Stephen F. Austin State University football team defeated the Gorillas 26-7 on Sat. 14 inside Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches, Texas. The Lumberjacks rode an impressive edge in time of possession and a strong running game to the home victory.
“We were (going to) have to play our best football game to beat that football team and I’m disappointed that we didn’t play our best football game and came out on the losing side,” said head coach Brian Wright.
60 yards and 15 plays were all it took for the Lumberjacks to open the game with a 32-yard field goal from kicker Chris Campos. Also, during the initial period, with two fourth down plays converted, quarterback Trae Self added a two-yard touchdown run with six seconds remaining on the first quarter.
Pitt State answered back with an eight play, 91-yard drive counting with 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mak Sexton to wide receiver Christian Carter trimming the margin to 10-7 with 11:31 remaining in the second Quarter. The Lumberjacks answered the Gorillas back with another Campos Field goal to lead 13-7 at the half. The Gorillas had a chance to trim the margin with 1:15 to play in the half, but Jaden Snyder’s 45-yard field goal attempt hit the crossbar.
SFA held the ball for 21 minutes of the first half compared to nine minutes for Pittsburg State, a margin that would remain throughout the game and end at a total of 23:44 for the Gorillas and 36 minutes for the Lumberjacks.
The Lumberjack defense buckled down on Pittsburg State in the second half, holding the gorillas off the board thanks to a pair of interceptions and two turnovers on downs. After a Pitt State fumble on the first play of the third quarter gave the ball back to the Lumberjacks at the Gorillas 35-yard line, three plays later, the Lumberjacks gained separation after quarterback Trae Self tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Xavier Gipson to extend their margin to 20-7.
“You can’t turn the ball over three times against a good football team and expect to win,” Wright said.
The Lumberjacks tacks on a touchdown catch by Xavier Gipson in the third quarter and another touchdown by Remi Simmons in the fourth to open up a 26-7 lead. SFA closed out the scoring with 10-play, 76-yard drive that consummate with a 17-yard pass by Self to Remi Simmons with 13:50 remaining in the game.
Mak Sexton ended the game with 21 of 34 complete passes for a total of 199 yards. Wide receiver Jalen Martin caught seven passes for a game-high of 118 yards. Running back Tyler Adkins carried the ball 11 times for 74 yards. The Gorillas finished the game with 346 yards, only 44 yards short from SFA.
Linebacker Morgan Salemaea was again the highlight player in the Gorillas defense leading the team with eight tackles.
“Our guys played hard and gave a lot of effort and fought until the end of the, so I was proud of that,” Wright said. “We have long ways to go as a program and a lot of improvement that we need to make so we can win football games like that.”
SFA forced three crucial turnovers and held Pitt State on downs four times in the contes, including three times inside the Lumberjacks 30-yard line.
While the Gorillas slipped to 1-2 on their 2020 season, the FCS Lumberjacks improve to 6-3 with the victory. The Gorillas will end their season next Saturday (Nov. 21) with an away game at Canyon, Texas to face NCAA Division II member, West Texas A&M University.