Nov. 21, 2009
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjack football team won at least a share of its first Southland Conference Championship since 1999 with their 19-10 victory over Northwestern State Saturday in soggy Turpin Stadium. The victory also guarantees SFA the league's automatic berth in the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
Along with the victory, junior quarterback Jeremy Moses completed 34-of-47 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns, and became the school's career leader in passing yards (8,767). Senior receiver Duane Brooks set a new SFA single-game record with 15 receptions.
"This is a great feeling," said SFA head coach J.C. Harper. "To come from 0-11 two years ago to where we are today is unbelievable. Our seniors have been tremendous this season. They have done a great job of getting our team ready to play every week. Our guys fought hard and we're winners. I'm really proud of my coaching staff as well.
The Demons came right after SFA in the opening quarter taking the ball down the field on a nine-play, 71-yard drive that ended in a William Griffin three-yard touchdown run. SFA responded by connecting on a 29-yard field goal from Evan Engwall less than four minutes later. The Lumberjack defense forced a punt on the ensuing possession and SFA capitalized. Moses guided SFA on a 6-play, 80-yard drive that ended with 31-yard pass to Gralyn Crawford. The drive consumed less than two minutes off the clock, but gave SFA its first and only lead of the half. The Demons closed out the scoring with a field goal to tie the game with 11:06 remaining in the half.
"You have to take your hat off to Northwestern State," said Harper. "Coach Peveto had his kids ready to play. We knew that was going to be the case coming into the game. He is a great coach, and he and his staff always do a great job of preparing his team.
Both teams were hurt by miscues in the opening half. The two teams combined for 13 penalties, while SFA threw an interception and had a drive deep into Demon territory nullified by a snap that sailed over Moses' head. SFA had the ball 1st-and-Goal from the Demons' three, but the snap followed by a delay of game penalty forced SFA to attempt a long field goal that was blocked.
SFA started off the second half by reclaiming the lead after an Engwall 33-yard field goal on the `Jacks first possession of the game. That would be all the scoring until 14:01 remaining in the game. Following Josh Aubrey's first career interception, SFA went for the knockout punch on the very next play. Moses found freshman Cordell Roberson from 57-yards out to give SFA a nine-point lead, 19-10, and it would prove to be the difference.
The Lumberjack defense was able to keep the Demons off the scoreboard in the final 30 minutes. Northwestern State attempted a field goal in the final minute of the game to try keep an upset bid alive, but the kick was blocked and the celebration began.
SFA racked up 410 yards of total offense, including 77 on the ground, while the Demons finished the game with 365. Sophomore Romonte Hampton led SFA with 11 carries for 55 yards. Along with Brooks' 15-catch performance, Roberson had a career day finishing with 7 receptions for 128 yards and a score. Classmate Gralyn Crawford finished the game with four receptions for 71 yards.
The Lumberjacks will learn their playoff fate Sunday during the NCAA FCS Playoff selection show on ESPNews. The show is slated to begin at 2 p.m. SFA will be hosting a watch party at the theater in the Baker Pattillo Student Center.