The Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team makes its home debut at noon Saturday against Ottawa University at Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium.
The Lions look to rebound after falling on the road to No. 13 Langston University last Saturday, 35-20. SAGU also fell to 0-12 all-time against the Langston Lions.
Otta also lost to Langston earlier this season in a high-scoring affair Sept. 8, 63-56.
SAGU is 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Sooner Athletic Conference, while Langston enters with a 2-2 season mark and a 1-2 record in conference play.
Saturday marks the first-ever matchup between the Lions and Spirit.
ABOUT THE SPIRIT
The Spirit have experimented with two quarterbacks but have handed the ball to Austin McCullough, who appears to be settling into his steady role in the offense.
McCullough — a 6-foot-2, 170-pound sophomore from Ridgecrest, CA —has 10 touchdowns in three games with just shy of 1,000 yards passing.
He has completed 61.5 percent of his passes and averages over 300 yards per game.
Ottawa has also used a two-headed approach to the backfield, with running backs Shamar Moreland and Marcelous Chester-Riley spliting carries.
Moreland has 232 yards on the ground and four touchdowns (53.8 yards per game), while Chester-Riley has put together over 200 yards and three touchdowns on the season.
Wide receiver Brandon McLaughlin has at least one touchdown in each of the Spirits four games. McLaughlin has 341 receiving yards and six touchdowns on the season.
The Spirit defense is led by Division-1 transfer Kenneth Steele Jr., who has 30 tackles on the season — 13 of those for loss, including 8.5 sacks and one safety.
ABOUT THE LIONS
The SAGU defense is fresh off a game that saw the Lions hold Langston, one of the more prolific offenses in the nation, to a scoreless first half. They will need to do more of the same Saturday.
To do so, the Lions will continue to lean on leading tacklers Marco Mathews and Tori Williams, who both should cross the 30-tackle plateau on the season this weekend. Christian Cross will also look to haul in his fourth interception on the season.
Senior quarterback CJ Collins tossed for 351 yards and three touchdowns last week, with Dotson, Northey, and Carr combining for 25 receptions for 325 yards and three touchdowns.
LAST TIME OUT
There will be a day when the Southwestern Assemblies of God University football will walk off of the gridiron as winners against Langston University.
Though Saturday was not that day against No. 13 Langston after a 35-20 road loss, SAGU head football coach Ryan Smith said his Lions should hold their heads high and build on the positives.
“I felt like we played really hard nose tough football and put ourselves in a great position to win a big-time football game," Smith said. "Proud of our guys. Seems like when things get harder we really pull together and I expect no difference moving forward.”
Langston is now 12-0 all-time against SAGU in a series that dates back to 2004.
The SAGU defense did not allow Langston to score the 1st half, which might not happen the rest of the season, as the opposing Lions entered with a top-five offense in the nation in most statistical categories.
The good-guy Lions took the lead with 9:30 left in the first half when CJ Collins found Bryant Dotson for a 5-yard touchdown. The pitch-and-catch was the lone score of the first half for either team, as SAGU carried the 6-0 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Langston offense got the ball to start the second half and scored seven plays later when Jaylen Lowe found Daylon Person for a long score. The extra-point attempt was good for a 7-6 Langston lead.
SAGU got the ball back and promptly regained the lead when Collins tossed his second touchdown of the day and first to Samuel Northey on a 75-yard completion. This time, SAGU converted on its extra-point attempt for a 13-7 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter.
It was then that Langston's offense took over, scoring three touchdowns in about 10 minutes on two rushing scores and one more through the air. When it was all said and done, Langston led 28-13 with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Collins was efficient through the air for SAGU, completing 30-of-his-47 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Bryant Dotson, Samuel Northey, and Jeremy Carr all had seven or more catches on the day and each scored one touchdown.
Marco Mathews and Keandre Belcher led the defense with Mathews posting nine tackles that included one for a loss, while Belcher had six tackles and two for a loss.
SAGU had 371 total yards of offensive yards and 20 first downs.
SAGU hosts Texas College at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.
Four out of the next five games for SAGU are in Waxahachie, as the Lions will look to gain ground in the SAC standings.