Hardin-Simmons vs. Wayland Baptist
1 p.m. | Sept. 19, 2015 | Shelton Stadium
Radio: 100.7 FM
Internet Broadcast: www.hsuathletics.com
Play-by-play: Al Pickett
Color Commentary: Travis Jones
Hardin-Simmons will take on Wayland Baptist at 1 p.m. at Shelton Stadium, in a battle of West Texas Baptist schools. HSU won last season in Plainview 37-23. WBU is in its fourth season since bringing football back to their campus and have continually improved over the past three years. Both teams come into the contest with a record of 2-0.
On The Air
You can hear Saturday's game on 100.7 in Abilene and on the internet at www.hsuathletics.com. You can also listen on your mobile phone using the HSU Athletics app. Al Pickett will be in his 11th season in the Cowboys' play-by-play chair and 13th overall on the broadcast team. Former Cowboy quarterback Travis Jones will handle the color commentary.
HSU has its open week next before hitting the road to play at Trinity on Oct. 3 in San Antonio.
Last Time Out
The Cowboys won their first game against a ranked team on the road since 2004 with a thrilling 35-27 come-from-behind, last-minute, game-winning drive over then No. 18 Texas Lutheran. Weston Garner found freshman Reese Childress for the game winner with :25 to play capping an 11-play, 65-yard drive.
The Pioneers are in their fourth season since reinstating football and are 2-0 for the first time. WBU beat Howard Payne 44-34 last week in Brownwood. For the year WBU is averaging 43 points per contest and allowing 19.5 per outing. They have forced eight turnovers by their opponents in the first two games of the year. Quarterback Payson Bain has completed 50 percent of his passes for 550 yards and six touchdowns.
Nico Francino had a 39-yard field goal with 3:48 to play to give the Cowboys a 30-23 lead and then HSU forced a turnover on downs and scored two plays later on a Kerry Sloan run in a 37-23 win in Plainview. Ryne Lewis had a huge day with four sacks and also returned a fumble a school record 97 yards for a touchdown.
In The Polls
The Cowboys returned to the D3football.com national poll for the first time since week three of the 2011 season. HSU moved all the way to No. 21 this week. WBU is not ranked in the NAIA poll.
An HSU Win Would
• give the Cowboys a six game non-conference winning streak.
• move HSU to 4-0 all-time against WBU.
• make HSU 13-5 in non-conference games under Burleson.
• give HSU its first 3-0 start to a season since 2010.
Much has been made of the winning touchdown from Weston Garner and Reese Childress with good reason, but the entire drive showed the maturity a quarterback can gain with experience. Last season the Cowboys trailed TLU 21-14 in the fourth quarter and was driving for a game-tying drive and Garner, making his first career start, threw a pass that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown essentially ending the Cowboys' chances. This year he took the ball and methodically moved the Cowboys down the field. He hit his favorite target Jessie Ramos for a 16 yard gain on second-and-14. Ramos was banged up on the play and missed the rest of the drive making it even more impressive what happened. Garner then hit Garrett Martin for nine yards and Kerry Sloan rushed for 13 yards. After back-to-back short runs, one by Sloan and a scramble by Garner put the Cowboys in third-and-10, Sloan ran a delay for eight yards setting up fourth-and-two. Garner found Martin on the play in a tight window for a first down. Garner was hit late on the play as well putting the Cowboys at the TLU 9-yard line. With the Cowboys in field goal range, Sloan was stuffed on back-to-back runs to make it third down and after a timeout the Cowboys liked the look they received from TLU and Childress beat his man to the corner of the end zone and Garner threw a perfect ball for the score.
HSU leads the nation in passing efficiency. The Cowboys have a 252.6 rating. For the year the Cowboys have completed 37-of-49 passes for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns with just one interception. Weston Garner ranks fourth nationally in completion percentage at 78.4, he also is fifth in efficiency, seventh in yards per pass attempt and 23rd in touchdowns. Four of Ryan Breton's six passes have gone for touchdowns.
Give Me That Ball
The Cowboys put a strong emphasis on forcing turnovers and in the first two games have forced seven turnovers. HSU ranks 13th nationally in turnover margin with a +5. HSU also ranks sixth nationally with five interceptions.
Senior running back Kerry Sloan has run for over 100 yards in six straight games and eight of the last nine. He had 120 tough yards on 27 carries against Texas Lutheran.
Junior cornerback Conlan Aguirre and senior safety have both basically been starters since day one at their positions. They bring a lot of experience to the secondary. Around them is anything but experienced, especially now with three early season injuries. Stephen Salaz injured a knee on Saturday, Reggie Davis the starter at the other corner had a high ankle sprain late in camp and has yet to play and Jaelin Roberts was injured on the opening kickoff at TLU. Davis and Roberts were the only returners with any experience besides Aguirre. There were times on Saturday night the Cowboys had four newcomers on the field in the secondary and seven different freshmen or first-year transfers played. Jaelon Collier will take over Salaz spot at free safety and Kylon Mills a junior college transfer will take over at corner back. Logan Floyd is playing behind James Place, but had to play in a key spot when Place cramped up. Randall Vincent another freshman also played key snaps as did Christian Henderson and Zac Richardson at corner.
Senior Jessie Ramos is on the verge of breaking Collin McCormick's school record for all-purpose yards in a career. He needs just 64 all-purpose yards for the record. He passed Mychal Carrillo and Lance Moore last week to second place.
• Ramos also tied Brian Rogers, Mitch Ables and ZaVious Robbins with his 25th career receiving touchdown last week. He needs two to pass Joe Lemberg for third all-time.
• Ramos passed Robbins and Lemberg last week to move to seventh on the career reception list with 171.
• Ramos already owns the school and ASC record with 2,005 kickoff return yards.
• Ramos leads the nation in receiving yards with 376 and ranks fifth in all-purpose yards per game at 230.5.
Winning always brings more attention to a program and the Cowboys have been racking up the awards the first two weeks. Jessie Ramos was the offensive player of the week in the ASC after week one and Weston Garner and Korey Zavala were named the ASC offensive and defensive player of the week last week. The punt return unit was named to the D3football.com team of the week in week one and Zavala was named this past week. The final play was also nominated for the HERO national play of the week and the D3football.com play of the week. The HSU-TLU game was mentioned prominently by the D3football.com team in their weekly podcast and also Jessie Ramos was featured in an around the region column on D3football.com.