Small College Review: Midwestern State with another upset W, SFA and Lamar continue to improve

Trey Reed/Midwestern State University

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Second Half Reputation

The Midwestern State coaching staff is pretty good at making halftime adjustments, and the players are excellent at executing those adjustments.

No. 21 MSU overcame a halftime deficit for the second consecutive week to pull off an upset with a 35-17 win on the road over No. 17 Angelo State.

While the deficit was only three points at halftime this week, the Mustangs used another strong half on offense and defense to pull away from the Rams.

Over their first three games, the Mustangs have outscored their opponents 69-14 in the second half, including 42-7 against top 25 competition the past two weeks.

MSU is even better in the fourth quarter, where they have outscored the opponents by an incredible 34-0. 

This win placed the Mustangs in the driver’s seat for the Lone Star Conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs. 

Some roadblocks remain in the Mustangs schedule, such as West Texas A&M and UT Permian Basin. However, defeating the two teams predicted to be at the top of the LSC in the preseason polls allows MSU to control its fate.

Lumberjacks Resurgence Continues

Colby Carthel, if you are reading this, please skip over the following three paragraphs.

I was at Carthel’s first game at the helm of Stephen F. Austin, a 56-19 loss on the road to a Baylor team who was one of the top teams in the Big 12. The result wasn’t a surprise, but the first punt attempt sure was.

Carthel had found out about possible NCAA violations by the previous regime while the Lumberjacks were boarding the bus for Waco, forcing Carthel to remove many of his seniors, including his starting punter.

Known for using two punters at Texas A&M-Commerce, Carthel employed the same formation against the Bears. However, the punt was blocked by his replacement due to the starting punter being pulled off the bus.

I know Carthel is sick of hearing that story, and I only mention it here to praise the ‘Jacks coaching staff for an incredible turnaround. No team in the country at any level has improved as much as SFA since the start of the 2018 season. 

After defeating Tarleton to open this season, the Lumberjacks nearly upset Texas Tech before demolishing Mississippi Valley State Saturday night. I’m not making any predictions right now, but I’m going to point out the Battle of the Piney Woods against the defending national champion No. 1 Sam Houston is in two weeks at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Lamar Wins OT Thriller

Another team beginning an incredible turnaround is the Lamar Cardinals. Coach Blane Morgan was named head coach following the 2019 season.

Morgan and his staff were forced to reshape nearly the entire Cardinals roster then wait until Spring 2021 to assess his team against FCS competition. Lamar surprised many with wins over McNeese and Northwestern State during a 2-4 spring campaign.

The Cardinals continued to show their improvement under Morgan last Saturday with a thrilling 17-10 overtime victory at Northern Colorado.

Morgan has brought his mental toughness to his team, as evidenced last week. UNC took a 10-7 lead with a 57-yard field goal with 2:30 left in regulation. However, the Cardinals offense responded, and Bailey Giffen sent the game to overtime with a 26-yard field goal with six seconds on the clock.

Lamar took control of the overtime and scored the deciding points on a 10-yard touchdown run from Chaz Ward. However, the Cardinals’ defense forced UNC to play behind the chains on the ensuing possession and finished the game with two sacks on consecutive plays.

The Cardinals begin WAC play on Saturday against Abilene Christian.

Helmet Stickers

Cameron Ward, Incarnate Word

UIW made program history last Saturday with a 42-34 win over Texas State, marking the Cardinals’ first victory over an FBS opponent. Quarterback Cameron Ward remained composed throughout a tight contest completing 31-of-47 passes for 376 yards and four touchdowns.

Jeremiah Aaron, Navarro

Navarro suffered a tough 39-31 defeat to No. 12 New Mexico Military Institute last Saturday, but that didn’t diminish the incredible performance of wide receiver Jeremiah Aaron. Aaron caught ten passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns for the Bulldogs.

Jake Parker, Howard Payne

Last Saturday, Howard Payne rolled over a solid Hendrix team with a 55-21 win at Children’s Health Stadium in Prosper, Texas. Wide receiver Jake Parker led the Yellow Jackets with 181 yards and three touchdowns on seven receptions.

Plays of the Week

Each week, we scour social media to find the top plays. However, we are sure to miss some incredible plays from the 35 small college teams in Texas, so we are seeking your assistance. 

If you find a great play worthy of a nomination, use hashtag #dctftopplays to make sure we notice.

Here are the top five plays from Week 3.


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