Early turnovers could not keep the Keiser University football team from defeating visiting Edward Waters College 27-23 in a come-from-behind victory on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The Tigers got on the board first on a three-yard bootleg play to go up 6-0 late in the first quarter. While the Seahawk offense struggled, going three and out, the Tigers notched another score, on a 25-yard field goal, to extend the lead to 9-0 in the second quarter.
Keiser responded on the ensuing possession. Quarterback Eli Mathews hooked up with receiver Jamal Polk on a 32-yard touchdown pass. Logan Robinson’s kick helped the Seahawks narrow the margin to 9-7. Keiser’s special teams then capitalized on a Tiger punt miscue. Jamarquios Autry returned the fumble 47 yards to make it 14-9.
Seahawk running back Tyrese Lyons added to the Keiser lead when he sprinted 38 yards for the end zone with 3:38 remaining in the half to bring the score to 20-9. Interceptions from Seahawk defensive backs Troy Sloan and Sage Chen-Young helped secure the Keiser lead at the half.
Chen-Young notched his second pick of the game early in the second half to continue the Keiser momentum, which was short-lived. A stingy Tiger defense stripped the ball from the Keiser running back to return it 92 yards for the touchdown to close the gap to 20-16 in the third quarter. Just two plays into the Seahawk offensive series, a second turnover proved costly. The Tiger defense stripped the ball to gain possession inside the red zone, which set up a 2-yard touchdown run to reclaim the lead for the Tigers 23-20.
Running back Marques Burgess collected some of the lost momentum for the Seahawks when he sprinted 68 yards with 1:23 left to play to put his offense in position to retake the lead. Mathews faked an inside handoff that grabbed the attention of the entire Tiger defense, as he rolled left, untouched into the end zone.
“We knew we had to score, whether it was a field goal to tie the game or a touchdown to end it,” Mathews said. “We just knew that we play best when we play fast, and that’s what we did.”
The Seahawk defense went to work and helped seal the 27-23 win. “It was so ugly in the second half,” Keiser head coach Doug Socha said. “It’s a testament to fighting and believing, and we got that last chance with the football. We break off a big run, and we execute in the red zone. We’ll take the win, but there’s a lot of work to do.”
Wellington High School grad Chen-Young is credited with two interceptions for the defense. “We had the line getting there, making it easy for the back end to make plays like that,” he said. “I’ve never had two picks in a game, so it felt pretty good.”
Keiser is 3-2 and 1-0 in conference play. The team will be on the road this Saturday in another conference game against Faulkner University in Alabama. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.