Hardin-Simmons at East Texas Baptist
2 p.m. | Nov. 7, 2015 | Orenalas Stadium
Radio: 100.7 FM
Internet Broadcast: www.hsuathletics.com
Play-by-play: Al Pickett
Color Commentary: Chad Grubbs
For the second straight week, the Cowboys will play a team that is undefeated and tied with them at the top of the American Southwest Conference standings. East Texas Baptist comes into the game at 6-2 overall and 3-0 in ASC play. HSU is 8-0 overall and 3-0 in league play. The winner of the game will clinch at least a share of the ASC title.
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. Chad Grubbs will handle the color commentary.
The Cowboys will close out the regular season with a game at home against Louisiana College at 1 p.m. It will be the final home game for the Cowboys' 21 seniors. With a win this week, the game will also be for the outright American Southwest Conference title.
Last Time Out
Hardin-Simmons broke a 13-game losing streak to rival Mary Hardin-Baylor with a 29-26 win over the second-ranked Cru. Jessie Ramos scored on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Breton with 3:12 to play and the defense then came up with two sacks in a stop of the Cru's last drive.
About East Texas Baptist
The Tigers secured a winning season for the first time since 2005 with a win last week at Sul Ross State. The Tigers are 3-0 in conference play. They close the season with games against HSU and Mary Hardin-Baylor. The Tigers have one of the top offenses in the country, averaging 491.1 yards per game and 44.1 points per contest. Quarterback Josh Warbington has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,848 yards and 16 touchdowns. His favorite target is Tyler Bates who has 52 catches for 1,040 yards and 11 touchdowns. Running back Kendall Roberson is the leading rusher in the conference with 1,347 yards and he has scored 19 touchdowns. Defensively, the Tigers allow 29.5 points per game and 417.9 yards per game. Freshman linebacker Garrett Gibson leads the Tigers on defense with 51 tackles, including eight for losses. Senior Xavier Davis has 10.t tackles for loss and six sacks. The Tigers force almost three turnovers per game.
Hardin-Simmons' defense held the high-powered Tigers in check for three and a half quarters leading 28-7, before ETBU scored two straight touchdowns in a matter of three minutes to make it 28-19 after a pair of PAT misses. HSU closed out the game with a Kerry Sloan touchdown run, his third of the game and the Cowboys prevailed 35-19.
In The Polls
The Cowboys are ranked No. 7 in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll and are No. 8 in the D3football.com poll. East Texas Baptist is not ranked. Also the Cowboys are No. 1 in the initial South region rankings from the NCAA. Those rankings by the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee are part of the process of seeing who gets into the NCAA Tournament and when and where they play.
An HSU Win Would
• push its winning streak to nine games.
• give the Cowboys at least a share of the ASC title for the first time since 2004.
• make HSU 15-1 all-time against East Texas Baptist.
Big Crowd, Big Win
The Cowboys had their biggest crowd at home in several years with 3,864 on Saturday. The crowd was loud and boisterous and helped bring home the win in the fourth quarter. There were a number of former players back for the game as well as recruits and their families. It was the first win for the Cowboys over a top five team since 2004.
Breton Settling In
Ryan Breton took over the reins of the Cowboy offense early in the game against McMurry when starter Weston Garner went down with an arm injury. He went on to win the McMurry game and has since rattled off three straight wins under center. He set career highs in completions with 18 and attempts with 27 last week and when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter was up to the task. He had a seven-yard scramble on the first play of the drive when he avoided the rush that could have been a sack. Then he fired a dart to Jessie Ramos on the game-winning touchdown. He has thrown for 1,245 yards and 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions on the season and he has also ran the ball 36 times for 139 yards and another score.
Making A Stand
The two teams on Saturday were in a defensive slugfest through three quarter with HSU leading 14-12 going into the final quarter. The offenses then heated up for four straight touchdowns, but the Cowboys' defense had the final stand. The Cru had the ball and three timeouts with 3:12 to play, but a pair of sacks - one by Trent Walker on second down and one by Ryne Lewis on fourth down that sealed the deal for the Cowboys. The game featured eight lead changes, including four in the fourth quarter alone.
Making The Tough Yards
Senior running back Kerry Sloan had a good day against the Cru. He ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He continued to ground out the tough yards and only had 24 yards in the first half. In the second half, he carried the ball nine times for 45 yards in the opening drive to give the Cowboys the lead at 14-9. He capped that drive with a 2-yard touchdown on fourth drive. His two biggest carries of the day may have been the last two. After the Cowboys had stopped the Cru on downs, he banged out a pair of 6-yard runs to give HSU a first down that enabled them to run out the clock.
Let The Big Men Eat
There have been times throughout the season when the young Cowboy offensive line has had its growing pains, but they were on point on Saturday. The Cru's all-American defensive end Tiedrick Smith had three sacks, but the rest of the line that was averaging over seven sacks a game and over 12 tackles for loss per game got little pressure on Breton. When the Cowboys had to run the football the holes were there as the Cowboys controlled the game up front.
Defensive Line Too
The Cowboys defensive front also was dominating in the game. Senior Korey Zavala had 14 tackles, including three for losses and a sack. Randy Hirsch added a career-best 12 tackles. Ryne Lewis had a pair of sacks and Trent Walker added a sack.
Nico on Top
Junior punter Nico Francino leads the nation this week in punting at 43.6 yards per kick. He has landed 15 of his 30 punts inside the 20 yard line and has seven punts of 50 yards or more on the season. He also has touchbacks on 27 of his 60 kickoffs this season.
Three Earn Academic Awards
Nico Francino, Conlan Aguirre and Trent Walker were named to the CoSIDA academic all-district team for their performances both on the field and in the classroom. Walker has a 3.63 as an education major, Francino has a 3.49 as an engineering major and Aguirre has a 3.94 GPA as a math major. All three will go on the ballot for academic all-American honors.