Despite losing in the first ever Southwestern football game in new Richard L. Jantz Stadium, the Builders competed well against a team that handed them a 35-14 loss last year.
Macklin Nusz, senior defensive back, opened up the scoring with a 70-yard return off of a blocked field goal attempt to put the Builders up 7-0 just three minutes into the game.
The Aggies answered on their ensuing possession as they mounted an impressive drive against the Builder defense. The drive was capped off with a Jose Mendoza, junior fullback, six-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven.
After an impressive 41-yard field goal by Southwestern’s Austin Ledy, sophomore kicker, OPSU scored again off of a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Lauchland, junior quarterback, to Doug Williams, senior wide receiver, to give the Aggies the lead with 2:58 left in the first quarter.
Ledy connected on a 30-yard field goal on the Builders next possession to cap off a high-scoring first quarter with the Aggies in front 14-13.
It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that either team scored again. Michael Coppock, senior running back, broke a big play for the Builders as he outran everyone on his way to a 41-yard rushing touchdown. Coppock finished the game with 19 carries for 160 yards.
OPSU drove inside the Builder 10-yard line with less than a minute to go in the half. Zak Tazkargy, junior linebacker, came up big for the Builder defense on fourth down as he sacked Lauchland, allowing the Builders to go into the locker rooms at halftime with a 20-14 lead.
Whatever momentum the Builders had at halftime vanished quickly as the Aggies’s Steve Olopo, junior wide receiver, took the second half kickoff 90 yards to the house. The extra point attempt by OPSU was no good and the game remained knotted up at 20.
The Aggies continued their second half success as Lauchland threw his second touchdown pass of the night with 10:27 remaining in the third quarter. This time it was a 40-yard strike to Tyler Northcutt, junior wide receiver. OPSU failed on their ensuing two-point conversion attempt to make the score 26-20 Aggies.
After allowing OPSU to score 12 unanswered points, the Builders got back in the game on the following possession. Jordan Barrett, sophomore quarterback, connected on a deep, 36-yard, touchdown pass to Cody Melby, junior wide receiver. Ledy’s extra point gave the Builders the lead 27-26 with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Lauchland scored from one-yard out to regain the lead for the Aggies with little time remaining in the third. Another failed two-point conversion attempt left the score at 32-27 in favor of OPSU.
With a steady dose of their running game, combined with missed opportunities by the Builders, the Aggies were able to hold off the Builders in a scoreless fourth quarter.
Time of possession was huge in the game as OPSU ran 90 offensive plays compared to the Builders 45. The Aggies also outgained the Builders in first downs 32-13.
Southwestern did a good job of keeping up with their opponent offensively despite running half of the plays. The Builders gained an average of 6.2 yards per play compared to the Aggies 5.6. Thanks to Coppock, they also averaged 8.0 yards per play on the ground.
Barrett completed 12 of 25 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two costly interceptions.
Jeff Schaefer, senior wide receiver, led the Builders in receiving as he grabbed five balls for 42 yards.
Tazkargy had 10 solo tackles on the defensive side of the ball and two sacks.
The Builders next football game is on Sept. 11 at Sterling College. The kickoff is at 6 p.m.
Clinton Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.