GEORGETOWN – It will be a memory that will last a life time.
With the help of four interceptions on defense the Southwestern University football team made history Saturday afternoon with a 27-20 win over Sul Ross State in the season opener.
A resilient Pirate defense never let up and continued to put pressure on the Lobos as Nik Kelly nabbed two interceptions and Tanner Rogers and DeeJay Johnson also added a pick. Rogers was also one of the defensive highlights for Southwestern finishing with a game-high 11 tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss and one sack.
Southwestern twice rallied back to take the lead including the decisive score when Bryan Hicks found Justin Pelt near the goal line and carried it inside the pylon to put the Pirates up 27-13 midway through the third quarter.
“We never gave up,” said Hicks who finished 14-37 passing for 185 and four touchdowns. “It came down to us going out and playing the best we can. We knew if we did that we would have a chance to win.”
Although there were a few mistakes on the Pirates side of the field the Southwestern defense held toughest when it needed to.
Sophomore defensive end Justin Broussard also played a key role with two sacks – both coming on fourth down to stop the Lobos. Broussard added 10 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss, but maybe even more impressive was his three forced fumbles.
The historic win saw a swing of emotions as Sul Ross jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter and added another score midway through the second. However the Pirates answered both times first with a Micah Sherman 14-yard touchdown pass from Hicks that was set up on a blocked punt.
The Pirates would take a 14-13 lead into halftime when Hicks found Matt Gillen in the back of the end zone from 26-yards out that capped a six play 63-yard drive.
Southwestern scored again when Hicks found Dante Smith on a 21-yard score to put the Pirates up 21-13 at the start of the third quarter. Smith led all receivers with six catches for 63 yards and one touchdown.
After Sul Ross State scored in the final two minutes of the game inched the game within a touchdown the Lobos were able to recover the onside as well.
“I’m really happy for our guys. They are able to seeing hard-work starting to pay off,” said head coach Joe Austin. “Today we were able to see a lot of what we’ve been working towards pay off and we made some big plays.”
No play might have been bigger however than the pressure that came from the defensive line on the final drive for Sul Ross. Southwestern got pressure on each play of the drive holding the Lobos on fourth-and-four and their final pass fell incomplete giving the Pirates their first win.
“We left points out there, but we definitely showed we are heading in the right direction,” Austin said. “Now we’ve learned how to win, we don’t’ want to get away from getting better every day. And that starts with East Texas Baptist next week.”
The Pirates improve to 1-0 with their first win since reinstating football last season. It is also the first win in school history since November 4, 1950 when Southwestern defeated Austin College.
Southwestern returns to action next week as they travel to East Texas Baptist for a 7 p.m. kickoff.