The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets generated a season-high 413 yards of total offense, including 350 rushing yards, but that translated into one touchdown and three field goals in a 52-15 homecoming loss to the Sul Ross Lobos Saturday at Gordon Wood Stadium.
On the flip side of the ball, Howard Payne (1-6, 1-5) yielded 517 yards to Sul Ross (4-3, 3-3), with 306 coming on the ground and 211 through the air, as the Lobos halted a two-game skid. Howard Payne was also flagged 14 times for 135 yards in dropping its third game in a row.
“We talked all week about for us to have an opportunity to win, we had to do right longer,” said HPU first-year head coach Braxton Harris, “and there was no do right at all. There was no longer to get to. Fourteen penalties, that’s an undisciplined football team and ultimately that falls back directly on me as the head football coach. I felt like I did a poor job getting those guys ready to play today. We ask our kids to be accountable and coaches have to be accountable as well. Fourteen penalties go right on me.”
The Yellow Jackets trailed just 14-6 at halftime, answering a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Reed to Byron Jones and a 13-yard Jalen Styner scoring sprint in the first eight minutes with field goals of 22 and 35 yards from Blake Phipps in the second period.
“It was a one touchdown game at halftime and I didn’t feel like we played that good in the first half,” Harris said. “We had eight penalties at halftime, but I felt like if we eliminated those things in the second half we’d have a great opportunity to win this game, and we didn’t do that.”
Like the first half, Sul Ross put up two quick touchdowns as Andre Wilson scored on a 33-yard scamper 2:18 in the third period, then Jacques Wisner returned a blocked punt 43 yards for a Lobo touchdown, putting Howard Payne in a 28-6 hole just 3:57 after intermission.
Eli Lopez tacked on a 36-yard field goal, and Josh Lopez scored on a 2-yard pass from Jeremy Schilhab with 13:35 left, stretching the Sul Ross advantage to 38-6.
Howard Payne produced its lone touchdown with 12:47 left – closing the gap to 38-12 — on a 1-yard run by LeMarcus Harmon, which was set up by Hunter Batten’s 63-yard carry the play prior. Batten finished with 211 yards on 24 carries, while Harmon chipped in 67 yards on 10 rushes.
“Our offensive linemen are doing a good job and if you look at the backs — Hunter Batten and LeMarcus Harmon — I thought they both ran hard and with a purpose,” Harris said. “All the things we talk about, how to play the game, those kids are doing those things.”
The Yellow Jackets continued to struggle through the air, however, as Mitchell Jennings returned to the lineup and completed just 9 of 25 passes for 63 yards with one interception. Eric Haverstock caught four passes for 40 yards, Edwin Godfrey added two grabs for 20 yards and Kaidrion Laston brought in three receptions that totaled just 3 yards.
“We had a lot of opportunities today in the passing game, but we had some drops in some places,” Harris said. “We had some good calls, the right schemes, and we missed opportunities to make those plays.”
Sul Ross added two late scores on a 31-yard run by quarterback James Davis, while Marcus Montez caught a 23-yard scoring toss from Paul Rodriguez. Phipps added a 25-yard field goal for HPU to round out the scoring.
Davis passed for 120 yards and rushed for 56 yards for the Lobos, Wilson finished with 131 yards on the ground, and Montez was the top receiver with 69 yards on a pair of receptions.
Defensively for HPU, Austin Kilgore notched eight tackles followed by Jake Wright with seven and Tevin Dawson with six.
“When you have a mobile quarterback you’re always dangerous, but to have one like Davis that has experience playing in the American Southwest Conference, that paid dividends for them today,” Harris said. “It’s their coach’s fourth year at Sul Ross and you’re starting to see guys that are juniors and seniors over there making some plays. Ultimately when it comes down to football you have to make a play when you need one. There’s no question in my mind our kids will be able to gravitate toward making more of those plays with the more opportunities they have to do that.”
The Yellow Jackets will attempt to rebound at 1 p.m. Saturday when they host Texas Lutheran (4-3, 4-2), which is coming off a narrow 33-30 loss to No. 5 Hardin-Simmons.