Lindenwood football wins a thriller, prepares for first home game


Photo by Eva Laurens

Lindenwood University is installing a new score board before the first Division I Football game.

Ethan Hannaford, Reporter

 The Lindenwood football team has begun preparing for their week two matchup after pulling off a thrilling victory last week.

After a 21-20 victory over Houston Baptist University, Lions head coach Jed Stugart and the Lions now prepare for their week two matchup and home opener against the Keiser University Hawks.

Keiser is an NAIA school located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that plays in the Sun Conference. A win for the Lions would mean their first home opener victory since 2016. The Hawks will enter the game with a record of 1-2. While Keiser is playing a much larger foe in Lindenwood, it is something the team is used to at this point.

Only two weeks ago, Keiser went toe to toe with Division II powerhouse Valdosta State University, losing by a final of 36-21. The Hawks held the lead at the half, though, and kept it close throughout most of the game.

“They kind of have a confidence [that says], “hey we’ll play anybody, anywhere,” that always keeps you up at night a little bit because they’re well coached,” Stugart said. “They’ve got very good talent on their team, they run a really good operation, and they’re sound defensively so you know offensively they do a lot of stuff that’s sound.”

Keiser is currently ranked 14th in the NAIA Top 25 Poll. Stugart is excited about the challenge and opportunity knowing that it will provide an early season test for his team. It could be easy to overlook a small school like Keiser and Stugart knows that preparation will be key in how the game goes.

“This will be a great mental week for us to really stay humble [and] understand that we really haven’t done anything yet so we can’t overlook anybody,” Lindenwood head coach Jed Stugart said. “That’s going to be our focus all week.”

Game number two of the season will be difficult to live up to the excitement that occurred in the Lions’ first game though. It was a game for the history books this past Saturday as the Lions went into Husky Stadium, home of Houston Baptist University, and pulled out an exciting 21-20 victory. 

Trailing by five points with 28 seconds remaining, the Lions Jalen Bethany blocked a Houston Baptist punt, and it was recovered by Andrew Martin in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.  Martin’s fumble recovery earned him the award of the FedEx Ground FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week by Stats Perform.

The win is Lindenwood football’s first as an NCAA Division I program. Stugart may have been happier than anyone following the victory.

“We always talk about special teams winning games, and we knew if we were in a position in the fourth quarter that we were going to win the game,” Stugart said. “The special teams unit, the block party, made a big play to win the game. We won a little bit ugly, but those guys just kept believing in each other and we won with heart.”

Lindenwood had several successful performances in their first game of the season that will be looking to continue their solid starts. Lindenwood, as a team, ran for over 200 yards.

Sophomore running back Robert Giaimo was responsible for over half of the total as he ran for 108 yards. While Lindenwood did play a mostly conservative game last Saturday, they could look to open the pass game up more this upcoming week by taking advantage of the much smaller Keiser. 

Another player that you can expect to keep the success going is quarterback Cade Brister who threw for 184 yards while rushing for 46 last week. Brister is one touchdown pass away from breaking the school record for most career touchdown passes. He is also less than 600 yards away from having the most passing yards in school history.

Lindenwood will look to continue its solid start on Saturday night Sept. 17, under the lights at Hunter Stadium at 6 p.m.