Sixth-ranked Saint Francis (Ind.) turned up the heat in the final quarter, overcoming the southern climate to defeat the Texas College 46-10 in the NAIA season opener.
The Cougars scored 23 points in the fourth quarter alone — twice on defense and two more times on the ground — after taking a 23-10 lead into the final frame.
Saturday’s game marked the first since the completion of a renovation project at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium that implemented new turf and improved the lighting.
Antoin Campbell rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns, including a back-breaking 72-yard scoring jaunt following a Saint Francis safety, to make it 32-10 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. The Cougars (1-0) recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score and added another short TD run to close out the route.
“It was a long trip,” said Campbell, whose team played more than 960 miles away from its campus in Fort Wayne, Ind. “I expected it to be hot but you can’t prepare for heat like this in Indiana. Everyone was coming out sluggish. We had a few momentum swings and that got us going.”
The Steers showed signs of life on defense, but few on offense with the exception of Aaron Washington’s 66-yard TD pass to Johnny Thomas to make it a 13-point game late in the third quarter.
TC completed 2 of 15 passes for 92 yards on the day. The Steers played without heralded quarterback Vincent McNeil, along with others awaiting clearance to play from the NAIA eligibility center.
The Steers suffered their 12th-straight loss in the process.
“It’s similar to last year where we’re waiting on our quarterback to get cleared,” said second-year Texas College coach George Cumby. “We struggled on offense.”
Washington, a redshirt freshman from Dallas who transferred from Lon Morris, started in place of McNeil. Devin Lee played quarterback on occasion and led the Steers with 29 yards rushing.
The Steers trailed 14-0 before ever attempting a snap after Saint Francis scored in nine plays on the opening drive capped by Campbell’s 6-yard run off the right tackle. TC failed to field the ensuing kickoff and Saint Francis recovered before scoring five plays later on Campbell’s 2-yard run to the same side.
Both teams entered the fourth quarter with 10 first downs, with Saint Francis ahead slightly on total yardage (194-175). The Steers totaled four yards in the fourth quarter, with Washington getting dropped for a safety to make it 25-10. Two plays after TC kicked off, Campbell took an option pitch down the sideline and cut back to all but seal the deal.
“It was an option play we’d been trying to bust,” added Campbell. “I’d been looking at it all day and it finally broke.”
Campbell gave the turf the thumbs-up, but won’t be rushing back to the Lone Star State.
“I liked the turf. I grade it as an A-plus,” said Campbell, a 5-11, 203-pound sophomore from Springboro, Ohio who had family from the Lone Star State in attendance. “It was a good experience, but I don’t know if I’d want to come back to Texas.”
No. 6 Saint Francis (Ind.) 46, Texas College 10
At Earl Campbell Field
Saint Francis14 9 0 23 — 46
Texas College 3 0 7 0 — 10
SF—Antoin Campbell 6 run (Emerson Ueber kick), 9:54
SF—Campbell 2 run (Ueber kick), 8:00
TC—FG 38 Houston Creighton, 1:48
SF—Austin Coleman 2 run (kick blocked), 6:04
SF—FG 32 Ueber, 2:22
TC—Johnny Thomas 66 pass from Aaron Washington (Creighton kick), 2:32
SF—Washington sacked in end zone for safety, 14:25
SF—Campbell 72 run (Ueber kick), 13:47
SF—Jody Dynako recovered fumble in end zone (Ueber kick), 8:56
SF—Kyle Mathewson 10 run (Ueber kick), 2:11
EST. ATT. —350.
First Downs 15 11
Rushes-Yards 32-183 42-87
Passing Yards 188 92
Comp.-Att.-Int. 15-29-0 2-15-1
Punts-Avg. 6-34.3 7-30.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 10-95 13-101
RUSHING—Saint Francis, Antoin Campbell 11-108, Josh Miller 10-38, Austin Coleman 2-13, Andre Turner 5-12, Kyle Mathewson 4-12. Texas College, Devin Lee 10-29, Derrick Davis 7-25, Edward Burns 7-18, Aaron Washington 10-11, Taylor Gray 3-7, Marques Thompson 2-0, Charles Jackson 1-0, Eric Moore, 2-(-3).
PASSING—Saint Francis, Miller 10-22-0—99; Wesley Hunsucker 3-4-0—35; David Yoder 2-3-0—54. Texas College, Washington 2-10-1—92; Lee 0-5-0—0.
RECEIVING—Saint Francis, Colin Harruf 3-48, Aaron Knight 3-11, Brendton Williams 2-67, Aaron Betcher 2-16, Hunsucker 1-23, Cody Appenzeller 1-9, Clayton Smith 1-6, Coleman 1-5, Akeim Kelsaw 1-3. Texas College, Johnny Thomas 1-66, Ja’Marius Allen 1-26.