Henderson says SAGU is dangerous - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Henderson says SAGU is dangerous

Provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics Provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics

Provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics

At times, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team has had a tough 2016 season thus far, especially the squad's last couple of outings.

Two weeks ago the Lions narrowly dropped their Central States Football League opener to Lyon College, falling 48-42 in overtime. Then last week SAGU suffered another tough loss to defending conference champion Arizona Christian, 29-22.

"They've struggled the last couple of weeks," Wayland Baptist coach Butch Henderson said of SAGU. "They've made some mistakes. Turnovers have been the biggest thing."

As a result, Henderson is taking a very cautious approach to the Lions (2-4 overall, 0-2 CSFL) as his Pioneers (4-1, 1-0) – winners of a school-record three straight – get set to host SAGU at 2 p.m. Saturday in Greg Sherwood Memorial Bulldog Stadium.

"They're kind of like a wounded animal," the coach said. "You know they will come back out firing at some point."

Fans are invited to greet the Pioneers on their way to the field for pre-game warmups at a tailgate party hosted by Plainview's First Assembly of God Church. A limited number of sausage wraps will be given away, along with rally towels provided by the church, beginning around 12:45 p.m. in the tailgate area located in the southeast corner of the home parking lot.

Fans are encouraged to wear pink to support Wayland's October breast cancer awareness initiative, which will include fan donations to Susan G. Komen-Lubbock Area. Representatives of Komen and Covenant Hospital Plainview will be at the game to distribute breast cancer awareness materials.

Saturday's game can be heard locally on 1090-AM with Danny Andrews providing play-by-play along with color analyst Brad Miles, and sideline reporter Alex Driggars.

Wayland goes into the game enjoying its first three-game win streak since the program was rebirthed in 2012. The Pioneers' next win will establish another program record by giving WBU five victories and surpassing last season's total.

More importantly, said Henderson, winning moves the program one step closer to its goal of capturing the CSFL title for the first time.

"If we're going to realize our dream of winning the conference championship, we have to keep winning," he said.

And Henderson knows while SAGU may be struggling a bit now, the Lions – who were picked in the preseason to finish in third place, just ahead of Wayland – could awaken any time.

"With them being picked like they were in the conference, you know they're a good football team," he said. "They're well-coached and still playing hard."

Henderson added that the Lions have lots of talent on their roster, including on defense with standout players at every level.

"They have a good defensive line, a good middle linebacker and an all-American cornerback," he said. "They're pretty sound in all that they do."

The all-American corner is Carl Morgan, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior from Shreveport, La., who had five interceptions each of the last two seasons and three picks in just three games this year.

"He's a really good cornerback," Henderson said.

SAGU's top tackler is Ethan Eastwood, a 6-1, 245-pound senior mike backer from Maypearl, Texas, whose 12 tackles per game ranks seventh in the NAIA. Bracing the boys up front is 6-3, 225-pound junior Matt Lighter of Katy, Texas, who leads the league in tackles for loss with eight.

On offense, Henderson said SAGU is a very balanced team with about a 50/50 run-to-pass mix.

"They have a good tailback in JP Lowery. He has good speed and great vision. I'd describe him as a slicer. He hits the hole well," Henderson said of the 5-9, 185-pound junior from Clear Falls, Texas, who averages 85 yards per game and over five yards a carry. Lowery has scored seven touchdowns.

SAGU boasts two of the conference's top receivers in Jeremy Carr and Toras Hill, who average 66 and 45 yards receiving per game, respectively, with six total TDs.

"They spread it out to those guys," Henderson said of Carr, a 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore from Austin, who averages almost 20 yards a catch, and Hill, a 6-4, 205-pound junior from Fort Worth who gets almost 15 a grab.

Henderson also bragged on SAGU's offensive line.

"They're good and have good size," he said.

Henderson said the Lions have been affected by the injuries of a couple of key players in junior quarterback CJ Collins, who in SAGU's 40-14 win over Wayland last season threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns, and an all-conference defensive end.

Wayland has lost to the Lions the last three seasons. After winning 58-37 in their rebirth season, the Pioneers have fallen 26-21, 40-20 and 40-14. Last year's game in the Waxahachie rain featured a dozen turnovers, including five interceptions and three fumbles by Wayland.

"We did not play very well and turned the ball over a bunch," Henderson recalled.

After receiving day-long showers Thursday, Saturday's forecast is for dry skies with temperatures near 90.

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