A team that Stephen F. Austin first-year head coach Colby Carthel knows all too well comes to Nacogdoches on Saturday when the Lumberjacks open the home portion of their 2019 schedule as they battle NCAA Division II Tarleton State University.
The contest will kick off at 6 p.m. at Homer Bryce Stadium and will be televised on ESPN3. The audio broadcast of the game will be aired on KTBQ Radio (107.7-FM), with Rob Meyer bringing the play-by-play and Hunter Taylor providing the color.
While the Lumberjacks (0-1) are coming off a season-opening setback to Big 12 and FBS member Baylor last week, 56-17, this will be the season opener for the Texans.
Home openers have traditionally gone SFA’s way in the 92-year history of the program, with the ’Jacks holding a 53-36-1 (.596) record. In games between the two institutions, this will be the 13th overall meeting, with the Lumberjacks holding a 9-3 series lead. The last time the teams played was in 2007 when the Texans won 27-24 in overtime.
Tarleton is ranked No. 7 in the current AFCA Division II Coaches Poll, is No. 5 in the D2football.com poll. Last season the Texans rode one of the nation’s most potent offenses to the Lone Star Conference championship and a advanced to the third round of the NCAA DII playoffs, finishing 12-1.
“The one thing that could make a difference [in this week’s game] is depth,” said Carthel at the weekly press conference. “There’s a depth issue when you play up and a depth issue when you play down.
“Other than that, pound for pound they’ll be as talented a team as any we will see in the Southland Conference; I’ve said that since I got the job (at SFA). We’re going to have to really be on our ‘A’ game. If we don’t think we have to show up because we’re playing a DII team I think we’ll be sorely disappointed. This is no DII team. These guys are poised to make a run at a potential national championship and is a favorite in some polls.”
There are two avenues of familiarity between SFA and Tarleton. The first is that Carthel knows the Texans well after he coached against them when he coached at Texas A&M-Commerce, also a member of the LSC.
Tarleton is coached by a former Lumberjack and SFA alum Todd Whitten. The 1987 SFA graduate is beginning his fourth season at the helm of the Texans. Overall, Whitten is starting his 10th year as head coach of TSU and his third stint with the team.
While at A&M-Commerce for six seasons, Carthel posted an overall record of 59-18 (.766), including the 2017 NCAA DII National Championship and a 36-8 (.818) mark in LSC play.
“You hear the cliche all the time that you make the most improvements between game one and game two, and hopefully we can do that,” Carthel said about the fact that Tarleton will be opening the season this week, while SFA has already played a contest. “That’s one advantage we have on Tarleton is that we do have a game under our belt so we can see some issues that we need to get better at and address this week.”
Despite losing to Baylor last week, the Lumberjacks scored their first points (17) in the five-game series against the Bears.
SFA finished the contest with 277 total yards, including 119 on the ground and 158 through the air. Baylor tallied 518 yards, with 268 coming on the ground and 250 through the air.
Thomas Hutchings led SFA’s ground game with 68 yards,while Josh McGowan added 38.
SFA starting quarterback Trae Self passed for 140 yards on 15-of-29 completions. Xavier Gipson (3-61) and Remi Simmons (3-16) both pulled in three passes.
The Lumberjacks’ defense will have its hands full with the Texans. A year ago Tarleton scored at least 34 points in all but one game. Returning senior quarterback Ben Holmes threw for 28 touchdowns last season, completing 165-of-283 (58.3%) for 2,659 yards and only six interceptions.
Zimari Manning was the top receiver a year ago with 947 yards on 44 catches and 10 touchdowns. He will be an offensive threat along with running back Daniel McCants, who rushed for 1,141 yards and eight scores, averaging 7.3-yards per run last season.
Conference All Games
W L PF PA W L PF PA
Cent. Arkansas 0 0 0 0 1 0 35 28
Lamar 0 0 0 0 1 0 65 16
McNeese 0 0 0 0 1 0 34 28
SE Louisiana 0 0 0 0 1 0 35 14
Abilene Chrstn 0 0 0 0 0 1 31 51
Houston Baptist 0 0 0 0 0 1 34 36
Incarnate Word 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 35
Nicholls 0 0 0 0 0 1 14 49
NorthwesternSt 0 0 0 0 0 1 20 42
Sam Houston 0 0 0 0 0 1 31 39
S.F. Austin 0 0 0 0 0 1 17 56
Week 1 Results
UT Martin 42, Northwestern St. 20
Cent. Arkansas 35, W. Kentucky 28
Lamar 65, Bethel (Tenn.) 16
SE Louisiana 35, Jacksonville St. 14
Baylor 56, Stephen F. Austin 17
UTSA 35, Incarnate Word 7
New Mexico 39, Sam Houston St. 31
Kansas St. 49, Nicholls 14
McNeese St. 34, Southern U. 28
North Texas 51, Abilene Christian 31
UTEP 36, Houston Baptist 34
Saturday, Sept. 7
Tarleton St. at Stephen F. Austin, 6 p.m.
Cent. Arkansas at Austin Peay, 2 p.m.
SE Louisiana at Bethune-Cookman, 3 p.m.
Texas Wesleyan at Houston Baptist, 6 p.m.
MVSU at Lamar, 6 p.m.
McNeese St. at Oklahoma St., 6 p.m.
Midwestern St. at Northwestern St., 6 p.m.
Arizona Christian at Abilene Christian, 6 p.m.
Okla. Panhandle St. at Sam Houston St., 6 p.m.
Texas Southern at Incarnate Word, 6 p.m.