Tigers roll to third straight 'W'
By CONOR NICHOLL
In nearly two decades of playing and coaching in the MIAA, coach Chris Brown has developed an axiom: the more physical team usually wins. Brown wants a team that flies to the ball, makes big stops, creates turnovers and plays hard.
During the last three weeks, Fort Hays State University has continued to improve its physicality. On Saturday, the Tiger defense forced five turnovers, including a 94-yard fumble recovery from junior Michael Terry, a 40-yard TD interception return by junior Nathan Lindsey and a 38-yard pick-six by senior Shane Smith.
The big plays led to a 56-14 win against Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University at Lewis Field Stadium.
"There are some big, strong powerful teams out there, and we are starting to get there," Brown, in his third season at FHSU, said. "I'm stressing every day in practice, every play, 'Get off the ball, get off the ball,' and power and strength and finishing -- and I thought we did that today."
It marked the most points by the Tigers since a 58-27 victory against Fort Lewis on Oct. 12, 2002. Fort Hays moved to 3-4, 2-4 MIAA and won three in a row for the second time in the team's eight-year MIAA era.
"Really confident," Nathan Lindsey said. "We are playing disciplined football, we are making plays. Our defense, when we smell blood, we go get it."
The win was the biggest margin of victory in a conference game in the school's eight-year MIAA era. The two defensive scores were one more than FHSU had from 2009 through last week.
"We were just flying to the ball," Terry said. "Like Coach say, 'Have fun out there and do your job.' "
In addition, junior Daniel Lindsey returned a kickoff 88 yards to set up a late score. Fort Hays hasn't returned a kickoff for a TD since '09.
Saturday was the second game back for the Lindsey brothers after they served a three-game team-issued suspension for their second drug arrest in the last three months.
"This season has been good," Nathan Lindsey said. "I had a setback, my decision-making, I wasn't making the right decisions, and Coach challenged me to do the right things and showing that I want to be here. I did. I love my teammates. These guys are my family here, my brothers."
Sophomore quarterback Treveon Albert suffered a hip pointer injury with 5 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half. Brown said Albert should be able to play next week.
Albert was 7 of 10 passing for 107 yards and two scores and rushed for 60 yards and a 41-yard TD. Sophomore Edin Kovac completed 5 of 6 passes for 51 yards; Kovac has now completed 17 of 23 (74 percent) of his passes this season.
"He is obviously a runner, he is real athletic," Kovac said. "When that happens, guys get injured. I am just on the sidelines, just getting ready, just always getting prepared."
Fort Hays led 21-7 at the end of the first quarter and kept the same score at halftime. Early in the third quarter, SBU had fourth and goal from the Tiger 1-yard line, but sophomore Johnny Hubbard forced a fumble off SBU junior running back ViaVia Manuma.
The ball broke free of the pile and Terry picked up the ball and had no one in front of him. Terry nearly had the longest fumble return for a TD in Tiger annals.
On the next play, senior running back Andre Smith rushed in from three yards out.
"He looked like he was trying to reach for it, and then when it came out, it bounced off one of their players, and that's when it hit the ground," Terry said. "It was getting bounced around a little bit before I picked it up."
Terry finished with team-high and career-best 16 tackles, part of a unit that had eight tackles for loss, three sacks and three pass breakups.
In the last three weeks, FHSU has allowed 15 points per game after it allowed 49.5 the first four games. Fort Hays is plus-6 in turnover margin with 12 turnovers created in the three wins.
"I have just been really working to try to make coach proud," Terry said. "The whole defense, we've just been stepping it up. We have been talking about we need to bounce back from the first four games. We've been talking about how we need to get onto a streak, come out there physical."
Fort Hays moved the game to 35-7 on an 11-yard run from junior Edward Smith with 1:43 left in the third quarter. With 7:38 remaining in the game, Nathan Lindsey read SBU freshman quarterback Joey Dominiguez and picked off the pass.
Dominiguez threw three interceptions after junior starter Willie Tindal had a hand injury last week. The play came off a quick hitch, a route the coaches scouted during the week and Lindsey anticipated.
"I dropped in my flats, I looked back, I saw him throw it, and I broke on the ball," Lindsey said. "(Turnovers) that's phenomenal for the defense, that's something that we should have been doing in Week 1, but, hey, I am just glad we are doing it now."
Fort Hays 56, SW Baptist 14
Game in figures
First downs 18 20
Rushes-yards 39-97 42-234
Passing 25-39-3 13-17-0
Passing yards 239 164
Total plays-yards 78-336 59-398
Penalties 1 3
Punts-avg 7-39.3 3-35.3
SBU (1-6) 7 0 0 7 -- 14
FHSU (3-4) 21 0 14 21 -- 56
F -- Callins 9 pass form Albert (O'Brien kick).
S -- Gross 6 pass from Dominguez (Colliver kick).
F -- Albert 41 run (O'Brien kick).
F -- WIlliams 51 pass from Albert (O'Brien kick).
F -- A. Smith 3 run (O'Brien kick).
F -- E. Smith 11 run (O'Brien kick).
F -- N. Lindsey 40 int return (O'Brien kick).
S -- Lauderdale 53 pass from Dominguez (Colliver kick).
F -- E. Smith 10 run (O'Brien kick).
F -- SMith 38 int. return (O'Brien kick).
S -- Manuma 8-27, McWright 10-28, Gross 3-11, Swortwood 4-16, Dominguez 7-3, Ross 1-2, Nolan 5-17.
F -- E. smith 12-71, A> Smith 19-80, Williams 3-34, Albert 5-60, Kovac 1-(-9).
S -- Swortwood, 5-9-0, 39 yards; Dominguez, 20-30-3, 200 yards.
F -- Albert, 7-10-0, 107 yards; Kovac, 6-7-0, 57 yards.
S -- Lauderdale 9-113, Gross 5-28, Paredes 1-12, Sohn 3-38, Nolan 6-38, Ray 1-11.
F -- E. Smith 2-24, A. Smith 2-5, Williams 1-51, Callins 5-59, Hageman 1-12, Musil 2-13.