Southern Nazarene wraps up its football season 1 p.m. Saturday against a somewhat unusual opponent.
College of Faith of Memphis, Tenn., will be in Bethany trying to win its first game of the season — and the first in program history. Faith coach Rickey Jemison says the first-year football team is made up of second-chance athletes. And not one player sits in the classroom.
College of Faith only offers online courses in religion.
Nicknamed “Mighty Believers,” College of Faith is 0-4 and has been outscored 201-12. Jemison, who is also athletic director, scheduled teams as bad as Arkansas-Monticello to NCAA Division II power West Alabama to 2011 club team champion Chattahoochee Tech. While one bye week is coveted for rest and healing by many football teams, the Mighty Believers once went three consecutive weeks without playing.
It's been a ragtag, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants season for College of Faith.
But “if one of these guys can do something with their lives, be successful, then that's a victory,” Jemison told the Advance-Monticellonian website after his team's 78-0 loss to Arkansas-Monticello in September.
No one in the Southern Nazarene camp will admit it, but a similar result can be expected Saturday. SNU has struggled to a 1-9 record in its transition to Division II, but the Crimson Storm has been competitive in several games. SNU has too many playmakers, and coach Mike Cochran's club is dying to play in front of a home crowd. Saturday marks the last of just two home dates on the 2012 schedule.
*Oklahoma Baptist wrapped up fall football drills Nov. 3 with its third intrasquad scrimmage. The Bison offense scored just once, when quarterback Blake Woodard hit Jordan Barnes from 13 yards on the scrimmage's last play. The defense stopped four fourth-down plays, recovered two fumbles and intercepted one pass. Bison coach Chris Jensen said players started offseason conditioning this week. OBU plays its first football game in more than 70 years next Aug. 31 vs. Southwestern College (Kan.) in Shawnee.
“We'll hit the weight room and make sure we're where we need to be for Aug. 31, 2013,” Jensen said. “That's the next big date.”
*Central Oklahoma running back Joshua Birmingham looked like a man lost after the Bronchos' 26-14 setback Nov. 3 to Southwest Baptist (Mo.) at Wantland Stadium.
Birmingham's eyes were glossed with tears after UCO blew a fourth-quarter lead; the junior from Luther recalled his third-down fumble with about eight minutes left that was recovered by a teammate at Southwest Baptist's 40. But the Bronchos still fell a yard shy of a first down. UCO coach Nick Bobeck played it safe and sent in Chris Robbs, who punted to the 19-yard-line.
Behind a 74-yard, tackle-breaking run from Via Via Manuma, Southwest Baptist scored the go-ahead touchdown in just four plays.
Although several people were involved in the sequence of plays after Birmingham's fumble — including a pass interference penalty against UCO — “I feel like that fumble cost us,” he said. “I feel like it's on my shoulders. I hate losing like that.”
*Big tilt 1 p.m. Saturday at Red Robertson Field in Miami, OK. No. 4-ranked Northeastern A&M will play No. 10 Navarro (Texas) in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship game. These teams met in the regular-season finale two weeks ago, with NEO winning, 26-24. A similar shootout can be expected Saturday.
Navarro (8-2) advanced to the title game by beating Kilgore (Texas), avenging one of its two losses. Navarro wants to make amends Saturday against NEO when it counts the most.
“Today was a perfect situation for us,” Navarro coach Brian Mayper said after defeating Kilgore. “We came over here a few weeks ago and lost a game we thought we should have won. It was mistakes that killed us. Now we get to go back to Miami and play at the place where our only other loss came from. It looks like another perfect situation.”