SHERMAN, Texas - There has been a true change in the air with the Sewanee football program, and in its first three weeks of the 2017 season, they have ended not one, but two separate losing skids this season, as the Tigers defeated Austin College, 29-17, on Saturday afternoon from Apple Stadium to open Southern Athletic Association (SAA) play.
After Austin College punted the ball to start the game, Sewanee started the contest from their own 38 yard line. After a 28-yard pass from Alex Darras to Warren Holland to get the ball in Kangaroos territory, AC's defense held their ground and forced the Tigers to make a decision at the Austin 34-yard-line. Michael Jacobs attempted a 51-yard field goal, but he was unable to split the uprights as the ball went wide right.
Austin College (2-1, 0-1) then charged down the field and recorded the first score of the contest on a Drew Bicknell two-yard touchdown run.
After a Tigers (2-1, 1-0) punt on their next possession, the Purple and Gold brought out their inner defense from Week 1 when they recorded five interceptions. Freshman William Phillips earned his second pick of the year with a 34-yard return to the Austin 41.
Jacobs' point-after-attempt was blocked, and Austin College's TJ Melontree ran the ball all the way back for a safety to make it 9-6.
With 11:26 left in the first half, Sewanee had a quick possession thanks to a lost fumble by Sam Hearn. It was recovered by AC Mason Binder of the Kangaroos and the Tigers 48-yard-line.
The 'Roos used a nine-play drive that took 3:42 off the clock, but at the Sewanee 17, the Tigers picked off the opposing quarterback again, this time, John Cleveland caught the pass in the endzone and ran it 31 yards.
After that, each team was forced to punt the football, and the Tigers had the football with 3:09 left in the half looking to strike before intermission. Darras used a 26-yard rush, followed by a 19-yard pass to Calid Shorter and Allan Puri's 23-yard touchdown reception to give the Purple and Gold the lead for good, 13-9, as the teams headed into the locker room.
Sewanee started the second half with the ball, and they cashed it in effectively. The Purple and Gold used a 10-play, 75-yard drive thanks to a Holland one-yard touchdown run to make it 20-9 with 11:24 remaining in the third stanza.
AC would respond, however, on their next possession, using a 46-yard field goal by Cesar Ruiz to make it a one-score contest, 20-12 with 8:19 left in the third.
On the next drive, the Kangaroos defense recorded a fumble, and their offense turned it into points. With the 'Roos starting at the Sewanee 26 yard line, the Tigers defense held tough, including three stops inside their own goal line. With a fourth and goal play, the 'Roos played it safe and Ruiz chipped in an 18-yard field goal to make it a five-point Sewanee lead with 3:11 left in the third.
On the next possession, the Tigers were able to get the lead back to eight points thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Jacobs. The Tigers led, 23-15, heading into the fourth quarter.
With 10:39 left in the game, after a Wesley Porter interception, the Tigers played fourth quarter offense, going on a 15-play, 72-yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock. The drive led to a touchdown by Holland, a one-yard run, but Jacobs' point-after-attempt was blocked again and it was returned by Austin College for a safety, again. However, it would not be enough as the Tigers outlast the 'Roos, 29-17.
Darras, who spent most of the playing time under center for Sewanee, went 15-for-23 for 215 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball eight times for 33 yards.
Puri, Holland and Micah Maes each caught three of Darras' passes, with Puri leading the way with 63 receiving yards and a score.
Holland led the running game for Sewanee, carrying the ball 24 times for 92 yards and three touchdowns.
Glenn Ireland, Cleveland and Porter each picked off the Austin College quarterbacks once, while Phillips found the football twice in the secondary.
Pierce Johnson recorded a game-high 12 tackles, 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for a loss.
As a team, the Tigers mustered 400 yards of total offense, 160 on the ground, to the 'Roos 174, 55 on the ground.
With the win, the Purple and Gold now trail the 'Roos in the season series, 14-12, winning the last three meetings.
In Week 1, the Tigers snapped a 19-game overall losing streak, but on Saturday, they ended another streak. A 17-game SAA losing streak was erased with the win. Their last win in conference play came on November 8, 2014, when Sewanee defeated Berry, 31-26.
The Tigers wrap up the three-game road swing with a trip to Jackson, Miss. to take on MIllsaps. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. next Saturday from Harper-Davis Field.