TLU sophomore Ian Leslie ran for a career-high 167 yards in Saturday's road win over Sul Ross State. Photo by Ambyr Fisher.
(Alpine) - Texas Lutheran nearly broke a 43-year-old school record for rushing yards in a game by running for 466 yards on 61 carries in a 40-14 conference road win Saturday at Sul Ross State.
The Bulldogs threatened the university's all-time mark for rushing yards in a game. That mark was set by the 1974 team that went on to win the NAIA-II National Championship. The Bulldogs of 1974 rushed for 475 yards in a win over Austin College.
At Sul Ross State's Jackson Field, TLU rushed for 219 yards in the first half and for 247 yards in the second.
TLU sophomore Ian Leslie rushed for a career-best 167 yards and had a rushing TD of two yards in the fourth quarter. Leslie had 121 rushing yards in the second half.
For the game, Leslie carried the ball 21 times and averaged eight yards per carry.
The Bulldogs averaged 7.6 yards per carry and scored three rushing touchdowns. In addition to Leslie's scoring run, the Bulldogs produced a 65-yard TD scamper from Jordan Braden and a 1-yard plunge from quarterback Kyle Grona.
Braden rushed for 99 yards and a score, and Grona added 75 yards and a score. Christopher Monroe and Austin Mathews tallied 56 and 43, respectively.
The Bulldogs scored 33 unanswered points to collect their fourth consecutive road win and fifth win of the last six games.
TLU trailed 14-7 midway through the first quarter, but the Bulldogs put together a pair of scoring drives - one late in the first quarter and another midway through the second - to take a 21-14 lead into halftime.
After Braden's touchdown run put the Bulldogs on the board in the opening quarter, TLU picked up a Reggie Jackson 14-yard scoring grab and a Jekovan Holmes five-yard receiving TD to register the seven-point advantage at the half.
A year removed from going 2-8 overall, the Bulldogs improved to 6-3 overall and to 6-2 in the American Southwest Conference under first-year head coach Carl Gustafson. The Bulldogs now have four winning seasons in the last five years.
Sul Ross State dropped to 4-5 overall and to 3-5 in the ASC.
TLU capped off the scoring with an Emory Cuzze tackle for a safety and a Tyler Hopkins 28-yard field goal.
The TLU Defense held Sul Ross to 324 total yards and to only 115 yards in the second half.
Sul Ross went 3-for-11 on third down and 0-for-1 on fourth down.
The Bulldogs held the ball 35 minutes, 49 seconds and had 11:24 of possession in the fourth quarter.
James Bell (Houston/Lamar) picked off his sixth pass of the season, and Manny Longoria (Geronimo/Navarro) pushed his sack total to 8.5 with a sack for seven yards.
Bell led TLU with eight total tackles. Cuzze added six tackles - all solo. Adairius Norwood added four tackles and two tackles for loss.
The Bulldogs can finish in third place in the American Southwest Conference with a victory next Saturday against Southwestern University. A third-place finish will equal TLU's best-ever finish in the ASC - the league in which TLU played from 1998 to 2012.
The Bulldogs were in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in football and all other sports from 2013 to 2016. All TLU sports but football remain in the SCAC. TLU won SCAC Football Championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and went to the NCAA Division III playoffs in 2014.
Kickoff against fellow former SCAC football program Southwestern is set for 1 p.m. Saturday in TLU's Bulldog Stadium. TLU will have live video, radio and live stats available on tlubulldogs.com. KWED 1580 AM will have Mike McBride and Keith Sullivan on the call. The Bulldogs will celebrate Senior Day against the Pirates.