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TLU Football Preview for Game 8 - TLU vs. Belhaven (Miss.) - 1 p.m. Saturday - Bulldog Stadium

Sam Guzman (50). Photo by Mark Mainez.
Sam Guzman (50). Photo by Mark Mainez.

Full Game Preview (pdf)Live Video/Live Stats link

Audio-only link (KWED 1580 AM)

 

TLU vs. Belhaven (Miss.) all-time

(Texas Lutheran leads series, 2-0)

2017 TLU 37, Belhaven (Miss.) 0

2018 TLU 23, Belhaven (Miss.) 0

 

Texas Lutheran v. Belhaven for third time

Texas Lutheran University and Belhaven University, out of Jackson, Miss., meet for the third time in their respective football histories this Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff at TLU's Bulldog Stadium (Frank L. Dunne Field). Since rejoining the American Southwest Conference in 2017, the Bulldogs have faced Belhaven in a pair of conference clashes. TLU has won both games and has yet to allow Belhaven a point on the scoreboard.

 

Blazers' second trip to Bulldog Stadium

Saturday's game will be the Blazers' second visit to Bulldog Stadium. Their last time to Seguin - on Sept. 16, 2017 - featured one of the more bizarre plays in college football history. At the end of the first half, TLU place-kicker Tyler Hopkins had a field goal attempt blocked, only to have the ball bounce at Hopkins feet and Hopkins kick it through the uprights. After moments of consultation, the officials counted the field goal. It turns out the field goal should not have counted, but that didn't stop social media from going crazy with the video. In 48 hours, a video of Hopkins' re-kick had been watched on social media via platforms such as ESPN, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated a combined 2.5 million times.

 

Three Bulldogs nationally ranked in ypc

The Bulldogs rushing attack has been superb this year, and it doesn't matter who is carrying the ball. Austin Mathews is ranked 53rd in the nation with 5.74 yards per carry, and Wade Freeman comes in just above Mathews, at 46th in the nation at 5.85 yards per attempt. Chris Monroe leads the team in yards per carry and is ranked 34th nationally with 6.1 yards per rush. All three are ranked in the top five in the American Southwest Conference in that rushing yards per carry category. Monroe leads the team in total rushing yards, with 476, and Freeman is second on the squad with 456. Mathews has 425 yards, and Ian Leslie has 343 yards. All four backs average just over 49 yards total per game. The Bulldogs as a team average 268.4 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry.

 

Bulldogs continue turnover mastery

The Texas Lutheran - Sul Ross State game featured an interception from TLU senior cornerback Kedrick Ward and a fumble forced by junior defensive end Jackson Worley. That fumble was recovered by Brandon Bennett. With these two turnovers, the Bulldogs are now ranked seventh in the nation in total turnovers, with 21. Washington & Jefferson leads all of NCAA Division III with 25 turnovers gained. The Bulldogs also rank first in the conference in turnovers gained, turnovers lost (only five), and turnover margin (+16).

 

Leslie finds the endzone twice v. SRSU

Senior running back Ian Leslie tied his career-high for rushing TDs in a game, two, when he scored twice last Saturday against Sul Ross State. Leslie scored on a pair of 1-yard runs. His first touchdown run, at the 8:37 mark of the second quarter, gave the Bulldogs a 28-0 lead. Leslie's second TD rush put the Bulldogs up 35-0 with 6:17 to play in the third quarter. For the season, Leslie has three rushing touchdowns. For his career, Leslie has scored eight rushing TDs.

 

First career TDs for Moreno, Sotelo

Bulldog sophomore receiver Joseph Moreno and freshman tight end Aaron Sotelo were the first two Bulldogs to score last Saturday against Sul Ross State. The touchdowns were the first career scores for the two Bulldogs. Sotelo put the Bulldogs on the board with a 21-yard reception on a pass from Wade Freeman. Moreno gave TLU a 14-0 lead with a 26-yard catch, also on a pass from Freeman.

 

Wade Freeman's ball security

Sophomore quarterback Wade Freeman is still one of the top quarterbacks in the nation in terms of completion percentage and efficiency rating. But most impressively, he has committed zero turnovers this year. Freeman is one of three quarterbacks (with enough attempts to qualify) that has yet to throw an interception. Freeman has attempted 119 passes and completed 79 without throwing a pick. He is completing 66.4 percent of his passes, and he has thrown for 944 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Zero sacks allowed against Sul Ross

Wade Freeman's ability to scramble and escape plus solid offensive line play led to the Bulldogs not giving up a sack last Saturday against Sul Ross State. Though the Bulldogs have given up 10 sacks total this season, they have allowed only three sacks in the past four games. Out of 247 ranked teams in NCAA Division III, the Bulldogs are 63rd in sacks allowed, at 1.43 per game. TLU is No. 1 in the American Southwest Conference in sacks allowed per game. Mary Hardin-Baylor is second, at 1.57.

 

Bulldogs hold Sul Ross to 14 rushing yards

Sul Ross State came into last week's matchup with Texas Lutheran with designs of running the ball effectively. The Lobos were ranked 133rd in the nation in total rushing, and they had running back Williton Grear, who was ranked 27th nationally in individual rushing per game, at 107.2. TLU shut down the Lobos' rushing attack, holding Sul Ross to 14 total yards rushing and holding Grear to 23 yards on seven carries. Sul Ross dropped to 161st nationally in rushing, and Grear dropped to 43rd nationally in individual rushing. TLU rose 34 spots in rushing yards allowed per game, from 125th to 91st. The Bulldogs also jumped from 84th in total defense up to 70th. TLU allows just 319.1 yards of total offense to opponents per game. On the ground, TLU allows just 124.0 per game.

 

Bulldogs are a quarterback's nightmare

Coming into the week, the Texas Lutheran defense averages 2.2 interceptions for every passing touchdown given up. The Bulldogs also are averaging 3.3 sacks per game and limiting teams to 195 yards passing per game. Daniel Enriquez and Kedrick Ward share the team lead in interceptions, with three, and Jackson Worley is the team leader in sacks, with 5.5. Derek Dunn and Manny Longoria each have four sacks.

 

Moving the chains

The Bulldogs are ranked 30th in the nation and 2nd in conference when it comes to moving the chains - making first downs. This year TLU has racked up 163 first downs, only 19 behind Hardin-Simmons for first in conference. TLU has 94 first downs via the rush, which is tied for 12th in NCAA DIII.

 

TLU Defense getting into the backfield

The Bulldogs are currently ranked 27th in the nation with 8.3 tackles for loss per game. Those numbers are padded by the Bulldogs sack totals. The Bulldogs are ranked 22nd in the nation in sacks per game. On the flip side, TLU has kept opponents out of the backfield, coming in 60th in the nation for tackles for loss allowed. The Bulldogs allow only 5.29 tackles for loss per game.

 

Bulldogs continue to pick off passes

Kedrick Ward made his third overall interception of the 2019 season, and it came for the second time this year in the TLU endzone, thwarting an opponents' scoring drive. Ward is now tied with Daniel Enriquez for the team lead in interceptions, with three. As a team, the Bulldogs are 26th nationally in total interceptions, with 11. They lead the American Southwest Conference by two interceptions over Sul Ross State.

 

CJ Romero third in SCAC for receiving TDS

TLU senior receiver CJ Romero has been consistently finding his way into the endzone. Although he didn't score in last week's win over Sul Ross State, Romero still leads the team in receiving TDS, with six. He also has the Bulldogs' long reception of the year, a catch that went for 53 yards. Romero has 20 catches for 296 yards to go with those six touchdown receptions.

 

TJ Hersey leads Blazers' secondary

Freshman defensive back TJ Hersey has been the leading pass defender for the Blazers this season. He has 10 passes broken up and 11 passes defended. He also has one interception and 27 tackles on the year.

 

David Lewis atop tackles list for BU

With 54 tackles so far this season, the senior linebacker David Lewis is leading his team with 54 total tackles - 17 more tackles than the next man behind him. Lewis also has 4.5 tackles for loss totaling 19 yards as well as 1.5 sacks for a losses of 12.

 

Carlton Brown getting into the backfield

Freshman defensive end Carlton Brown has made himself a presence in opposing backfields with seven of his 24 tackles this year going for losses, resulting in 23 yards lost. Brown also has two sacks on the year that have moved teams back a total of 12 yards.

 

Locke 8th in the nation for forced fumbles

Three of the Blazers' eight forced fumbles have come from the hands of the sophomore defensive-back Locke. Of the eight fumbles forced by the Blazers, three have been forced by cornerback Phazion Locke. The Blazers have recovered sixth of the eight fumbles they have forced.

 

Blazers' red zone defense 2nd in the ASC

Only letting teams score on 64 percent of red zone trips, the Blazers are one of the best in the ASC when pinned deep in their own territory. The Blazers also have limited teams to scoring touchdowns on only 50 percent of their red zone trips.

 

Blazers' ball security is second in conference

Amongst ASC teams Belhaven is second in turnovers lost - second only to TLU. The Blazers have lost the ball nine times this year, only four more times than TLU.

 

Blazers' have 6 receivers with 100-plus yards

The Blazers have yet to find a solid receiving core to stick with so far and that has led to a large cast of contributors. Their number one receiver is LaMarcus Caradine, who leads the team with 21 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Caradine also leads the team in yards per game, with 47.6. Running back Brad Foley and tight end Tyrus Black each have a pair of touchdown receptions. Foley has caught 19 passes for 187 yards, and Black has eight catches for 174 yards. Black leads the team in yards per catch, at 21.75.

 

Blazers are 17th in nation for punt returns

With 15.29 yards per punt return, the Blazers are among the nation's best and lead the ASC in the category. Fabien Williams took one punt return back 70 yards. Kolbe Blunt has handled the six other punt returns, and he averages 6.17 per return, with a long of 12.

 

Foley leads the Blazers' running backs

With six touchdowns on just 81 rushing attempts, Brad Foley has been the focus of the Blazers' running game. Foley leads the team with 381 yards and has a season-long run of 57 yards (against East Texas Baptist). Foley scored a pair of touchdowns (one receiving, one rushing) in the win over McMurry. He also had two rushing touchdowns in a loss to Southwestern. Foley rushed for 153 yards on 18 carries in the loss to ETBU.

 

Hunter McEachern takes care of the ball

Though Belhaven quarterback Hunter McEachern isn't near the top of NCAA statistical category, he has been careful with the ball. He has thrown only two interceptions this year. The Blazers rank 25 nationally in interceptions thrown, with three. McEachern has thrown six touchdowns this season and is averaging 201.2 yards per game. He completes 55 percent of his passes. McEachern is 107-for-194 for 1,209 yards. He has a long completion of 65 yards, a touchdown pass to LaMarcus Caradine in the closing seconds of a home loss to Southwestern. McEachern also has rushed 43 times for 149 yards. 

 

Last Game - Belhaven - Oct. 19 in Abilene

Hardin-Simmons 63, Belhaven 7

 

After a home loss to Texas Lutheran, Hardin-Simmons' football team got back on track with a dominating 63-7 win over Belhaven on Homecoming at Shelton Stadium.

 

The Cowboys improved to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play and setup a battle at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Belton. Belhaven dropped to 1-6 overall and to 1-6 in the ASC.

 

Kyle Jones was sharp in his first start as a Cowboy as he completed 17-of-20 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns. The Cowboys wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as the defense forced a punt on Belhaven's opening possession, and HSU went 59 yards in six plays for the score. Marc Reed finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

 

The defense forced another punt and the Cowboys scored in two plays as Jones hit Kevi Evans on a 45-yard touchdown pass. After another punt by Belhaven, Jones hit Jaquan Hemphill on a screen pass and he took it 72 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-0 with 12:44 to play in the first half.

 

After the teams traded punts, the Cowboys scored for the final time of the half when Jones hit Gatlin Martin on a fourth-down pass from 22 yards out to make it 35-0 at halftime.

 

Belhaven missed on a field goal on its first drive of the second half and HSU answered with a 54-yard pass from Jones to Hemphill to make it 42-0. The defense forced another three-and-out and Bryson Hammonds, who had missed most of the last four games, returned to action and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run as HSU led 49-0 after three quarters.

 

The Blazers scored its lone touchdown after a Cowboy fumble set up a short field and Hunter McEachern found Brooks Brumer on a 1-yard TD pass.

 

Last Game - TLU - Oct. 26 in Alpine

Texas Lutheran 35, Sul Ross State 6

 

The Texas Lutheran Bulldogs rolled to a 35-6 victory Saturday night over Sul Ross State that moved the Bulldogs to 6-0 in the American Southwest Conference.

 TLU (6-1 overall) won its sixth straight overall in 2019 and collected its sixth consecutive win over the Lobos, who dropped to 3-4 overall and to 3-3 in the ASC. The series between TLU and Sul Ross is now tied at 18-18. The Bulldogs have won 10 of the last 12 against Sul Ross.

 

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead by scoring 14 in the first quarter and 14 in the second.

 

TLU sophomore quarterback Wade Freeman threw first-quarter touchdown passes to Aaron Sotelo and Joseph Moreno and rushed for 16-yard score in the second quarter. The touchdowns for Sotelo and Moreno were their first touchdowns at the college level. Sotelo is a freshman tight end, and Moreno is a sophomore receiver.

 

Ian Leslie put TLU up by four touchdowns with a 1-yard run at the 8:37 mark of the second quarter. Leslie added another 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

 

The Bulldogs had scoring drives on its five touchdowns of seven plays for 60 yards, seven plays for 58 yards, seven plays for 66 yards, five plays for 41 yards, and 10 plays for 79 yards.

 

"The great thing about a long road trip is that you have a long time to get focused," said Carl Gustafson, TLU's head football coach. "Our guys were extremely focused. They wanted to redeem themselves a bit, and not just win but play well again."

 

TLU rushed for 285 yards on 49 carries and held Sul Ross to 14 yards rushing. The Bulldogs were 6-of-10 on third down and held the ball for 32 minutes, 19 seconds.