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Game Preview: Texas Lutheran at Hardin-Simmons - 6 p.m., Saturday in Abilene, Texas

Game Preview: Texas Lutheran at Hardin-Simmons - 6 p.m., Saturday in Abilene, Texas

Full Game Preview (pdf)

Bulldogs seek second win at HSU

The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs seek their second-ever win at Hardin-Simmons' Shelton Stadium on Parramore Field. TLU is 1-10 all-time at Shelton Stadium, with the only victory over the Cowboys coming in 2014. That victory propelled TLU to its only NCAA Division III playoff berth. The Bulldogs know that a win Saturday would go a long way to keeping their 2019 NCAA playoff hopes alive. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday in Abilene, Texas. Pre-game coverage on www.tlubulldogs.com and www.seguintoday.com begins at 5:30 p.m.

 

Texas Lutheran vs. Hardin-Simmons

(Hardin-Simmons leads series, 19-2)

1998 at Hardin-Simmons 83, TLU 6

1999 Hardin-Simmons 35, at TLU 26

2000 at Hardin-Simmons 42, TLU 14

2001 Hardin-Simmons 45, at TLU 7

2002 at Hardin-Simmons 56, TLU 7

2003 Hardin-Simmons 29, at TLU 12

2004 at Hardin-Simmons 59, TLU 29

2005 at TLU 32, Hardin-Simmons 27

2006 Hardin-Simmons 35, at TLU 7

2007 at Hardin-Simmons 63, TLU 34

2008 Hardin-Simmons 52, at TLU 6

2009 at Hardin-Simmons 38, TLU 22

2010 Hardin-Simmons 63, at TLU 17

2011 at Hardin-Simmons 67, TLU 17

2012 Hardin-Simmons 65, at TLU 58 (2OT)

2013 at Hardin-Simmons 73, TLU 44

2014 TLU 37, at Hardin-Simmons 14

2015 Hardin-Simmons 35, at TLU 27

2016 at Hardin-Simmons 48, TLU 38

2017 Hardin-Simmons 33, at TLU 30

2018 at Hardin-Simmons 58, TLU 14

 

First shutout for TLU since ... last year

While Texas Lutheran's shutout of Southwestern was the first shutout by either team in the nine games of the all-time series, the shutout was TLU's third of an opponent in the last two-plus seasons. Now in the third year of Defensive Coordinator Ricky Matt's 3-4 scheme, TLU has produced a 37-0 shutout Belhaven (Miss.) in 2017, a 23-0 shutout of Belhaven in 2018, and now the 27-0 shutout of Southwestern in 2019. Prior to the Carl Gustafson/Ricky Matt era, which began in 2017, the Bulldogs had only two previous defensive shutouts in TLU's non-scholarship/NCAA DIII era, which began in 1998. Of course, the 1974 NAIA-II National Championship team set the bar high for shutouts. That Bulldog defense put together six shutouts in that title-winning 1974 season and added two more shutouts in 1975, when the Bulldogs repeated as NAIA-II National Champions. Ricky Matt was a member of that 1975 national championship squad.

 

Bennett steps up in middle of TLU D-Line

Sophomore defensive tackle Brandon Bennett has been a force in the middle of the TLU defensive line. Bennett, a Harlingen, Texas native, has at least a half-tackle for loss in each of the first three contests, and he has collected a total of 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

 

Depth on defense pays dividends

Thirteen different Bulldogs have registered a tackle for loss so far in the 2019 season. Seven different Bulldogs have collected a sack. Each of the three forced fumbles have been forced by a different Bulldog, and each of the three interceptions have been made by a different TLU player. Six Bulldogs have at least one pass broken up. Seven Bulldogs have at least 15 total tackles thus far this year.

 

Six turnovers most forced since 2011

Texas Lutheran took advantage of six Southwestern turnovers last week in the 27-0 shutout of the Pirates. The Bulldogs collected four lost fumbles and two pass interceptions. The six turnovers were the most by a TLU opponent since Nov. 5, 2011, when TLU won 36-16 at Mississippi College. The Choctaws turned the ball over seven times that day in Clinton, Miss. TLU intercepted two passes and pounced on all five of the Choctaws' fumbles. Those seven turnovers by an opponent still stand as the TLU DIII-era record for turnovers by an opponent in a game.

 

 

Freeman continues good play at QB

Bulldog sophomore quarterback Wade Freeman made his third consecutive start at quarterback last week and continued his development into one of the top play-makers in the American Southwest Conference. Freeman rushed for a career-best 117 yards on a career-high 19 carries, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and pulling off a 50-yard run. He rushed for scores of 10 and 12 yards and directed scoring drives of 48 yards, 75 yards, and 60 yards. He was efficient in the passing game, completing six of 10 passes for 91 yards, with a long of 54. For the year, Freeman has thrown for 359 yards and completed 66.7 percent of his passes. He is the team's second-leading rusher, with 207 yards on 39 carries. Freeman leads the team in rushing TDs, with three.

 

Rushing still preferred way of travel

The Bulldogs didn't hit the 200-yard mark in team rushing last week against Southwestern, but TLU still carried the ball 48 times and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. And those totals included the final two plays when TLU took a knee in shotgun victory formation and lost 10 yards. It's no secret that TLU wants to run the ball, chew up clock, and keep the ball out of its opponents' hands. And that will be no different this week with the high-powered Hardin-Simmons offense as the unit TLU wants to keep on the sideline. The Bulldogs currently rank 14th in all of NCAA DIII in rushing yards per game, at 259.7, and are one of only 18 teams in all of NCAA DIII yet to throw an interception. TLU is 24th in turnover margin, at plus-1.67 per game.

 

Four backs with over 180 yards in 2019

Entering the fourth game of 2019, four Texas Lutheran backs (three running backs and one quarterback) have more than 180 rushing yards. Senior running back Austin Mathews leads the way with 210 rushing yards. He averages 5.1 yards per carry, and he has one touchdown. Quarterback Wade Freeman is second with 207 yards. He averages 5.3 yards per carry, and he has three rushing TDs. Chris Monroe has put up 205 yards, averages 5.7 yards per rush, and has scored twice. Ian Leslie has 181 yards rushing and a 4.4 yards per carry average. The only true negative stat these backs have so far in 2019 has been the number of fumbles. Between these four backs, they have eight fumbles. Fortunately, these players have lost only two of those eight fumbles. TLU has fumbled nine times overall and lost three. Bulldog opponents have fumbled six times and lost five.

 

 

Possession plays into TLU's game plan

The Bulldogs are 22nd nationally in time of possession per game, at an average of 34:01 per contest. (The national leader, Redlands (Calif.), averages 37:50 per game.) Last week against Southwestern, TLU lost the time of possession battle for the first time this year (31:06 to 28:54), but the Bulldogs still out-gained and out-rushed the Pirates. And of course, TLU was a plus-six in the turnover battle. The Bulldogs had held the ball for more than 36 minutes in each of their first two contests - a close home loss to Hendrix and a road win over East Texas Baptist.

 

TLU 14th in fumbles recovered

Texas Lutheran is tied for 14th nationally in total fumble recovered, with a total of five after three games. TLU recovered four of those fumbles in last week's win over Southwestern. Kedrick Ward, TLU's senior cornerback, recovered two of those fumbles and now ranks second nationally in the fumbles recovered category. Ward put TLU on the board first last Saturday with a 15-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. The defensive touchdown was the second touchdown of Ward's career. The first touchdown came last year in the road loss to Hardin-Simmons, when he returned an INT 36 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

 

Bulldogs average 8.7 TFL per game

TLU posted its season-best numbers for tackles for loss with 14 tackles for loss and 45 yards lost by Southwestern in last week's home victory. TLU has improved in the tackle for loss category in each of the first three weeks. The Bulldogs collected four for 16 in the loss to Hendrix, had eight for 28 in the road win over East Texas Baptist, and grabbed 14 for 45 in the home shutout of Southwestern.

 

Dunn receives defensive honors

Texas Lutheran senior linebacker Derek Dunn was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week after his performance Saturday in TLU's 27-0 win over Southwestern. Dunn, also the ASC Defensive Player of the Week, collected 11 total tackles, recorded two sacks for 18 yards and made five tackles for loss resulting in 24 total yards lost by the Pirates. The Pirates came into the game against TLU having rushed for more than 300 yards in each of their previous two games. TLU blanked the Pirates for the first time in nine all-time meetings. Southwestern came into the game averaging 48.5 ppg.

 

Longoria closes in on TFL mark

TLU senior defensive end Manny Longoria moved into second place on the Bulldogs' all-time tackles for loss list. With his three tackles for loss in the win over Southwestern, Longoria's career tackles for loss total went to 37.5, moving past Carlos Santiago and Andy Puryear. Santiago and Puryear each concluded their stellar careers with 37 tackles for loss. Longoria now sits seven tackles for loss from passing (6.5 TFL from tying) former Bulldog linebacker Darian Candler, who recorded 44 career tackles for loss for 158 yards in losses. Longoria's current career totals sit at 37.5 for 189 yards in losses. Longoria already is the TLU DIII-era career sack leader. He added to that total last week with a sack for five yards that brought his record mark to 19.5 sacks for 134 yards.

DaKwa Davis sidelined with injury

The Bulldog defense suffered a major blow in last week's win when starting junior linebacker and leading tackler DaKwa Davis went down with an injury. Davis has been ruled out for this week's game against Hardin-Simmons. Davis had a team-best 26 total tackles through two games this year, and he added three more (plus a half-sack and half-tackle for loss) against Southwestern. First-year player Garrison Ledbetter filled some of the void at linebacker last week and ended the Southwestern contest with eight total tackles and a half-tackle for loss. Davis's fellow junior linebacker Keyshawn Holman amassed 13 total tackles against the Pirates, and linebackers Derek Dunn and Adairius Norwood combined for 18 more stops. Dunn had 11.

 

Enriquez making plays in two phases

First-year defensive back Daniel Enriquez has been a difference-maker at strong safety so far this year. In the win last week, Enriquez picked off a pass and returned it 14 yards, broke up two other passes, and blocked a kick. He also registered six total tackles and had a tackle for loss. For the season so far, Enriquez has 14 total tackles, two tackles for loss, and the one interception. Enriquez also has handled TLU's punt return duties. Entering Saturday's road game with Hardin-Simmons, Enriquez has five punt returns for 24 yards, an average of 4.8 per return with a long of seven yards.

Nambo with first career interception

Sophomore cornerback Julian Nambo picked off his first collegiate pass this past Saturday against Southwestern. The Floresville, Texas native intercepted Landry Gilpin's second pass of the fourth quarter. The Pirates tried to hit a deep pass connection down the middle of the field, but Nambo played it perfectly and intercepted the ball at the TLU 5-yard line. He returned it four yards to the TLU nine.

 

Kevi Evans record game for HSU

In last week's 51-6 Cowboys win at Louisiana College, sophomore receiver Kevi Evans went off with nine catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns. He also set the school record for longest touchdown reception on a 96-yard play resulting in a touchdown. This brought Evans to 579 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches on the year. Evans' great performance last week led to him winning the ASC Offensive Player of the Week and to the D3football.com Team of the Week. Evans hurt the Bulldogs in last year's HSU win in Abilene. He scored on an 86-yard pass fro Ty Hooper and on an 89-yard kickoff return.

 

Jaquan Hemphill's comeback year

Jaquan Hemphill has started off the year strong, with 595 yards on 76 rushing attempts and four rushing touchdowns. He is the national leader in rushing yards. In the game against Howard Payne, Hemphill gained 198 yards on the ground with two rushing and a receiving touchdown to his name. He claimed Offensive Player of the Week for Week 3. Hemphill is also one of 30 finalists for 2019's Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year.

 

Brennan Wooten with 14 touchdowns

The Cowboys QB this year, Brennan Wooten, has been lighting up the scoreboard this season with 12 passing touchdowns and two more on the ground. With a 64.5 percent completion rate, Wooten has three receivers with more than 100 yards and has thrown a touchdown to five different targets. Though Kevi Evans is the primary target, Wooten is not afraid to spread the ball or use his feet for success.

 

Cowboys Offense averaging 48.5 ppg

An explosive Cowboys offense has been putting up big numbers to start the year. Outside of a 16-10 nail-biter victory against Trinity, the team has put up over 50 points in every other matchup. The Cowboys average 295.5 rushing yards per game and 274.5 passing yards per game.

 

HSU O-line's great protection

To start the year the Cowboy's O-lineman have given up only three sacks and two quarterback hits on 117 total attempts. With 13 rushing touchdowns on the year between seven different players, the Cowboys' line has been proven to clear a path to the endzone for anyone willing to find it.

 

 

Matt Girard leads linebackers

Girard is a sophomore standout leading a young linebacker trio that has combined for 53 total tackles. Fellow sophomore Terrell Franklin is second on the team with 17 tackles, followed by freshman Matt Mitchell, who is fourth on the team with 14 tackles. Though there have only been 3.5 tackles for loss between the three, this tackling trio can be expected to make most of the team's stops.

 

Cowboys' defense holds teams to 9 ppg

Over the first four games the Cowboys have had an opening shutout vs. Sul Ross and has since then only given up five touchdowns in total. The Cowboys also have limited opposing teams to only 202.2 yards per game, with a great run defense holding teams to 67.3 rushing yards per game. With 22 tackles for loss costing opposing teams 93 yards, the Cowboys will look disrupt the Bulldogs' rushing attack.

 

HSU red zone dominance

The Cowboys' defense has been dominant in the red zone due to the fact teams have only made it there five times in the first four games. Though the defense gives up red zone scores 80 percent of the time, the real struggle is to get to the red zone in the first place. With the Cowboys' defense being excellent on third down, stopping teams on 88 percent of their attempts, finding the red zone will be a struggle.

 

Cowboys' seven forced turnovers

Between the first four games, the Cowboys have taken the ball away four times by interception, with one returned for 40 yards by safety Dedrick Strambler. The Cowboys also have forced five fumbles, successfully recovering three of them. Safety Kelton McGee forced and recovered a fumble in the close game against Trinity.

 

Jeff McCutcheon leads HSU secondary

Senior cornerback Jeff McCutcheon is leading the secondary with 13 tackles and an interception between the first four games. McCutcheon also has been the Cowboys leading pass defender with two broken up passes and three passes defended. He is joined by a fellow senior, safety Blake Johnston, who is second in tackles among the secondary with 13 tackles and a pass break-up.

 

2-time special teams winner Pogue

Junior place-kicker Jamie Pogue started the season with back-to-back Special Teams Player of the Week honors - first for his 16-point performance against Sul Ross and then for a 10-point game against Trinity the following week. This year Pogue has only missed one of eight field goal attempts and one of 16 extra-point attempts. His longest field goal made this year is from 27 yards. Pogue is currently second on the team in scoring with 43 points, only trailing Kevi Evans.

 

Last Week - Texas Lutheran

Bulldogs 27, Southwestern 0

 

SEGUIN, Texas -- The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs dominated the Southwestern 27-0 Saturday night in Bulldog Stadium by forcing six turnovers and shutting out the Pirates for the first time in nine all-time meetings.

 

Southwestern came into the American Southwest Conference match-up averaging 48.5 points per game. But TLU's defense held the Pirates scoreless, recovered all four of Southwestern's fumbles, and intercepted a pair of Pirate passes.\

 

The Bulldogs improved to 2-1 overall and to 2-0 in the ASC. TLU snapped a four-game skid against the Pirates and shut out a squad that had scored 51 and 59 against TLU in the last two meetings.

 

Southwestern fell to 2-1 overall and to 1-1 in the ASC.

 

TLU senior cornerback Kedrick Ward (Missouri City/Elkins) started the TLU take-away party and the Bulldog scoring with a fumble recovery that he returned 15 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

 The Bulldogs turned the first two Southwestern fumbles into touchdowns. After Ward's fumble recovery, on an errant pitch on an option play, Bulldog defensive lineman Sam Guzman (Buda/Hays) forced a fumble in the second quarter that Ward recovered near midfield.

 

Set up at the Southwestern 48, TLU sophomore quarterback Wade Freeman (Richmond/Bush), directed a seven-play drive that ended with a 10-yard scamper by Freeman for the score. The extra point was blocked, and TLU took a 13-0 lead into the half.

 

In the third quarter, following Southwestern drives that included a lost fumble and a punt, the Bulldogs drove 75 yards in six plays to take a 20-0 lead. Freeman scored again, this time on a 12-yard run.

 

On the scoring drive, Freeman hit CJ Romero (Odem/Odem) for 50 yards on 3rd-and-2 from the TLU 33 to put the Bulldogs into the red zone. Freeman scored three plays later on 3rd-and-5 from the 12.

 

Freeman finished the night with a career-best 117 yards rushing on 19 carries with the two rushing touchdowns. He also completed six of his 10 passes for 91 yards and no interceptions.

 

TLU rushed 48 times for 196 yards and had three rushing touchdowns. Christopher Monroe (College Station/College Station) capped the TLU scoring night with a 16-yard run at the 12:39 mark of the fourth quarter.

 

 

Last Week - Hardin-Simmons

Cowboys 51, Louisiana College 6

 

Hardin-Simmons' seventh-ranked football went on the road and took care of business in recording-setting fashion with a 51-6 win at Louisiana College in Pineville, La. on Saturday afternoon.

 

Kevi Evans had a huge day for the Cowboys. He had nine catches for a school-record 269 yards and three touchdowns. He broke the previous record of Travis Tatsch.

 

Senior running back Jaquan Hemphill set the school record for rushing touchdowns with his 38th. He had 158 yards rushing in the game as well. Brennen Wooten was 20-for-29 for 374 yards and three touchdowns. 

 

The defense was dominating again as it allowed just 188 yards. The Cowboys rolled to 661 yards of offense.

 

Jamie Pogue put the Cowboys on the board in the first quarter with his seventh field goal of the year, a 21-yarder. After a quick forced punt, the Cowboys scored on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Wooten to Evans.

 

Another quick defensive stop put the offense back on the field and Wooten called his own number on a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 17-0 with 3:33 to play in the first quarter.

 

Wooten hit Evans on a pair of touchdown passes in the second quarter. The first was a school-record 96-yard touchdown.