The fifth season of college football in Belleville begins on Lindenwood University’s red- and gray-striped field Saturday.
Under second-year coach Dale Carlson, the home Lynx will face Mid-States Football Association rival Olivet Nazarene. Both teams are looking for their first win of 2016, having dropped their season openers to NAIA Top 20 teams last week.
Lindenwood-Belleville fell to No. 17 Siena Heights, 31-16.
Olivet Nazarene took a 58-14 beating at the hands of No. 4 St. Francis. Olivet Nazarene was outgained 622-238 in the outing and were held to just 93 yards on the ground, while St. Francis scrambled for 242.
The Lynx (0-1), totaled 269 yards against the Saints. However, what did them in early was a 17-0 deficit after a quarter of play. The team tried to make a late rally but ended up falling by 15.
Leading LU-Belleville through the air was quarterback Darrien Boone as he went 17-of-29 for 194 yards but tossed four interceptions.
Boone, a Chicago native also led the way on the ground with 30 rushing yards on 15 carries. Michael Aschemann, meanwhile, caught a team-high six catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
“Our team played hard for four quarters and we had a chance early in the fourth quarter,” said Carlson. “The turnovers hurt as well as some ill-timed penalties. Take away the two big pass plays and our defense played pretty well. We did a great job in the sudden change by not giving up a lot of points off the turnovers. We shut down their running game and that’s always a good thing.”
Defensively and on special teams the Lynx shined throughout the four quarters of play. Adnan Al-Amami led with a career-high 11 tackles. In his first game back since injury, Cody Sands had nine tackles, five for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble and a blocked kick. Vinton Harris though was unstoppable on the inside with seven tackles and 3.5 sacks for 23 yards.
“Special teams had some big plays blocking a punt and field goal,” stated Carlson. “However, Siena Heights’s first touchdown was off poor punt coverage that gave them the short field. We’ve worked hard on that this week. Cody, Adnan, and Vinnie Harris played very well. A
“Adnan has been such a great team player, it was great to see him have such a fine day. Both Cody and Vinnie missed last season so hopefully their play this past Saturday was a preview of the type of season they’ll both have.”
With a lot of roster turnover and some younger returning players, Carlson said last week he wished his team could have started off with a non-conference opponent. Now that the Lynx are in the season’s second week — and opening in front of the home crowd — notching a league win is extra important.
“Records don’t mean anything in the Mid-States,” said Carlson. “Any team can win on any given day. Olivet Nazarene has some excellent athletes and are capable of making big plays. They are aggressive on defense so we will have to be strong assignment wise.”
Since 2013, the Lynx are 2-1 against Olivet Nazarene (0-2), including a 24-23 comeback victory last year. With 26 seconds left in regulation, Tarean Austin found Walter Jackson for the nine yard touchdown, giving them a one point win.
THE GAME: Olivet Nazarene (0-1) at Lindenwood-Belleville, 6 p.m.
LAST MEETING: The Lynx evened their record at 1-1 in 2015 with a 24-23 win over the Tigers.
COACHES: Carlson is 115-130-1 in 28 seasons as a head coach at every level of college football from NAIA to NCAA Division I-FCS. He has twice started programs from scratch and was the National Coach of the Year in 2007. Eric Hehman is in his first year at Olivet Nazarene. He’s also been head coach at Malone University in Ohio and, more locally, at Greenville College and is 36-64 for his career.
SCOUTING LU-B: The Lynx are led by quarterback Darrien Boone, a transfer from Austin Peay University. He completed 17 of 29 passes for 186 yards last week against Siena, but was intercepted four times. He also ran 30 yards on 15 carries.
The Lynx are rich with metro-east influence. Belleville West tight end Donnie Foster opened the season with three catches for 40 yards; Dustin Hotle rushed twice for for eight yards, but figures to see expanded play; Former Althoff defensive lineman Vinton Harris was in on seven tackles, as was Mike Cotton, a linebacker from O’Fallon. Belleville East lineman Trey Parker had four tackles at Siena, including one for a loss.
SCOUTING OLIVET NAZARENE: The Tigers couldn’t get much going against St. Francis, but is deep in skilled positions.
Quarterback Jordan Lawton was 14-of-23 for 145 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target is Alvin Best who had four catches for 30 yards. Six other receivers had catches. The Tigers top running back is Ryan Stoves.
Defensively, Olivet Nazarene surrendered 622 yards of offense to St. Francis.