Lindenwood got hot at the right time of the football season. After a rough start, Lindenwood went 4-0 in the month of October, and more importantly, in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. On Saturday November 2, the Lions hosted the Greyhounds from the University of Indianapolis. UIndy came into play ranked #8 in all of NCAA Division II football, bringing an undefeated 7-0 record to Hunter Stadium on the Lindenwood campus.
Jumping to the second quarter, an early field goal and pick-six for UIndy gave the ranked visitors a 10-0 lead as both offenses had their struggles in the first. Lindenwood QB Cade Brister looked sharp, but until the second found no reward for his work. Brister would find a wide open Payton Rose for his first TD of what would prove to be a monumental day for the Lions quarterback.
As the first half wound down, Brister led the Lions downfield through a series of orderly, methodical passes, finding receivers open in UIndy’s rather soft coverage. Brister capped the drive by scrambling and diving to his second TD, his first on the ground, and gave the Lions a 14-10 halftime lead.
Credit to the Lindenwood defense should be given for locking down the usually powerful Greyhound offense in the opening half. UIndy’s offense came into today’s ballgame averaging over 20 points in the first half of their contests, and was held to just a lone field goal in the opening half hour of play. Speaking to Lindenwood’s radio broadcast following the game, head coach Jed Stugart acknowledged what was really the difference for his Lions:
“Up to this point, (UIndy)’d been averaging 14 points in the first quarter, they’d been averaging 10 points in the second quarter. They’d been getting a lot of their points in the first half. To hold the offense to zero points in the first quarter, they were kind of out of their element. They just weren’t used to it, they’ve never played from behind, they’ve never really played through four quarters. We knew if we could get ‘em through the fourth quarter we had a really good chance. They just haven’t played a full game. They haven’t had to, they’ve had leads and never had to come from behind. We have, we’ve been in these games and we’re used to them. All those games earlier in the season that frustrated us prepared us for games like this.”
Brister and the Lindenwood offense picked up right where they left off at halftime. A big pass and catch from Cade Brister to Nash Sutherlin really swung momentum in favor of the home team, making the score 21-10, and reinvigorating the slightly chilly home fans packed into the west side of Hunter Stadium. Not stopping there, Lindenwood tacked on another score, yet again through the air, as wideout Glen Gibbons hauled in Brister’s effort in the endzone. The Lions had scored four unanswered touchdowns, and #8 UIndy’s sideline was stunned silent.
UIndy hasn’t faced any adversity this season that matches being down 18 on the road. The Greyhounds have done most of their damage early in games and gave their defense more breathing room, as Lindenwood ball coach Jed Stugart alluded to in previous quotes. The offense wasn’t clicking at all, all day for UIndy. Dual-threat QB TJ Edwards was attempting to score all the points back himself, and while he put up an impressive display on the ground and threw for 180 yards, his team was in a hole late.
I have to emphasize Cade Brister’s outstanding performance on the day for Lindenwood. Brister threw for 531 yards, a Lindenwood University record at any level of college sports. Brister was responsible for 4 scores, 3 through the air and his short scramble on the ground. Completing over 64% of his passes, Brister was locked in all day, and UIndy had no answers for the Lions air raid.
At 28-10, UIndy started clawing back. Their first score since the early pick-six was a Paul Buisman field goal, coming with just 12:34 left in the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds sandwiched a TJ Edwards touchdown run between two LU field goals, and pushed the score to 34-20 with about two minutes still on the clock.
UIndy still held out hopes for a late victory, marching down the field and scoring in a minute and a half to pull within a touchdown, the score 34-27. An onside kick attempt followed, and failed, and Lindenwood kneeled out the remaining time. Not quite as dramatic as some of Lindenwood’s previous home games, but likely the biggest Lindenwood win of the year, knocking off a top-ten team in NCAA Division II.
“We believed we could win, there’s no doubt about it.” Head coach Jed Stugart said speaking with 89.1, Lindenwood’s radio station, following the game. Win they did, and now the Lions are serious contenders for a GLVC crown, the lone undefeated team in the conference after handing UIndy their first GLVC loss of the year.
The Lions close out their home schedule with Senior Day next Saturday, hosting Missouri S&T, who will be confident coming off a 62-0 rout of Southwest Baptist. S&T boasts a similar 6-3 record, but has had mixed results in conference play, notably getting blown out by the UIndy team Lindenwood handled.