ABILENE, Texas - For the second time this season, the Southwestern University football team took a top five nationally ranked team in their own conference, and despite going toe-to-toe with the No. 5 ranked Hardin-Simmons Cowboys, the Pirates fell just short, 21-7, on Saturday afternoon at Shelton Stadium.
Southwestern outgained the Cowboys, 374-349, including 248 yards on the ground. Southwestern dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for 36:10 in the contest and running 22 more plays than the Cowboys.
However, the Pirates could not cash in on opportunities which eventually cost them a chance in the game.
Southwestern opened the game with possession and used a slow, methodical pace, going 55 yards in 13 plays and taking over five minutes off the clock. However, Southwestern could not put any points on the board as a field goal hit off the upright to keep the game scoreless.
The high powered Hardin-Simmons offense went to work, getting inside the Pirates 10 before the drive stalled out. However, what looked like a botched snap on a field goal try resulted in points for Hardin-Simmons as Colten Kent, the holder, scampered right up the middle for a score and a 7-0 lead.
The two teams exchanged the next two possessions going into the second quarter as Southwestern took over on their own one yard line with 9:07 to go. From there, the Pirates put together a masterful 16 play, 99 yard drive that took 8:44 off the clock and 15 of 16 plays coming on the ground.
Eventually, sophomore Frederick Hover would run it in from two yards out with 23 seconds remaining in the quarter to tie it at seven going into halftime.
Hardin-Simmons had an answer to start the second half as they went 69 yards in seven plays to open the half as a eight yard Reese Childress touchdown catch from Landry Turner put the Cowboys back on top 14-7.
The Southwestern Pirate offense went to work again, going on an 11 play, 42 yard drive into Cowboy territory, but had nothing to show for as they eventually punted, just out of field goal range. The Southwestern defense stepped up thanks in part to a sack from sophomore Hayden Smith and got the ball back again, starting a drive that would go into the fourth quarter.
An 11 play, 46 yard drive set up another field goal attempt, but it was deja vu for Southwestern as, again, the ball clanked off the upright and the score remained 14-7 early in the fourth.
The Pirates defense forced a three and out and Southwestern drove into HSU territory again, but a holding penalty negated the drive and eventually resulted in a punt.
This time, Hardin-Simmons played clock management, putting together a 12 play, 65 yard drive to the SU 26 yard line. The Cowboys elected to go for it on 4th-and-2 to try an ice the game, but sophomore Garrett Womack blew up the play for the turnover on downs with 4:25 to play.
However, the Southwestern could never get going on the final drive as it was a turnover on downs in their own territory to give HSU the ball back. The Cowboys took advantage and iced the game away as Woody Watson caught a four yard score from Turner to make it 21-7 and escape Homecoming with a win.
Hover rushed 28 times for 126 yards and a score and was also 12 of 24 for 126 on the afternoon. Junior Markell Henderson rushed eight times for 56 yards while freshman David Brandenburg carried three times for 52 yards. Freshman Elijah Smith caught five balls for 63 yards while freshman Jaxon Borowski also had five catches for 54 yards.
Hardin-Simmons was led by Turner who finished 15 of 22 for 222 yards and two scores while Jaquan Hemphill rushed 18 times for 90 yards. Devonte' Walker caught three passes for 92 yards.
Defensively, Smith led the way with 10 tackles and a sack while senior Preston Bass racked up seven tackles. Senior Nik Kelly, senior Joshua Scoggin, and freshman Ben Brockman all had five tackles to go with a tackle for loss. Sophomore Josiah Minnifield had two pass breakups.
For the Cowboys, Josh White led the way with 14 tackles and two tackles for loss while Matthew Hawkins had 10 tackles and an interception.
Southwestern moves to 4-4 overall and 4-3 in ASC play. They return home next Saturday for Homecoming as well as Senior Day as they welcome in the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets in their home finale beginning at 1 PM.