CONWAY, Ark – The Southwestern University football team scored 16 unanswered points to erase an early deficit on the road Saturday before falling to Hendrix College 48-29 in a battle of first-year programs.
After spotting the Warriors (2-1) a 14-0 lead the Pirates (0-4) were able to get on the scoreboard when Laith Tucker connected on an 18-yard field goal. The field goal from Tucker sparked life into Southwestern as they responded quickly after a Brandon Hudson interception ended a Hendrix drive.
Taking over near midfield the Pirates were able to quickly drive before halftime and cut the lead to one score. Dante Smith found Colten Shea for an 18-yard touchdown pulling the Pirates to 14-9 at intermission.
Shea battled double teams all afternoon, but fought off defenders to finish with 13 catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns. His three scores was one shy of tying a SCAC record as his 13 catches were also four catches away from a conference record.
Southwestern quickly used the momentum coming out of the locker room as the defense halted Hendrix on their first drive.
The Pirates held the Warriors to a three-and-out punt giving Southwestern the ball inside Hendrix territory. Help from the defensive line forced pressure on the Warriors all afternoon as the league leader in sacks, Justin Broussard, added a half sack with Nick Mask and 1.5 tackles for a loss combined.
Hendrix would answer right back however, with a quick 6-play 56-yard drive that was capped off by a Dayton Winn 3-yard plunge. The Warrior rushing attack was impressive finishing with 221 yards on the ground.
Both teams would trade possessions before Hendrix broke open the game on Winn's second touchdown carry of the day with 12:43 left in the game. Winn finished with 116 yards on 23 carries while the Hendrix quarterback, Seth Peters carried 11 times for 108 yards.
Southwestern continued to battle as the Pirates would again answer with a score of their own.
A defining trait for the Pirates all season has been heart and the determination to battle back. That was exactly what helped Southwestern keep the game close in the second half on Saturday.
Shea and Taylor Stephens continued to fighting for extra yards as the Pirate signal caller found both receivers for big gains. Stephens would close the 10 play drive catching a 2-yard touchdown pass from Smith on a roll out with 8:08 left in the game.
However, the Warriors proved too much for the Pirates as Peters drove Hendrix for his third touchdown pass of the day.
Hendrix added another late score after a blocked punt gave the Warriors the ball back inside the Pirate 5-yard line.
Southwestern would slice through the Warrior secondary on their final drive showing resilience late in the game. The Pirates proved they were able to move the ball through the air with ease most of the afternoon.
Austin Rainer found Shea from 20-yards out for his third touchdown to bring the final score to 48-29. Rainer finished 5-of-12 for 75 yards while Smith was 28-of-47 passing for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
Nine different receivers recorded a catch as Southwestern was able to throw for 357 yards in the loss, a season-high.
Southwestern continues its road swing heading to Austin College next Saturday. The meeting will be the first of two with the Kangaroos and will not count in the conference standings. Both teams will be looking for their first win of 2013 as kickoff is set for 1 p.m.