Tiger offense has big day in win
By CONOR NICHOLL
Seven players scored touchdowns for the Fort Hays State University football team, including two apiece by senior wide receiver Keaton Callins and senior running back Andre Smith.
Callins also returned a punt 60 yards for a TD, the first special teams return by FHSU since C.J. Lovett in Week 4 of the 2009 season.
Junior wide receiver Ed Williams hauled in a 79-yard score, the longest since O.J. Murdock in Week 2 of 2010. Fort Hays forced four turnovers and had several short fields, which also helped the offense.
The multiple aspects helped the Tigers set a school record for points against a collegiate team in a 63-17 non-conference victory against South Dakota School of Mines on Saturday at Lewis Field Stadium. FHSU broke the previous mark of 62 points set against Mesa State College on Oct. 14, 1995 and versus Wayne State College on Sept. 12, 1997.
"It was great," Smith said. "We came together, and we played as a team, which showed with everybody touching the end zone pretty much. It's always fun when you are scoring and winning."
Fort Hays won its fifth straight contest, finished 2-0 versus its non-conference schedule and improved to 5-4. Mines dropped to 5-4. FHSU finished with 537 yards of total offense and sophomore quarterback Treveon Albert delivered another fine game with 11 of 20 passing for 247 yards and two TDs, and five rushes for 42 yards with a 27 yard scoring run.
"We have got a lot of young kids that are really starting to figure out what we are doing," third-year coach Chris Brown said. " A lot of it goes to your quarterback. If your quarterback is hot and doing things well, your offense is going to be hot."
Brown called Callins, hurt for most of last season, the team's biggest improvement from 2012.
Callins caught six balls for career-high 109 yards and a TD, his fourth straight game with a score. Callins again made several nice catches, including a 20-yard TD from Albert.
"He can make tremendous plays," Brown said. "He knows where he needs to be at all times."
Multiple times, Callins has used little moves or nudges to gain separation, tricks he has picked up from wideout coach Al McCray.
"Watching NFL Network channel helps a lot, too," Callins said.
Callins, in his third season as a wideout, worked with Albert through the summer, lost a little weight to help his knees, and learned from former Tiger standouts Murdock and Cordarol Scales, now in California. Callins and Scales still talk daily.
"Just seeing (Scales) and learning from the best just helps a lot," Callins said.
Fort Hays has tallied 56, 45, and 63 points the last three weeks. In Albert's eyes, the offensive turnaround started in Week 3 against Northwest Missouri State University, currently No. 2 nationally. FHSU tallied 365 yards, but had three turnovers. Albert knew if Fort Hays could move the ball against Northwest, it could do it against anyone.
"That's what we preach every single day is just putting up points every single drive," Albert said. "We have got better week by week."
Fort Hays led 21-3 after the first quarter, 28-10 at halftime and then delivered 14 and 21 points in the final two quarters. Callins had the game's first score at the 9 minute and 22 second mark of the first quarter on his punt return. During the week, FHSU put in a new middle return because teams had gotten used to the Tigers going left or right. Callins made several Hardrockers miss in the first 15 yards and then had wide open space.
"As he kicked it, last week, I had that drop (against Lincoln)," Callins said. "So that was kind of going through my mind. I had seen a guy coming and I was like, 'I am going to catch this.' After the first guy missed, I saw two guys and then had I made them miss. From a great block from my punt (return) team, I just had a nice seam."
Fort Hays moved the score to 14-3 off on an 11-yard Smith run that came after an 81-yard kickoff return by freshman DeAndre James. James had been sick the last couple weeks and was ill on the sideline after the play.
FHSU bumped it to 21-3 when Williams hauled in a perfect deep ball from Albert, broke a tackle and scored.
With the score 42-17 after three quarters, freshman Kenneth Iheme (38 yard run), sophomore tight end Zack Gaughan (10-yard pass) and freshman Evan Jennings (34-yard pass) scored in the fourth.
"All of those guys did a very good job," Brown said.