Mistakes cost Rams against FCS opponent Lumberjacks

Special teams mistakes and penalties caused by Rams surge 'Jacks to victory

By Chad Miller Jr.
On October 17, 2020

Courtesy of ESPN


ASU football traveled to Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches, Texas on Oct. 17 to take on the Stephen F. Austin State Lumberjacks on a cool and humid Saturday afternoon.


The Lumberjacks started off the day with a bang, when they took the opening kickoff 84 yards. However, the Rams made a fourth-down stop to force a turnover on downs. ASU had an opportunity to take an early lead in the second drive of the game, but missed a 34-yard field goal wide left. On the third drive of the game, the Lumberjacks started the day’s scoring with a 90-yard bubble screen catch and run by receiver Xavier Gibson.


The Rams were able to respond quickly in the second quarter, as quarterback Zach Bronkhorst was able to lead the offense down the field and ended the drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Cason Brown. However, a missed extra point kept the Rams down by one. SFA scored later in the quarter, when Gibson was able to take a punt to the house to extend the ‘Jacks lead 14-6 going into halftime.


“We weren’t very good on special teams,” said Head Coach Jeff Girsch. “In a game like this, you got to be ‘special’ on special teams and we were not.”


ASU had struggled on special teams throughout the first half. Starting with the long return on the opening kickoff, to missing the point after attempt, to shanking punts which eventually led to a touchdown for SFA. These struggles would continue in the second half as four of the seven offensive drives the Lumberjacks had started on the Ram’s side of the 50-yard line due to struggles in the punting department.


SFA started the scoring in the 3rd quarter by hitting a 45-yard field goal to extend their lead. Battling back after being down 11 points, running back Alfred Grear took a handoff 38 yards for a touchdown. The Rams would fail the two-point conversion attempt after. SFA would answer with Gibson once again scoring, this time off a 76-yard touchdown catch. SFA would score one more time early in the 4th quarter off of a nine-yard run to put the game out of reach for ASU, finishing the game with a score of 12 for ASU and 31 for SFA.


“We just got to get better,” said Girsch. “I thought our defense played well all game minus two or three big plays but that’s part of it. Our offense needed to bail them out, but in the 4th quarter when we start [drives] on our own 5 [yard line], it makes it tough and limits our playbook.”

Bronkhorst ended the game 22 of 35 with 189 yards passing, with a touchdown and two interceptions. The Rams rushed for 192 yards with Grear being the leading rusher going for 80 yards and a touchdown off of 10 carries. 10 different receivers caught a pass tonight, with Austin Landry leading the busy core with three catches for 43 yards. On defense, corner Devin Washington and safety Leddy French each had an interception while Daron Allman led the defense with five total tackles on the night.


ASU looks to continue their season next weekend as they travel to Canyon, Texas for a rematch against conference rival West Texas A&M on Saturday, Oct. 24

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