Lions offense continues to fire on all cylinders

Senior defensive back Max Lyons recording one of his nine tackles against the University of Incarnate Word. Lyons also caught an interception and sacked the quarterback in the 49-30 victory in Strawberry Stadium.
Jonathan Rhodes/The Lion's Roar 

The Lions football team beat the University of Incarnate Word 49-30 in what would have been their Homecoming Game but has been postponed until their next home game against Sam Houston State. This is the third game in a row that the Lions have scored 49 points and finished the game with 500 or more yards on offense.

The Lions have only scored 40 or more points in multiple games five times in school history. However, in the first half of the game, Head Coach Ron Roberts was not too pleased with the way the team was playing.

“It was a good win,” said Roberts. “Obviously, I thought in the first half that we shot ourselves in the foot with so many penalties and when we got them. They called back a touchdown and a couple of big plays. I thought we showed some inconsistency in the first half. But, our guys played well, and they came back in the second half and scored a bunch of points.”

The Lions compiled 11 penalties and lost 98 yards. Regardless of the eventual outcome of the game, Roberts believes the game could have been put out of reach early on.

“There were plenty of lessons and mistakes to learn from,” said Roberts. “I think penalties at the wrong times caused us the chance to put the game away early. We talked to them at halftime and said, ‘Regardless of how this game ends, we got to find a way to play more consistent.’ We can’t just rely on big plays. I’m a little upset on the other team’s last touchdown of the game. Our guys got a little tired, but we got to find a way to get off the field in that situation.”

One mistake that gave the Lions a scare in the first half was a blocked punt by the Cardinals. The Lions defense held the Cardinals to a field goal, but it could have ended worse than that.

“I can handle the aggressive mistakes,” said Roberts. “Sometimes that is what it is with the holding penalties, but the blocked punt was huge. I would like to see on film what went wrong. Those type of things can’t happen.”

For the first time this season, the Lions had two running backs get more than 100 yards rushing. Junior running back Darren Johnson recorded 130 yards and one touchdown and freshman running back Marcus Cooper had 148 yards from 13 carries. The offense had a combined 353 yards rushing.

“We knew that a lot of times on offense we have to put the team on our backs with the rushing game,” said Johnson. “We understood that and put ourselves in position to do that and dominate. It was definitely difficult to transition this morning into our usual pace. We turned our switch on and understood that we needed to turn it around no matter what situation we are in. We can’t let adversity keep us from winning this game, and we definitely came out of halftime with the mindset that we needed to turn it around.”

Freshman wide receiver Juwan Petit-Frere recorded the second longest kickoff return for a touchdown in school history for 99 yards. Petit-Frere is averaging 39.6 yards per kickoff and is the third Lion to score two kickoff touchdowns in one season.

Senior defensive backs Torrance Mosley and Max Lyons both got an interception and help to limit the Cardinals offense to 254 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Nunez threw for 159 yards and threw three touchdowns to freshman wide receiver Austin Mitchell. Mitchell also lead the team with four catches and is the first Lion to catch three touchdowns in one game since 2010.

“Everything was working right,” said Mitchell. “The play calling and Nunez putting the ball in the right spot. We really didn’t expect a game like this in the morning time. It actually creeped up on us, but we were prepared and ready for it.”

The three touchdowns were the first three in Mitchell’s Lion career.

“It was actually an amazing feeling,” said Mitchell. “I haven’t scored a touchdown in like two years. I scored in the scrimmage, but that was the last time, so it really felt great. I was hoping to have a day like this. I told my teammates during the game that I’m going for three, and I got it today.”

The Lions will hit the road for their next game against Houston Baptist University this Saturday at 6 p.m. The Lion Athletic Association will have a bus trip to bring fans to the game that cost $50 per person.  The bus will leave from the Dugas Center at 11:30 a.m.