‘Roos Drop Homecoming Game to TLU
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Emotions were running high at Jerry Apple Stadium last Saturday afternoon as Austin College students, faculty, alumni, and family all reunited to watch the homecoming game: The Kangaroos versus the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs. After falling to TLU twice last year, AC was definitely predicted to be the underdog. Despite this, the Red Shirts had high hopes for themselves.
“I think we had a rough game the previous week (against Southwestern), but I think our attitude going into the week was positive,” senior quarterback Cooper Woodyard said. “We wanted to knock that taste out of our mouth, bounce back, and have a good game.”
Although they were optimistic, the first quarter didn’t begin in the most ideal way for the ‘Roos. The Bulldogs’ Jekovan Holmes slapped AC with a 23-yard touchdown catch with 12:44 still left on the clock. Failing to obtain any points from their first drive, Woodyard was forced to punt on fourth down (9:16 left) and TLU was ripe to redeem their second scoring opportunity. After about a five-minute march down the field, the Bulldogs were able to reach field goal proximity and reap three more points. An uneventful possession on each end ate up the rest of the clock, and AC took over at the end of the quarter with a 10-0 scoring deficit.
The ‘Roos wasted no time when the second quarter began. Woodyard broke through defensive holes to score on a long rush (13:10), and junior Cesar Ruiz chipped in with the extra point to encroach on the Bulldog lead. Senior Javier Reynoso fed the ball back to TLU on a squib kick, and they began their drive on the 35-yard line. The ball bounced back and forth between the two teams once more before the Bulldogs would acquire their next touchdown. Holmes scored again on a reception and the PAT was good, increasing their lead to 17-7. Both sides were unable to score for the remainder of the quarter, and the ‘Roos took time to regroup at halftime—they were determined to answer TLU’s offensive aggressiveness, especially with their homecoming game on the line.
“We knew a lot of people were coming, so we kind of wanted to show out a little bit,” senior linebacker Kendall St. Romain said.
AC definitely came out firing on all cylinders in the second half—the Bulldogs were kept completely locked out of the end zone the entire time. TLU’s defensive scheme proved to be almost equally as tough to squeeze some points around. With less than a minute to go in the third, though, Ruiz kicked a field goal that cut the Kangaroo disadvantage to 17-10. Slowly but surely, AC was beginning to make a comeback—no matter what wasn’t going their way.
“Response… That was huge,” senior linebacker James Hemen. “Throughout the game, we responded to adversity.”
They continued to respond in the fourth quarter by not allowing the Bulldogs any more points and by scoring another field goal (Ruiz). Even with outstanding effort and performance, though, it just wasn’t enough for the ‘Roos to pull off the win. The score was sealed at 17-13.
Nonetheless, Head Coach Loren Dawson was proud of the way his team played. Against a solid team, he saw a promising reaction from the Red Shirts.
“Our guys did a really good job in a lot of areas,” Dawson said. “I’m very proud of their effort level compared to the week before. They fought from the beginning to the end.”
Senior center Branden Hunt was in strong agreeance with his coach.
“I thought we played a lot better than last week,” said Hunt. “I think we played in a way that was more indicative of the way the program is built, the way it has been built over 120 years.”
The ‘Roos are taking the positives from this loss and will hold their heads high going into their next games over the season. They will face Trinity next, followed by rematch games against Southwestern, TLU, and Trinity.
“Keeping the score that close to a team that has been on top for a few years gave us motivation for these next few weeks,” senior defensive lineman Wesley Thompson said. “Defensively it has boosted our confidence because TLU has not been held to 17 points since they played the #2 team in the nation in 2014. We look to use what we have learned and bounce back this weekend.”