SFA football will conclude the 2019 slate of home games with a matchup against the defending Southland Conference co- champion, the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Homer Bryce Stadium. In addition, it will be the 2019 SFA Football Reunion day and senior game.
The Lumberjacks’ return to Nacogdoches following a loss to Southeastern Louisiana 47-30. Despite the outcome, SFA had a season-high 471 yards of total offense with 403 passing yards and 68 rushing yards.
Incarnate Word comes in after a 27-23 home loss to nationally ranked Nicholls State.
Since their initial meeting in 2014, the Lumberjacks hold a 4-1 all-time lead against the Cardinals. Their most recent contest came in 2018 when UIW defeated SFA 31-7 in San Antonio.
The Cardinals are led by second year head coach Eric Morris. Previously the offensive coordinator for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, he comes from a coaching tree known for the famed “air raid” offense. This style of offense is being run by coaches such as Mike Leach at Washington State and Kliff Kingsbury with the Arizona Cardinals. Both have previous ties to Texas Tech.
In addition, Morris played wide receiver when Leach was the Red Raiders’ coach, and he served as coordinator under Kingsbury from 2014 to 2017 before landing the head coaching gig with UIW.
In his first season, Morris guided Incarnate Word to a 6-5 overall record after going 1-10 the year prior to his arrival. The Cardinals won a share of the SLC Championship and made a first-round appearance in the FCS playoffs. Both accomplishments were firsts for the UIW football program.
UIW ranks fourth in the SLC in total offense and return eight starters. The team is led by quarterback Jon Copeland. A sophomore from Argyle, he has thrown for 2,473 yards this season with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also holds a 60.86 completion percentage. Copeland was named to the second team All-Southland selection and SLC Freshman of the Year in 2018. In last week’s loss to Nicholls, he passed for 381 yards, which was his fifth 300-plus game this season. Junior running back Kevin Brown leads the team with 560 rushing yards on 98 attempts with two touchdowns.
The South Carolina native also adds nine receptions for 55 yards. Sophomore Ameer King is second on the team with 437 rushing yards from 85 carries and adds a touchdown. Junior Keyondrick Philio leads the team with eight rushing touchdowns and has 300 rushing yards from 66 carries.
Incarnate Word’s receiving corps features five players who have recorded over 200 yards in receiving. Leading the way is Kam Williams, a senior receiver, with 514 yards and four touchdown catches and averages 14.69 yards per catch. He is followed by redshirt senior Johnny Lamont with 382 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 26 receptions, and King, who is second on the Cardinals with 32 receptions and has 305 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Up front, the Cardinals feature three offensive linemen with preseason All-SLC selections, including seniors Brandon Floores, Terrance Hickman II and junior Uzoma Okere.
Incarnate Word’s defense leads the conference with 27 forced turnovers in 21 consecutive games.
Additionally, they return six starters.
Mar’kel Cooks, a senior linebacker, leads UIW’s multiple base defense with 61 total tackles. The Irving native also has four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and leads the team in forced fumbles with three. Aiding Cooks are sophomore linebacker Gerald Bowie III and sophomore hybrid linebacker/ defensive end Kelechi Anyalebechi. Bowie has recorded 36 tackles, and Anyalebechi leads the team with eight tackles for loss.
Along with Anyalebechi, the defensive line is anchored by Lukas Termin, Brian Lee, Chance Main and Andy Jennings. Altogether, the players have totaled 24.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.
The Cardinals’ secondary leads the league in interceptions with 16. Freshman Jaylon Jimmerson leads both the team and conference with five interceptions. The Pittsburg, Texas, native also adds 52 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup. In total, 10 players have recorded at least one interception, and the team has broken up 26 passes total.
The game will be shown on ESPN3 and can be heard on Q107.7.