UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. – The 2021 football season for Saginaw Valley State University opened under the lights against Texas A&M-Kingsville, in front of a large crowd of Cardinal supporters at Wickes Stadium on Saturday.
The Cardinals returned to the field after nearly two years and battled the Javelinas right to the end, with the SVSU defense making one of several key stops in the closing seconds to preserve a 13-9 victory.
The intensity was high on both sides of the ball, but both teams found scoring hard to come by, with several drives stalling out in the red zone or on turnovers at costly moments.
On the opening drive of the game, TAMK controlled the clock, marching 59 yards on 12 plays, but the Cardinals (1-0) stopped the Javelinas on fourth down when Shane Johnson's pass to Josh McGowen went for eights yards and not the nine needed for a first.
After a Connor Luksic punt pinned TAMK at its own 1-yard line, the Cardinals forced a fumble two plays later and were set up to take an early lead. The Cardinals pushed the ball inside the one but were stopped before crossing the line, turning the ball back over to the Javelinas.
The next 7:27 was erased from the clock as TAMK slowly marched down the field, going 99 yards on 16 plays, capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown run from McGowan. The extra point sailed wide and the visitors took a 6-0 lead.
SVSU went three-and-out on its next possession and TAMK added a field goal with four minutes to play in the first half to go up 9-0. Casey Williams took over on the next SVSU drive, catching two 19-yard passes from new Cardinal quarterback Matt Considine, setting up Tommy Scott for the first score of the night for the home team. Scott rushed it in from 10-yards out to put SVSU on the board and send his team to the half down just 9-7.
Neither team was able to make a dent in the scoreboard in the third quarter, but SVSU took its first lead of the contest early in the fourth when Luksic hit a 31-yard field goal to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive, making it 10-9 in favor of the Cardinals.
After Luksic connected again from 22 yards out with under eight minutes to play to put the Cardinals up 13-9, the Javelinas had one last opportunity to escape with a win. TAMK was able to methodically march down the field and had a first and goal from the 2-yard line with under two minutes to play, but the SVSU defense took over from there.
McGowen moved it to the one on first down and was stuffed for a two-yard loss on second down. The Cardinal pass rush and secondary forced two straight incompletions for TAMK and the Cardinals lined up in victory formation to secure the win.
Inside the Box Score:
- Tommy Scott finished with 12 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown.
- Casey Williams led the SVSU receivers with 11 catches for 162 yards, with a long of 27.
- Matt Considine went 18-of-33 passing for 236 yards with two interceptions in his SVSU debut under center.
- Trevor Nowaske led the defense with 14 total tackles, including nine solo and two for loss.
- Alfred Dailey Jr. had nine tackles and a forced fumble.
- Javarree Jackson was all over the field, recording five tackles, including a half-sack, and he recovered a fumble.
- Nick Whiteside picked off a pass and returned it 22 yards. He added three tackles and a pass breakup.
- The Cardinals narrowly outgained the Javelinas, 326 (236 passing, 90 rushing) to 313 (138 passing, 175 rushing)
- TAMK led the time of possession with 35:02.
SVSU will travel to Bowie State University for week two. The kickoff is set for 1 pm in Bowie, Md.