SFA rides big second half to key win over Tarleton

Courtesy of SFA Football

Share or Save for Later

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Save to Favorites

Stephen F. Austin used a dominating second half to roll to a 41-24 victory over Tarleton. The Lumberjacks improved to 4-3 on the season but, more importantly, won their Western Athletic Conference opener. The ‘Jacks are feeling the pressure to win their remaining games this season with only four WAC games and needing to boost their resume in the ASUN-WAC rankings.

Xavier Gipson started the scoring for SFA with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown. The senior found a slight seam up the middle of the field and quickly made the punter miss before racing into the end zone.

Tarleton scored ten unanswered points to take a 10-7 lead before SFA responded with ten unanswered points of its own. Then, the Texans struck for a 33-yard touchdown from running back Derrel Kelley III to tie the game at 17. 

SFA scored on six of its final _ drives, including four touchdowns, and totaled the game’s final 24 points to cruise to the win.

Not worth the risk: The ‘Jacks defense was without one of its leaders with the absence of Tkai Lloyd due to injury. SFA turned to Triumphant Olatunji as the replacement for Lloyd on Saturday.

The Tarleton coaching staff decided to test the senior from Fort Worth early in the game. Texans quarterback Beau Allen is prone to trusting his arm a little too often, which made for a dangerous combination against SFA.

Olatunji recorded an interception on two of Tarleton’s first three offensive possessions. Neither interception turned into points for the ‘Jacks, but Olatunji forced the Texans coaching staff to adjust their game plan.

Finding the right mix: Following the Battle of the Piney Woods, SFA coach Colby Carthel discussed how he felt the coaching staff figured out the right blend of scheme and players.

While the ‘Jacks were a preseason favorite by many, they suffered some key losses in the transfer portal. To add to the change, SFA had to replace nearly the entire defensive coaching staff when most of them left for FBS Louisiana Tech.

It’s safe to assume this Lumberjacks team is beginning to figure out the right formula. However, they still have four challenging opponents, including a road game at Southern Utah next Saturday.

Ground and pound: Not much has gone according to plan for SFA this season. They have struggled in all three phases of the game. However, the defense seemed to turn a corner against rival Sam Houston two weeks ago.

With the defense beginning to dominate opponents, they need the offense to provide a complimentary rushing attack. Entering the game, SFA was averaging 3.9 yards per rush attempt. 

Against the Texans, the SFA defense was tremendous, but the offense struggled to get any traction averaging 1.7 yards per rush attempt in the opening half. However, the ‘Jacks found the rushing attack in the second half averaging eight yards per rush attempt.

Game Ball: Stephen F. Austin wide receiver Xavier Gipson

Gipson is always the X-Factor in every game, and he showcased his ability against Tarleton. He opened the scoring for the ‘Jacks with an 84-yard punt return and led SFA with 108 yards on six receptions.

This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.

Sign In
Don't Miss Any Exclusive Coverage!

We've been the Bible of Texas football fans for 61 years. By joining the DCTF family you'll gain access to all of our exclusive content and have our magazines mailed to you!