Southern Nazarene begins long road in college football

Wednesday, September 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Southern Nazarene's 24-6 loss to Bethel College on Saturday was not just the team's first loss of the season. It was their first loss ever. In fact, it was SNU's first game ever.

With 62 freshmen and only two seniors on a roster of 82, coach Paul McGrady is leading his wide-eyed warriors into the brave new world of college football. Their first foray was a reality check for many players at the private, Christian liberal arts school in Bethany.

They were awed by the speed and intensity of the college game _ even at the NAIA level. Others fell victim to inevitable rustiness, resulting in 125 yards in penalties and a 10-of-30 performance by the team's quarterbacks. At one point, an SNU punt went straight up in the air and rolled backward for a 2-yard loss. But mostly, McGrady said his players were bowled over by the length of the college game _ this one lasting 3 1/2 hours.

``Our guys had been anticipating what this would be like and we tried to tell them how much longer a college game was (than high school),'' McGrady said. ``And when it was over, that's what we heard was, 'Coach, this is longer than we thought.'''

SNU had its successes. They recovered five Bethel turnovers and avoided a shutout when, with 7:03 left to play, freshman quarterback Jarod Graham hit freshman Michael Enoch with a 16-yard touchdown pass.

As the team gets ready to face the Northeastern Oklahoma freshman squad Thursday night, McGrady said he'd like to see his Crimson Storm cut their penalties in half and show more discipline. But he said the team already showed him what he really wanted to see.

``Our guys were tested to the core and we didn't respond sometimes, but we never conceded and we never gave up,'' McGrady said. ``And I'm proud of those things.''

In small school games Saturday, the Central Oklahoma Bronchos will be trying to win their first game of the season with their home opener against Texas A&M Commerce.

UCO lost to NAIA national champion Northwestern Oklahoma last week by 38-14. Earlier, they lost 38-31 to Stephen F. Austin. Northwestern Oklahoma has the weekend off.

Also on Saturday, Northeastern Oklahoma faces Abilene Christian, Langston plays Benedict College, Southeastern Oklahoma faces Texas A&M-Kingsville, Southwestern Oklahoma plays Tarleton State, East Central is against Angelo State and Panhandle State plays Arkansas-Monticello.