WAXAHACHIE — Prior to the start of the season, Howard Payne second-year head coach Roger Geise, who has been a member of the coaching staff since 2005, couldn’t recall the last season in which the Yellow Jackets were a “second-half team.”
Through two games in 2013, the Yellow Jackets have certainly earned that title as a 34-point explosion in the third and fourth periods Saturday night resulted in Howard Payne’s first victory of the season, 41-27, over the Southwestern Assemblies of God Lions.
The Yellow Jackets (1-1) shook off a pair of failed attempts to score from the SWAGU 1 in the opening quarter, along with a 10-point halftime deficit, en route to 510 yards of total offense without a turnover. Howard Payne churned out 364 yards and 22 second-half points in last week’s opening 47-29 home loss to Trinity.
HPU rushed for 264 yards against SWAGU, led by 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Zarron Dove, and also passed for 246 yards, as Richard Young connected on 17 of 29 passes for 230 yards with five scoring strikes. Colby Mica hauled in three of the touchdown receptions and finished with five catches for 89 yards.
Defensively, the Yellow Jackets surrendered 457 yards of total offense — 333 on the ground and 124 through the air. Former HPU quarterback Reid Golson led SWAGU in both rushing, with 117 yards, and passing with all 124 yards.
Trailing 17-7 at halftime, and with just 148 yards of total offense to their credit, the Yellow Jackets capitalized on a pair of SWAGU (0-2) fumbles and scored three touchdowns in the third period.
The Yellow Jackets closed the gap to 17-14 at the 11:36 mark on a 5-yard scoring toss from Young, who through two games has thrown nine touchdown passes without an interception, to Mica. The touchdown came shortly after the Lions fumbled away their initial possession of the second half.
Another SWAGU fumble resulted in Howard Payne regaining the lead as Dove capped a short drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, staking the Yellow Jackets to a 21-17 advantage with 4:08 left in the third.
Mica then displayed his speed on the next HPU possession, taking a screen pass from Young 67 yards to the end zone as the Yellow Jackets built a double-digit cushion, 28-17, with 1:50 to go in the quarter.
SWAGU closed to within 28-20 on a 25-yard field goal with 13:15 to go, but Howard Payne answered with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Young to Sayvon Young-Cormier with 11:20 remaining, pushing the lead to 35-20.
Golson scored on a 2-yard carry for the Lions with 8:22 remaining, but again Howard Payne answered with a 3-yard touchdown run by Dove with 4:46 left to ice the victory.
The Yellow Jackets will attempt to earn their second straight win at 1 p.m. Saturday when they host Wayland Baptist.