GEORGETOWN, Texas – On senior day, the Southwestern University Pirates football team gathered after the game to sing its fight song one last time with the 2018 senior class, celebrating a 59-35 victory over the Texas Lutheran University (TLU) Bulldogs.
On the field, it was Pirate quarterback Frederick Hover making the offense sing, hitting all the notes on his way to generating 520 of Southwestern University's 555 yards of total offense.
"We're playing awesome on offense right now," Head Coach Joe Austin said. "It's too bad the season is over because we were just starting to hit our stride. That's a decisive score against a good team."
Hover started the game on fire, connecting on all five of his passes to five different receivers on the Pirates' game-opening possession, leading an eight-play, 70-yard drive capped off by a 17-yard Austin Castilleja touchdown run off a reverse.
On defense, Aaron Robinson set the tone. on the Bulldogs' second possession, Robinson jumped a route to intercept TLU quarterback Kyle Grona's pass, sprinting into open space for a 68-yard interception return for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Robinson finished second on the team with five tackles and broke up two other passes, leading a balanced defensive effort that forced five three-and-out possessions from the TLU offense, helping the Pirates compile a 35-14 advantage in first downs by limiting TLU to 367 yards of total offense.
The Pirates' early offensive explosion—scoring the game's first 24 points—forced TLU to abandon its run early, making the Bulldogs more one-dimensional. And on offense, Hover found no shortage of options, connecting on 30 of his 44 attempts for 443 yards and five touchdown passes.
"That was a little bit of a surprise," Hover said of his passing performance. "Usually I'm running, but it was a lot of fun spreading the ball around."
Hover dissected the TLU defense with surgical precision, hitting his tight end and slot receivers in the middle of the field to open big plays on the sideline; finding wide receiver David Brandenburg with 6:52 remaining in the first half on the sideline against one-on-one coverage. Brandenburg made a sharp turn to the inside, eluding the first tackle and beating two other defenders for the 19-yard touchdown.
Brandenburg was a devastating weapon for the Pirates' offense all day, finishing the game with 12 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns, opening up the third quarter with a 17-yard touchdown reception with an almost exact replay of his first touchdown. He also scored the Pirates' final touchdown with a 27-yard catch and run on a quick wide receiver screen; getting the decisive block from Markell Henderson.
Hover also found senior tight end AJ Daniels isolated on the sideline, with Daniels shrugging off a would-be tackle to tightrope the sideline for an 18-yard touchdown.
"It was indicative of my entire career with a lot of people contributing to my success," Daniels said. "The offensive line gave Fred time, he threw a great ball, and I was surprised to have stayed in bounds and just jogged into the end zone."
It was a great end to the collegiate athletic careers of the Pirates' 10 seniors: Cole Atteberry, Noah Berlanga, John David Bishop, Landry Bray, AJ Daniels, Markell Henderson, David-Alvin Quinton, Devin Shaw, James Smat, and Cory Vega.
"They're not a huge group but they were awesome," Austin said. "Fantastic role models, great people. They did everything the right way and I'm excited to follow their lives now that they're done with football for us."
With the win, the Pirates secured a winning record for the season and in conference, finishing 6-4 and 5-4. Texas Lutheran ends its season 7-3 and 6-3.