East Texas Baptist University edges Sul Ross State 31-28

ALPINE, Texas – Stepping up on the road in a hard place to play at Jackson Field, the East Texas Baptist University held off Sul Ross State University, 31-28, in American Southwest Conference play. Alek Child posted a career day with three rushing touchdowns as ETBU moved to 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the ASC.

Child, who filled in at quarterback after Cobe Craft left the game, led ETBU leading them to 359 yards of total offense. He passed for 159 yards, rushed for 71 yards, and posted three rushing touchdowns. Overall, ETBU had 195 yards rushing as Jaden Thomas collected the first 100-yard rushing game of the year with 106 yards and one touchdown. Tariq Gray had four catches for 76 yards.

Defensively, ETBU forced three fumbles recovering them all, recorded one interception, and had two sacks. Justice Henson led the team with eight tackles while Joey Johnson had seven tackles and a sack. Josh Reed had the other sack and two tackles-for-loss. Robert Williams grabbed his first career interception as Kade Stephenson, Tucker Momon, and Keegan Patty all forced fumbles.

The first five minutes of the game was a defensive battle as on the second play of SRSU’s drive Stephenson forced the fumble as ETBU recovered. The Tigers went three-and-out but then forced an interception on the Lobos next possession getting the ball back at their own 46-yard line. SRSU handed ETBU another three-and-out and on the next play scored on a 79-yard pass  for the first 7-0 lead (8:57).

Unearned runs cost Leopards

Romand Jefferson answered with a 70-yard kickoff return to the SRSU 25-yard line and three plays later Thomas tied the game up at seven. He recorded three straight rushes finishing with a two-yard jaunt into the end zone to make it, 7-7, at the 7:41 mark. Just four plays into their drive, SRSU fumbled the ball, again, as Patty made the play and Johnson fell the ball to give it back to the Tigers. Both teams then went three-and-out. With 3:42 left in the first quarter, ETBU started on their own 45-yard line. Two plays into the drive, Craft left the game and Child came in. Four plays in ETBU had a fourth-and-two that was converted on with a Thomas rush to the SRSU 30-yard line. Three plays later, Child rushed in from 16-yards out to put ETBU up, 14-7 (00:21).

SRSU took the ball into the second quarter the Tiger defense forced the fourth turnover the game with another fumble recovered by Williams at the SRSU 34-yard line. Two plays later, including the first play to Gray on a 30-yard pass, ended in a four-yard rush by Child for his second touchdown of the day an 14-point lead, 21-7 (13:22). SRSU took three minutes off the clock driving to the ETBU three-yard line but a penalty set the back 10-yards. ETBU’s defense held and forced a field goal that was missed by the Lobos as the Tigers held onto their lead. Neither team could get their offense back in gear after that. SRSU did try another field goal before the half from 35-yards out but was blocked as ETBU maintained their lead at the half, 21-7.

An onside kick from SRSU to start the second half gave them the ball. The Tiger defense held up and forced a punt. After having the ball for two minutes, ETBU gave it back to the Lobos on a punt. Two plays later, SRSU had a 42-yard run to pull within seven, 21-14. On the kickoff to ETBU, SRSU forced another fumble to recover at the Tigers’ 15-yard line. It took four plays for SRSU to then tie the game up at 14 on a five-yard run with 8:11 left in the third quarter.

Taking almost seven minutes off the clock, ETBU had their longest drive of the game that started at the 25-yard line. Child drove the team down the field and finished it off on a one-yard run to go up, 28-21, with 1:33 left in the quarter. The defense forced a three-and-out and the Tigers had the ball to start the fourth quarter.

On their second possession of the fourth quarter, ETBU took another five minutes off the clock with a long drive. Starting at mid-field, ETBU drove down to the 16-yard line as Alberto Garica connected on a 26-yard field pushing the lead to 10, 31-21, with 6:20 left to play in the game. SRSU fought right back over the next four minutes pulling with three, 31-28, on a three-yard pass not giving up with 2:41 to play. ETBU then took the kickoff and ran out the clock for the win.

ETBU will finish the season at home next Saturday against Belhaven University at 1:00 p.m.

From ETBU Athletics staff reports