PINEVILLE, La. — Six interceptions, including four on their first five possessions, dug a massive hole too deep from which to escape for the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets, who dropped a 55-28 decision to the Louisiana College Wildcats Saturday afternoon in American Southwest Conference football action.
Despite the miscues, the Yellow Jackets (4-4, 1-2) trailed Louisiana College (4-4, 2-1) by a 34-14 count at halftime, and head coach Roger Geise felt HPU was still within striking distance at intermission.
But Howard Payne opened the second half with its fifth interception, which Louisiana College turned into points and a 41-14 lead that essentially sealed the Yellow Jackets’ fate.
“We gave Louisiana College a short field most of the first half and they got 34 points,” Geise said. “We should have had at least 21 points in the first half, but there was still a lot of game to go and we’ve shown we could score some points. The game wasn’t out of hand, but we came out and immediately threw an interception. Six interceptions, one for a pick six, and they had just one turnover. That’s a recurring habit we’ve gotten into.”
The Yellow Jackets finished with 513 yards of total offense compared to 483 for Louisiana College. HPU quarterback Richard Young completed 22 of 45 passes for 360 yards and two touchdowns, with six costly interceptions.
Reserve quarterback Caisson Montieth led Howard Payne in both receiving and rushing yards, catching five passes for 116 yards and rushing 11 times for 48 yards and a touchdown. Colby Mica added seven receptions for 96 yards, while Sayvon Young-Cormier grabbed two receptions for 69 yards — both of which went for touchdowns.
Louisiana College running back Devin Sylve found the end zone six times — five on rushes as he finished with 172 yards, and once on a reception as he hauled in five catches for 74 yards. Wildcat quarterback Easton Melancon connected on 22 of 35 passes for 256 yards as Shedrick Davis caught a game-high 12 passes for 132 yards and Austin Carlin chipped in a 14-yard touchdown grab.
Grayson Pylant led the Wildcat defense with 12 tackles and two interceptions, while Jason Disney finished with 10 tackles to lead Howard Payne.
Louisiana College marched 59 yards in nine plays to open as the game as Sylve scored on a 1-yard run to put the Wildcats in front, 7-0.
Howard Payne responded with a 50-yard drive down the Wildcat 18, where Young was intercepted for the first time by Pylant at the Louisiana College 10, and the ball was returned 23 yards.
The Yellow Jackets forced the Wildcats to punt, but Howard Payne was pinned at its own 5. On the third play of the possession, Young was intercepted by Trent Hall, and Louisiana College took over at the HPU 20. Three plays later, Sylve was back in the end zone and the Yellow Jackets were down 14-0 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Howard Payne responded with a three-play, 71-yard scoring drive as Young connected with Young-Cormier on a 65-yard touchdown pass facing third-and-4.
After another stop by the Jacket defense, Young hurled his third interception of the first period as C.J. Hawkins returned the pick six 15 yards to stretch Louisiana College’s lead to 20-7 at the end of the first period.
On HPU’s ensuing possession, the Wildcats collected their fourth interception near midfield, which resulted in a two-play, 46-yard drive capped by a 28-yard touchdown pass from Melancon to Sylve. With 10:34 left before halftime, the Louisiana College lead stood at 27-7.
The two teams traded touchdowns before the end of the half with Young-Cormier scoring on a 4-yard pass from Young to cap a 10-play, 77-yard drive.
Louisiana College began its ensuing drive at the HPU 37 and quickly answered with a 3-yard Sylve touchdown run with 4:46 left before halftime.
Trailing 34-14 to start the third period, the Yellow Jackets held the ball for just three plays before Ira Jewitt picked off Young at the HPU 31.
Four plays later, Sylve scored from 11 yards out and the Yellow Jackets trailed 41-14 at the 12:58 mark of the third period.
HPU responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard Montieth touchdown that closed the gap to 41-21, where it remained until the 11:37 mark of the fourth period.
The Wildcats tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 46-yard Sylve run and a 14-yard toss from Melancon to Carlin.
Down 55-21, HPU’s final points came with 3:19 left on a 12-yard touchdown run by A.J. Hettler.
Howard Payne hosts No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor in its home finale next weekend.
ASC FOOTBALL STANDINGS
W L W L
Mary Hardin-Baylor 3 0 8 0
Hardin-Simmons 2 1 5 2
Louisiana College 2 1 4 4
Howard Payne 1 2 4 4
East Texas Baptist 1 2 3 5
Sul Ross 0 3 1 7
Louisiana College 55, Howard Payne 28
Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, Hardin-Simmons 28
East Texas Baptist 45, Sul Ross 30
Saturday, Nov. 8
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Howard Payne, 1 p.m.
ETBU at Hardin-Simmons, 1 p.m.
Louisiana College at Sul Ross, 1 p.m.