SFA comes up short in 2020 season opener, falling 24-14 to UTEP

College Sports

EL PASO, Texas – The SFA football team jumped out to a 14-3 second quarter lead over FBS program UTEP inside the Sun Bowl on Saturday, but were undone but untimely mistakes in a 24-14 result. The non-conference game represented SFA’s season opener of a schedule that features seven contests for the Lumberjacks. 
The Lumberjacks got the game off on the right foot, as they received the opening kick and marched 75 yards down the field for the go-ahead score. The drive was punctuated by long receptions of 25 and 33 yards to Xavier Gipson and Quentyvian Borders, respectively, and was capped off by a 17-yard scoring strike from Trae Self to Lawton Rikel
After a punt by each team, the host Miners took advantage of a pass interference penalty on third down and capped off an eight play, 49-yard drive with a 22-yard field goal to make the score 7-3. 
Building on their momentum and the defensive stand against the Miner’s the ‘Jacks mounted a second touchdown drive, this time a 12-play, 84 yard drive spanning 6:17 to increase their lead to 14-3. The drive was capped off by a one-yard touchdown scamper by Da’Leon Ward, who took the handoff from Self and sprinted out to the left to score with ease after Jeremiah Miller was tackled at the one-yard line one play earlier.
Undeterred, the Miners pulled one score back with a long drive of their own right before the first half ended. The 16-play, 83 yard drive ate up ten minutes of clock and pulled the score to 14-10. A Lumberjack turnover on the ensuing possession allowed the Miners to tack on another score before the halftime break, taking a 17-14 lead. 
The Miners received the kick to begin the third quarter of play and promptly drove down to the SFA 19-yard line before a fumble on a 4th-and-1 play led to a Lumberjack recovery by Brevin Randle. After the resulting Lumberjack drive stalled near midfield, the Miners began a drive that would carry into the fourth quarter of play.
With the Miner’s threatening to move into the SFA red zone, the ‘Jacks defense came up with a big play to deny the score. Amad Murray nearly sacked Miner’s QB Gavin Hardison, who managed to slither away before throwing an off-balanced ball that was picked off by a diving Aretavious Hendrix to begin an SFA drive. 
Senior RB Josh McGowen broke away for a long 31-yard scamper minutes later, setting up a red zone push for the Lumberjacks. Unfortunately, the Miners would pick off Self’s end zone attempt to deny SFA the chance at a go-ahead score. 
The Miners would march down the field and tack on an insurance score with four minutes remaining to pull ahead 24-14. The drive was a 9-play, 80-yard drive that spanned four minutes of game time. 
• The matchup was the first all-time between the two teams. 
• Lawton Rikel’s first quarter touchdown was the first touchdown reception of his Lumberjack career. 
• Prior to the Lumberjack kick-off following their opening drive score, all 22 players on the field as well as the respective benches took a knee with raised fists in a moment of silence and solidarity over a protest of racial bias and injustice. The action resulted in a delay of game penalty on the ‘Jacks, which was declined by the UTEP sideline.
• SFA’s game against UTEP was one of seven games currently schedule for SFA to play during the fall non-conference season, and one of six that will take place against in-state foes. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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