Defense key as SBU nabs first win in home opener

BOLIVAR, Mo. – The Southwest Baptist University football team had a strong showing in a 32-9 victory over Mississippi College on Saturday. With the win, the Bearcats improve to 1-1 on the season.

SBU kicked off the scoring on their first offensive possession, as the Bearcats used short passes to advance the ball into the redzone where Jordan LeClair connected on a 35 yard field goal to give the Bearcats the early 3-0 lead. On Mississippi College’s first drive of the evening, the Bearcat defense forced a punt where the snap flew over the punter’s head and into the endzonewhere Tyler Curts landed on it, giving the Bearcats a 10-0 lead. The defense again went to work on MC’s next drive, forcing a third and long where the MC quarterback was flagged with intentional grounding in the endzone, resulting in a safety and a 12-0 lead. The offense then went to work, as Edwards found Kendrick Payne for a 16 yard reception to kick off a drive that ended with another LeClair 35 yard field goal and a 15-0 lead after one quarter of play.

Mississippi College came out and put points on the board early in the second quarter, but a blocked extra point gave SBU a 15-6 lead. MC took the ball into the redzone on their next drive, but a big sack from De’shawn Tone and Brycen Gagnon and 4th and 2 gave the ball back to the SBU offense. Edwards hit Chris Robb with a 15 yard pass, Robb again for 25 yards, and CassianForeman with a 20 yard pass to set up a 27 yard field goal from LeClair as time expired. The Bearcats would go into the half leading 18-6.

In the second half Mississippi College advanced the ball into the redzone, but a strong defensive stand limited them to a field goal as SBU still lead 18-9. After two scoreless possessions on both sides, Edwards hit Jerminic Smith with a short slant where he broke a tackle and finished off an 83 yard catch and run for his first career SBU touchdown to extend the lead to 25-9.

In the fourth quarter, the SBU defense again put points on the board. After a LeClair kick pinned MC inside their own 5 yardline, a bad snap resulted in a Brycen Gagnon fumble recovery touchdown and a 32-9 SBU lead. The Bearcats would cruise over the final 12 minutes as they came away with a 32-9 victory.

The SBU defense had an outstanding performance on the evening, limiting Mississippi College to 221 yards of total offense. Tyler Curts again led the way for the Bearcats with 12 tackles, and a defensive touchdown, while Jonathan Buffin also had 10 stops. As a team the Bearcats collected 5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Offensively TJ Edwards threw for 259 yards and one touchdown while Jerminic Smith had a team high 97 receiving yards and a score.

The Bearcats will return to action on Saturday, September 16 when they travel to Indianapolis. Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. from Indianapolis, Indiana.