The Statesmen opened their football season on Saturday with a 24-14 win over the Division I Mississippi Valley State University Delta Devils in Itta Bena. The win put the Statesmen at No. 25 in the American Football Coaches Association Poll for the first time since the end of the 2011 season.
On Friday, DSU (1-0) will look to continue its good fortune when the team travels to Arlington, Texas to play the Texas A&M Commerce Lions (1-0) at AT&T Stadium, which is the home of the Dallas Cowboys in the annual Lone State Conference Kickoff Classic. This is the fifth meeting between the two schools. The last time these two teams played was in 1994 when DSU won 19-14 in Cleveland.
“We’re looking to make an improvement from game one to game two against a very good Texas A&M Commerce team,” Delta State head football coach Todd Cooley said. “We’re excited about getting to go play at this venue, and we’re excited about taking our university to kind of a national spotlight. That stadium is very well known, and we’re excited about the people from Cleveland getting to go.”
AT&T Stadium seats 80,000 and has a maximum capacity of 105, 000 including standing room. It has a retractable roof and is known for many of its state-of-the-art features.
DSU sophomore defensive back Richard Nash said, at the DSU press conference earlier this week, said he is looking forward to showing his stuff on the field Friday in a stadium the size of AT&T Stadium.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Nash said. “Big time players make big time plays in big time games. That’s the approach we’re taking it with, and we just hope to come out victorious. I feel like we can do that if we play Delta State football.”
Nash said the chance to play a game at AT&T Stadium caught his attention when he was being recruited.
“That was eye popping to me,” Nash said “It’s an honor to play on a field with hall of fames and pro bowlers. It’s just a blessing really. We just have to remain focused. It’s a business trip more than anything.”
DSU running back Timothy Foy said he is taking a business like approach to the game.
“It’s another game,” Foy said. “It’s an honor to be playing in that stadium there in that arena of football, but you’ve got to win it.”
Foy was virtually speechless when it came to anticipating what the atmosphere will be like.
“Words probably can’t explain it,” Foy said. “It’s going to be a high intensity atmosphere. It’s America’s game at the home of America’s team.”
To win their first game of the season last week, the Statesmen had to battle through their share of ups and downs against the Delta Devils. DSU trailed 7-3 at halftime and overcame some mistakes through out the game as the team committed four turnovers. DSU’s defense was consistent through the entire night, while the Statesmen’s ground game racked up 206 yards on 52 carries. DSU finished Saturday with 452 yards of offense, while the defense held MVSU to 279 yards.
“We’re really excited about the way our team fought back on Saturday,” Cooley said. “It was a good first win and was great for our program and a validation to the things we’ve been working on. I’m really proud of them and the way they handled and overcome adversity. Their character showed up as a team. Against an FCS opponent, we learned a lot about our football team.”
The Lions began its season on a strong note last week by winning 51-6 over Division III Sul Ross State. Texas A&M Commerce tallied 493 yards of total offense with 382 of them coming in the air. Sul Ross State was held to just 106 yards of offense. Junior quarterback Tyrik Rollinson completed 25-of-38 passes for 346 yards with four touchdowns and an interception to lead the Lions. Rollinson redshirted as a freshman at Auburn. He also transferred to Sam Houston State and played last year Tyler Junior College.
Cooley said the Lions will be a great team on both sides of the football.
“They throw the football, and they throw it well,” Cooley said. “They’ve got some play makers and guys that know how to catch and throw well. The quarterback used to be at Auburn, and he’s a very talented young man.
“Defensively, they are very aggressive and sound in what they do,” Cooley said. “They’ve got good size and good speed. It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve got to focus on us and we’re about if we can make the improvements from week one to week two like we need to.”
Kickoff for Friday is set for 7 p.m.