Hardin-Simmons vs. McMurry
Noon | Oct. 10, 2015 | Wilford Moore StadiumRadio: 100.7 FM Internet Broadcast: www.hsuathletics.com Play-by-play: Al Pickett Color Commentary: Chad Grubbs
12/16 Hardin-Simmons Cowboys 4-0, 0-0 ASC Coach Jesse Burleson 26-17, fifth season
McMurry War Hawks
3-2, 0-0 ASC
Coach Lance Hinson
5-10, second season
Hardin-Simmons and McMurry will meet for the first time since 2011 in the Wilford Moore Trophy game at noon on Saturday at Wilford Moore Stadium at McMurry. The Cowboys own a 24-4 all-time record against McMurry, but the War Hawks won the last meeting 24-14 in 2011.
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. HSU director of athletic communications Chad Grubbs will handle the color commentary.
Hardin-Simmons will open conference play with a night game at Sul Ross State on Oct. 17 in Alpine. It will mark the first time the two teams have played at night in Alpine. The game will conclude a three-game stretch on the road and HSU will close the season with three of the last four games at Shelton Stadium.
Last Time Out
Hardin-Simmons jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and were never threatened in a 31-7 win at Trinity. The Cowboys held the Tigers to 253 yards of offense and the lone score of the game for Trinity came with :22 to play in the contest. McMurry won 34-14 at Division II Lincoln on Saturday in Jefferson City, Mo.
The War Hawks are off to a 3-2 start and with a couple of breaks they could easily be 5-0. The only common opponent for the two teams is Southwestern. HSU beat the Pirates 77-6 in the season opener and McMurry lost to the Pirates 7-6 the next week in Abilene. McMurry relies on a strong defense that is allowing just 217.8 yards per game over the first five contests. The War Hawks are only allowing 121 yards per game through the air and have 11 interceptions. Offensively, the War Hawks are led by talented running back Paxton Grayer. He has 654 yards in just three and a half games. He missed last week's contest with an injury after going down midway through the Langston game with an injury. Matthew McHugh is the quarterback and he has thrown for 1,155 yards and nine touchdowns and completes 55.8 percent of his passes. Charles Aguga is the top receiver with 22 catches for 438 yards, but five different players have double figure receptions on the season. Ryan Williams paces the defense with 39 tackles and he has four interceptions on the year.
The teams have not met since 2011. On that day, the Cowboys were limited to 305 yards and turned the ball over five times. Zach Stewart went 14-of-29 with three interceptions and Steven Rockwell ran for 134 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys are ranked No. 12 in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll and are No. 16 in the D3football.com poll. The No. 12 ranking is the highest the Cowboys have been in either poll since 2008.
• give the Cowboys an eight game non-conference winning streak.
• move HSU to 25-4 all-time against McMurry.
• make HSU 15-5 in non-conference games under Burleson.
• give HSU its first 5-0 start to a season since 2005.
• tie the longest winning streak under head coach Jesse Burleson. HSU also won five straight games last season.
Senior safety James Place has moved into the top 10 on the HSU tackles charts with 208. He passed Anthony Renfro, Jonathan Petty and Corbett Boone on Saturday. He also has been a turnover forcing machine. He has two interceptions and has recovered a fumble this season and for his career he has five interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
The Cowboys have made a habit of getting into the backfield all season long. They are averaging four sacks per contest and have recorded 39 tackles for loss. Ryne Lewis continues to climb the HSU career record list for sacks. He had two against Trinity and has four for the season. He is now tied with two of the Cowboys' all-time greats Jake Freeman and Hank Hornsby for third all-time with 17.5 sacks in his career. He needs 6.5 sacks to tie Scott Forbes' school record of 24. Korey Zavala also moved into the top 10 in career sacks as he now has 14, which ties him with Link Harris for ninth all-time.
The Cowboy defense has been stellar the first four weeks of the season. Three of the four opponents have scored just one touchdown and those all came in the fourth quarter against reserves. The Cowboy starting unit has allowed only 21 points this season and those were all against nationally-ranked Texas Lutheran. For the year, the Cowboys have allowed just 21 points in the first three quarters of games this season. HSU has outscored opponents 121-14 in the first half and 169-21 through three quarters.
Freshman wide receiver Reese Childress has shown the ability to get the ball in the end zone for the Cowboys with five touchdowns in the first four games of the year. He has four touchdowns on six receptions and on Saturday he lined up as the Cowboy formation quarterback and ran 29 yards for a touchdown.
Garner Still Efficient Despite Tigers Assault
Weston Garner took a pounding from the Trinity defense on Saturday as he was sacked five times and the all-out blitz concept the Tigers used put him under pressure the entire game. Through it all he completed 20-of-25 passes for 196 yards and also ran for his second touchdown of the season. The most important thing is the Cowboys did not turn the ball over on Saturday and he has just two interceptions on the year and has completed 77.5 percent of his passes. Incidentally, the Cowboys allowed six sacks on the day, which is the most the Cowboys have given up in the Jesse Burleson era as an offensive line coach. Burleson started coaching the Cowboys' offensive line in the 2006 season.
The Cowboy defense has done a good job of forcing turnovers all season. HSU has a plus-nine turnover margin for the season and the defense has forced at least two turnovers in every game. HSU is 9-0 in the Burleson era when they don't commit a turnover and are 20-2 when they win the turnover battle in a game. HSU ranks fourth nationally in turnover margin.
The Cowboys show up all over the NCAA stats this week both individually and as a team. Here is the top 20 rankings for the team nationally.
• The Cowboys lead the nation in blocked punts with three.
• HSU leads the nation in passing efficiency rating are No. 18 on passing offense and No. 15 in scoring offense.
• The Cowboys rank 10th in tackles for loss and 11th in sacks.
• HSU ranks No. 21 in the nation in scoring defense.
• Last but not least, the Cowboys are tied in winning percentage as they are one of just 35 teams that is still unbeaten on the season.
• Jessie Ramos leads the nation in receiving yards (693) and is sixth in receptions (9.3 pg), eight in all-purpose yards (195) and 15th in receiving touchdowns (6).
• Weston Garner leads the nation in yards per pass attempts (11.49), is third in passing efficiency (202.0) and is second in completion percentage (77.5).
• Nico Francino ranks third in punting at 44.1 yards per kick.
• Cory Ward and Korey Zavala rank 24th with three forced fumbles.