Tigers riding three-game win streak
By CONOR NICHOLL
The Fort Hays State University football team defeated Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University 56-14 at home last Saturday, easily the biggest margin of victory in the three-year Chris Brown era. After the game, Brown was asked if he felt the contest was the best FHSU had played in his tenure.
Brown said the defense played well, but the offense played just three quarters with some trouble in the second.
Brown echoed similar sentiments to his team Tuesday and then at night in his weekly news conference. FHSU, rarely fumbles, fumbled and lost the ball three times; Brown believed the Tigers could have scored 21 more points.
"There are some things to work on, the turnovers especially," he said.
Fort Hays (3-4, 2-4 MIAA) has won three straight contests for the first time with Brown and the second occasion in the program's eight-year MIAA era. Junior linebacker Michael Terry collected league defensive player of the week honors after he had a team and career-high 16 tackles and returned a fumble 94 yards. At practice, Brown used Terry's award as an example and asked the team if Terry was satisfied.
"He needs to try to get it again and again each week," Brown said.
With a month left in the regular season, FHSU has an opportunity for its first winning season since 2009 and first seven-win year since 1996.
"Let's finish 7-4, end on a good note," Terry said.
Terry's fumble return was one of three big defensive plays. Junior Nathan Lindsey returned an interception 40 yards for a TD and senior Shane Smith had a 38-yard INT for a score.
It was the first time in the school's NCAA Division II history that it occurred, according to FHSU sports information research. The last time it happened in the same game for FHSU was Sept. 3, 1988 in the season opener at Western State College, a 34-yard return by Kenneth Dean and a 17-yard return by Ron Gordon.
"They played hard, they played physical, they played aggressive, they did the things that we asked them to do," Brown said. "They made plays and that's huge to see when your team is starting to feel comfortable, and they are starting to gel together and playing with some excitement and some enthusiasm."
On Saturday, Fort Hays travels to Lincoln (Mo.) University (1-6, 0-6 MIAA), a longtime bottom-feeder. Starting next season, Lincoln will remain in the MIAA for other sports, but will join the Great Lakes Valley Conference for football. Start time is 2:30 p.m. in Jefferson City, Mo. For the second straight week, FHSU has the MIAA TV Game of the Week.
Versus SBU, senior Andre Smith fumbled twice and junior Edward Smith fumbled once. All three times came in Bearcat territory, including once at SBU's 4-yard line. Brown coaches the running backs and ran multiple drills Tuesday to stress the importance of not fumbling.
"They are probably beat up pretty good from all the bags that I hit them with," Brown said with a smile.
The players run with a towel underneath the ball to make sure the ball is held close.
"You drop the towel, you have got to do pushups," Brown said. "We did a lot of strip drills today and made them understand, you can't put the ball on the ground."
Sophomore quarterback Treveon Albert is expected to play Saturday after he left Saturday's game in the second quarter with a hip pointer. Albert has suffered injuries in two contests, but Brown doesn't want the signal caller to change his running style.
"It's to the point in the season, you've got to win," Brown said. "The only way we are going to do that is if he is on the field and he is doing the things that he is doing."
Albert has completed 96 of 166 passes for 1,127 yards with 10 scores against nine interceptions. He has rushed 68 times for 381 yards and four scores. It's the second-most carries and yards on the Tigers.
"Sometimes, you take chances when you run your quarterback quite a bit, but we are in a situation now where we want to win ballgames and the only way to win ballgames is if we use his feet and use his explosiveness," Brown said. "We are going to continue to do that and hopefully we can get some other things going that we don't have to run him as much."
Lindsey twins back
Nathan Lindsey delivered his pick-six and his twin brother, junior Daniel Lindsey, had an 88-yard kickoff return Saturday. Both players have two drug offenses in the last two months and spent some time on the scout team before working their way back. On Tuesday, Nathan Lindsey had expressed his gratitude for Brown and the coaching staff.
"I am beyond grateful," he said. "I love that man, because I know that probably any other coach in the country probably would have sent me packing. I am from Detroit. It's not somewhere where I want to be.
"I love being here," he added. "I love being with my teammates. I love going out there and putting it on the line for my teammates. I appreciate everything coach has done for me."