(Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Seamus Robins, a 'Nova alum in Texas who drove down for the game. I asked him to detail the experience and the game, and lucky for us he obliged. Thanks again Seamus!)
Not sure what I expected when we arrived at SFA, but was amazed at the SFA turnout and enthusiasm. This is TX and we do take our football pretty seriously. The stadium was packed and the SFA fans were pretty excited and rowdy from the start. The SFA crowd was pretty solid and involved all game. We managed to walk down and sit in the section for the Nova players. Mind you this is FCS football where it was GA seats for $10.
Probably 60 nova fans in our section. Couldn't have been more than 3 times that in the stadium. Not a good sign for those pushing the desire to BCS level play.
Game started and Novas offense rolled down to the SFA 40 before stalling. Nova punted and SFA proved they belonged in the playoffs as they carved big chunks of yards on the way to the first score of the game.
Nova bounced back, needing two 4th down conversions to knot the score. SFA got the ball back and again torched the defense as they moved down the field. A second 1 yard TD run and SFA was up 14-7. Villanova fumbled the ensuing kick off return. SFA promptly turned that into another 7 points as Novas d had no answer for the SFA offense. End of the 1st quarter and it is looking pretty dismal for Nova as the defense was not looking good.
Nova went three and out, but SFA muffed the punt and Nova recovered the punt! Nova drove the remaining yards and Whitney converted a beautiful pass to bring Nova to 21-14. The muffed punt turned out to be a massive turning point as Nova would outscore SFA 40-3 the rest of the way. The defense came to life forcing 6 turnovers and one amazing goal line stand. In an amazing five minute span Nova kicked a field goal, intercepted SFA, turned a fake field goal into a TD, forced it's first 3 and out, scored on the next drive, recovered a fumble, and kicked a field goal to end the half. Most amazing 5 minutes I've seen in a football game.
Nova goes into half riding a huge wave of momentum. The crowd was noticeable quieter, but with Nova up only 10 and SFA having rung up 21 in the first qtr I didn't think we should get comfortable. To start the half SFA drove down into Nova territory with the normal large chunks of yards. With SFA on the Nova 18 Kirkland stepped in front of the pass and saved the D. Nova had a short drive and punted to SFA. SFA drove the the Nova to the 3 yard line. Nova then had a fantastic goal line stand as SFA gained 1 yard on the next 4 plays! Huge for the defense. Nova then went 99 yards for the TD. The score being a beautiful deep ball on 3rd and 10 to Szczur who out ran the defense. Game over at this point. SFA pressed for the rest of the half with the opportunistic D forcing another 3 turnovers that turned into 13 more points. The stadium emptied pretty quick except for our little contingent.
Our defense used a bend but don't break philosophy, but it was hard to tell from our vantage point if they made any adjustments from first qtr to 2nd. Still felt like receivers were fairly open, but SFA was killed by the turnovers and that pretty much sealed the game. SFA employs the envouge 'hurry up' offense and that may have worn the cats defense down. The offense looked great. Pretty much torched a very good opponent. Think Andy Talley made a huge call to knot the game at 24 with the fake field goal. I think the holder came within a couple of yards of being nailed for the loss, but a huge play that brought Nova back after being down 14 in the 1st quarter.
Overall, impressive win for Nova. A veteran team that didn't panic on the road after being down early. I think if the D tightens up, we will be in great shape.