Greetings, Lion fans, and what can we say except wow. In what was expected to be a real battle between two good teams, the Lions came out and completely dominated the UT Permian Basin Falcons. It was another stifling defensive performance by the Blue Gang, and the Lion offense finally began to shake off their collective funk. Let’s break it all down.
1. BLUE GANG DOMINANCE- The Lion defense was otherworldly yet again, highlighted by 105 yard pick six by redshirt senior Ales Shillow (Officially listed at 100 yards, although Shillow picked it off five yards deep, and I promised him we at The Wire would list it at 105). The Falcons crossed into Lion territory only four times in the entire game. The Lions forced four turnovers and had 7 quarterback sacks. In the last six games the Lions have an allowed an average of 174.3 yards per game, have 28 sacks, forced 8 turnovers, and have limited opposing offenses to a third down conversion rate of 24%
2. ADAPT AND OVERCOME-The offense was sputtering early yet again, but Billy Riebock and his staff did an outstanding job of making adjustments, opening up the playbook, and sprinkling in some trickery. While not producing much in the way of explosiveness , the offense was efficient, and the self inflicted penalty woes, were limited. Miklo Smalls is returning to form, and making plays with his feet. Chance Cooper left after taking a blow to the head, and the rest of the receiving corps filled in nicely.
3. SPECIAL TEAMS EXCELLENCE-Mitchell McGarry was outstanding yet again, despite only averaging 30.5 yards per punt. McGarry had two punts downed inside the 20 yard line, and the Falcons had ZERO return yards. Jake Viquez was a perfect 5 of 5 on extra points, and 2 0f 3 field goals, including a 42 yarder. His only miss was from 52 yards out that hooked wide at the last minute. Dominique Ramsey averaged just over 13 yards per return. Overall, a solid effort
4. TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS-The Lions know well the road in front of of them, and what they need to accomplish to have a chance at the playoffs. They played with a sense of urgency that we haven’t seen before, and with a sense of intensity that permeates the entire roster.
5. CLASS, GRACE, DIGNITY-In what was an intense and hard fought game that got really chippy with multiple personal foul penalties on both sides. It turns out, according to multiple sources, that UT Permian Basin players and some coaches were more than ready with the trash talk, and there were reports that the Falcons were out to deliberately injure the knee of Miklo Smalls. Despite all this, David Bailiff and his staff were able to maintain control of the situation, and the Lions showed great restraint post game. .
Note: In the post game activities, a medical emergency occurred on the Permian Basin sideline, I was unable to see who or what happened other than sideline equipment being rapidly moved out of the way, and an ambulance arriving on the sideline. Both players and coaches showed proper respect and support. After a brief locker room meeting, Lion players returned to the field, and more than a few went over to the Permian sideline to support and comfort opponents that they had battled so intensely just earlier. It was a great show of class and sportsmanship.