Hardin-Simmons at Sul Ross State
6 p.m. | Oct. 17, 2015 | Shelton Stadium
Radio: 100.7 FM
Internet Broadcast: www.hsuathletics.com
Play-by-play: Al Pickett
Color Commentary: Chad Grubbs
Hardin-Simmons will open American Southwest Conference action on Saturday night in Alpine against Sul Ross State. It is the first time the two teams have played at night in Alpine. The game marks the end of a three-game road trip for the Cowboys. It will be the third conference game of the season for the Lobos.
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.
The Cowboys will return home for Homecoming next week against Howard Payne. The game is a 1:30 kickoff, rather than the normal 1 p.m. kick. The game starts a closing stretch with three of the last four games at Shelton Stadium for the Cowboys.
Hardin-Simmons jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and never looked back in a 31-13 win over crosstown rival McMurry to regain the Wilford Moore trophy that is given to the winner. Ryan Breton came in for an injured Weston Garner and completed 17-of-22 passes for 301 yards and ran for 40 more yards. Ryne Lewis had three sacks for the Cowboys in the game.
The Lobos come into the game with a record of 1-4, but that can be deceiving. The four losses are to Trinity, Texas Lutheran, Louisiana College and Mary Hardin-Baylor. They were competitive in all of the games - even last week at UMHB it was 20-14 late in the first half before the Cru rolled in the second half. The Lobos will be home after four straight games on the road. It is the start of a three-game homestand. The Lobos are allowing 510.8 yards per game and their games have been turnover filled. Sul Ross has turned the ball over 20 times and they have forced 19 turnovers. The Lobos have used three different quarterbacks and James Davis is slated to get the start this week. Byron Jones is a big-play threat at receiver with 696 yards and seven touchdowns. Tight end Steven Savedra has 21 catches and three touchdowns. Fernie Gonzalez leads the team with 40 tackles on the season.
The two teams played a defensive struggle last year in Abilene. HSU won 19-12 and had just 322 yards of offense in the game, which was the second-lowest total of the season. The Cowboys limited the Lobos to 165 yards in the contest and just 61 of that came through the air.
In The Polls
The Cowboys are ranked No. 13 in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll and are No. 15 in the D3football.com poll.
An HSU Win Would
• give them a win in the conference opener for the second straight season.
• give HSU its first 6-0 start to a season since 2005.
• give HSU its longest winning streak under head coach Jesse Burleson, at six games.
• make HSU 33-3 all-time against Sul Ross State and 13-2 in Alpine.
The Cowboys have always played by the next man up strategy when dealing with injuries and that was the case on Saturday when starter Weston Garner went down in the second quarter, Ryan Breton came on and went 17-of-22 for 301 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 40 more yards. Breton was named the ASC offensive player of the week for his performance. Breton had been playing a couple of series each game as a change-of-pace quarterback.
Ryne Lewis has recorded seven sacks in the last three games and at least two in each of those games. He was in on four sacks on Saturday, two solo and two halved. He has moved to 3.5 sacks away from Scott Forbes' long-standing HSU record of 24. He needs a half-sack to tie Reggie Robinson for second all-time. Korey Zavala had 1.5 sacks on Saturday and is also climbing the charts. He is tied with Undra Hendrix with 15.5 career sacks for sixth place all-time at HSU.
Reese Childress had another touchdown on Saturday and also had his best all-around game to date. He had 150 yards on five catches, including a 19-yard touchdown in the first quarter when he went over a defender for the catch. He has scored a touchdown in all five games and has six total touchdowns on the year.
Other Weapons Making Their Mark
Childress had a big game as we noted but Garrett Martin had his best game as a Cowboy with 75 yards on five catches, including his first career touchdown. Devonte' walker had his first career touchdown in the game and Jeremy Harris had 71 yards on two receptions.
Hawkins Hits Double Digits
Matthew Hawkins continued a trend of whoever is the halftime guest on the radio broadcast having a big impact on that particular game. Hawkins had 10 tackles in the game, becoming the first Cowboy this season to have 10 or more tackles in a game.
Just Kicking It
Nico Francino has been a big weapon for the Cowboys on special teams. the junior from Midland had a big all-around game on Saturday. He averaged 40.8 yards on four punts and three of them pinned the War Hawks inside the 15-yard line. He also hit a 27-yard field goal, was 4-for-4 on PATs and all six of his kickoffs reached the end zone with four of those being downed for touchbacks.
The Cowboys are 27-4 all-time under Jesse Burleson when leading at the half and 0-13 when either trailing or tied at the half. HSU is also 22-5 under Burleson when scoring first and 21-2 when they win the turnover battle. HSU has scored a touchdown in 225 straight games, dating back to a 1993 shutout to Westminster (Pa.) in a driving snow storm.
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.
• HSU leads the nation in completion percentage at 74 percent and efficiency rating at 204.83.
• The Cowboys lead the nation in blocked punts with three.
• The passing offense is ranked 10th nationally.
• HSU is ranked No. 18 in scoring defense allowing 12 points per game and 19th in scoring offense at 44.6 per game.
• HSU is seventh in net punting at 38.3 yards per kick.
• The Cowboys are sixth nationally with 4.4 sacks per game and 16th with 9.2 tackles for loss per game.
• HSU ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin at 2.0 per game.
• The Cowboys are one of 27 unbeaten teams, midway through the season.
• Weston Garner leads the nation in yards per pass attempt with 11.52. Ranks second nationally in completion percentage at 76.9 percent and passing efficiency at 201.9.
• Nico Francino ranks fourth in the nation in punting at 43.4.
• Jessie Ramos is third in receiving yards per game, eight in receptions and 16th in all-purpose yards.
• Ryne Lewis is ninth nationally with 1.4 sacks per game and 14th in tackles for loss at 2.1 per game.
• Reese Childress ranks seventh in yards per catch with 26.5.