The rainy weather was a factor for the Howard Payne special teams as the Jackets muffed two punts in the first quarter. Both gave SAGU the ball inside HPU’s 10-yard line. SAGU settled for a 22-yard field goal by Santibenez on the first possession and got a TD on a 2-yard pass from Quentin Coleman to Calvin Torbert.
With SAGU leading 0-10, HPU got on the scoreboard with a Mitchell Bailey 39-yard field goal with :10 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Tre Mason scored his first of two touchdowns at the 10 minute mark in the second on a 65-yard pass from Zach Hubbard.
Now a 10-10 tie the Jackets scored again with 3:44 remaining in the second quarter on a 15-yard run by Mason. 17-10 HPU.
Howard Payne buckled down and was able to hold SAGU scoreless for the second, third, and most of the fourth quarter. Mitchell Bailey continued to add some offense hitting field goals 26 yards with 2:07 left in the third and 37 yards with 6:59 left in the fourth.
SAGU made it interesting, scoring on a 20 yard pass from David Howard to Calvin Torbert, his second of the game, with 4:35 left. Both teams committed turnovers in the closing minutes, but HPU hold on to win 23-17.
Zach Howard was 24 of 42 for 323 yards, 141 of which was to wide receiver Tre Mason. Walter Pam and Brandon Young had 41 and 39 yards rushing respectively.
Kevin Reyna led HPU with 11 tackles, he also assisted on a sack. Dustin McClure had 7 tackles and Joey Lewis added 5 tackles, two for loss and 1.5 sacks.
The Jackets now stand at 1-0 on the year, while Southwestern Assemblies falls to 0-2 overall. Howard Payne will be at home next Saturday at 1:00 pm against Bacone College.