SHERMAN, Texas - The Austin College football team dropped its season opener to Howard Payne 48-34 on Saturday afternoon in Jerry Apple Stadium, as the Yellow Jackets used a 21-point second quarter to open things up and the 'Roos were unable to make up the difference.
Howard Payne struck quickly in the opening quarter, getting a 60-yard pass from Caleb Estes to Thomas Williams to cap off a five play, 80-yard drive and make it 7-0. The 'Roos didn't waste much time evening things up, however, with Sharun Jones setting up a short field with a 45-yard kick return and Evan Powell scoring from 10 yards out two plays later.
The score remained 7-7 until late in the opening quarter, when the Yellow Jackets got a four-yard touchdown run from Kaidrion Latson. Austin College's Segun Adekunle blocked the point after, keeping the score 13-7 with a minute left in the first. Austin College countered early in the second quarter, with Evan Powell taking it 26 yards to the house, making it 13-13 after the point after missed.
However, the Yellow Jackets would answer with 21 straight points to close out the half, starting with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Estes to Jake Parker with nine minutes on the clock. Estes would toss two more touchdowns in the quarter, with one going to Jordan Bryant on a 38-yard connection and the other a 13-yard strike to Williams with just four seconds left in the quarter, making it a 34-13 game at the break.
Howard Payne kept the momentum going into the third quarter, with Estes keeping it himself and scoring from four yards out to make it 41-13 with 11:11 left in the frame, but Austin College answered with a two-yard touchdown run from Colt Collins to make it 41-20 heading into the fourth.
The 'Roos kept trying to chip away at the Howard Payne lead in the fourth, as Collins found Maika Brinkerhoff from 49-yards out for a touchdown to make it 41-27 just 16 seconds into the quarter, but the Yellow Jackets pushed the margin back to three touchdowns on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Estes to DunTayviun Gross with 12:22 left in the game.
Collins would find Brinkerhoff again with six minutes left, this time on a 22-yard strike to trim it to a 48-34 game, but that's as close as things would get, and Howard Payne was able to pick up two key first downs to run out the clock down the stretch.
Howard Payne finished with 524 yards of total offense, while Austin College piled up 420 yards in the loss. Collins finished the game completing 15-of-32 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and also led the 'Roos on the ground with 60 yards and another score. Powell finished with nine carries for 59 yards and two touchdowns, while Brinkerhoff finished the game with three receptions for 74 yards. For Howard Payne, Estes connected on 26-of-33 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns and added 52 yards and a score on the ground. Billy Reagins carried 14 times for 78 yards, and Williams finished with four catches for 96 yards.
Defensively, Keegan Nichols led the 'Roos with 11 stops, including three tackles-for-loss, and Drake Sanders added eight tackles and also had three for loss. Austin Killgore led the Yellow Jackets with nine tackles.
Austin College heads out on the road next Saturday when they travel to Waxahachie to take on Southwestern Assemblies of God University with kickoff set for 6:00 p.m.