. Baca was picked off once.
 
Bulldog quarterback Wade Freeman threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another. The sophomore signal-caller completed 10 of his 14 passing attempts for 151 yards and had two TD passes to CJ Romero (43 and seven yards) and one TD strike to Mason Perkins (for 13 yards).

"It started Monday in film," said Freeman. "We talked about how their defense presses a lot on the receivers, and we wanted to come out and attack their corners, and tell them that they aren't better than us on the presses."
 
Freeman found Perkins four times for 76 yards, and Romero three times for 57 yards.
 
"Wade, every snap he gets he is growing with confidence," said Carl Gustafson, TLU's head coach. "Obviously, you see the talent. He can really make things happen with his feet. But he can throw the ball well too. He is really doing a good job. I am really proud of him. The supporting cast around him played solid as well. His receivers came up with some huge catches at big times."
 
Freeman rushed 12 times for 58 yards and had a long of 18, on the play that essentially sealed the win for TLU. The 18-yarder came on a 4th-and-13 from the ETBU 34 with 4:04 to play in the game.
 
The Bulldogs initially looked as if they were committed to a punt on fourth down, but the team called timeout. Freeman and the offense emerged from the timeout and took the field.
 
"During the timeout, (Offensive Coordinator Neal) La Hue was talking to our head coach," said Freeman. "Coach La Hue was talking all week about when it is fourth and long distance to get to the pylon, (ETBU) mans up and leaves nobody there for the quarterback. He just knew that I was going to be able to pick it up with my feet."
 
Freeman's rush took the ball down to the ETBU 16. TLU ran out the clock with five consecutive rushing plays from Ian Leslie that took the ball down to the ETBU 3.
 
TLU jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the fourth quarter and had four chances inside the 3-yard line to take a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter after a DaKwa Davis interception that took the ball down to the ETBU 3.
 
But the Bulldogs were stuffed on the next four plays, and ETBU reeled off two straight scores to tie the game at 14.
 
TLU started its next drive after ETBU's tying touchdown on the TLU 25 with 2:13 remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs marched 75 yards in six plays and took 1:58 off the clock to take a 21-14 lead into the half.
 
Freeman capped the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to Mason Perkins, who juggled and then caught the ball between two defenders.
 
"We preach through practice, through the weekend and when we are at the hotel, all we talk about is adversity," said Freeman. "We know we are going to face adversity, and how we are going to overcome it. Coach (Gustafson) talks about how are we going to respond to things, and he liked how we responded today."
 
The Bulldogs received 12 rushes for 80 yards from Chris Monroe, 22 rushes for 68 yards from Ian Leslie, and 67 yards on 14 carries from Austin Mathews.
 
A week after committing 14 penalties for 150 yards, TLU committed only three for 17.
 
"I couldn't be more proud of our team," said Gustafson. "The sting of last week, that can go one of two ways. You can crawl in a hole and feel sorry for yourself, or you can learn from it and respond. Obviously, I think our guys did that. It's not really a surprise. I'm really glad that we played well enough to win, but these young men handled it better than the coaches did, I tell you that. They showed up on Tuesday ready to go to work, and we got better, and they got the payday."
 
Davis led TLU in tackles for a second straight week. He had 13 total tackles for a second consecutive game. James Bell and Keyshawn Holman each collected eight tackles.
 
TLU defeated ETBU for a third straight time and for the ninth time in the last 11 meetings.
 
The Bulldogs return to Seguin for next Saturday's 6 p.m. home game with Southwestern University.