The Austin College football team dropped its season opener to Howard Payne, 48-34, on Saturday afternoon at Jerry Apple Stadium as the Yellow Jackets used a 21-point second quarter to open things up.


Howard Payne struck quickly in the opening quarter, getting a 60-yard pass from Caleb Estes to Thomas Williams to cap off a five-play, 80-yard drive and make it 7-0.


The ‘Roos didn’t waste much time evening things up, however, with Sharun Jones setting up a short field with a 45-yard kick return and Evan Powell scoring from 10 yards out two plays later.


The score remained tied at seven until late in the opening quarter when the Yellow Jackets got a four-yard touchdown run from Kaidrion Latson. Austin College’s Segun Adekunle blocked the point after, keeping the score 13-7 with a minute left in the first.


Austin College countered early in the second quarter with Powell’s 26-yard touchdown run tying the score at 13 after the point after missed.


However, the Yellow Jackets answered with 21 straight points to close out the half, starting with a 39-yard touchdown pass from Estes to Jake Parker with nine minutes on the clock. Estes tossed two more touchdowns in the quarter with one going to Jordan Bryant on a 38-yard connection and the other a 13-yard strike to Williams with just four seconds left in the half, making it a 34-13 game at the break.


Howard Payne kept the momentum going into the third quarter as Estes kept it himself and scored from four yards out to make it 41-13 with 11:11 left in the frame. Austin College answered with a two-yard touchdown run from Colt Collins to make it 41-20 heading into the fourth.


The ‘Roos kept trying to chip away at the deficit in the fourth. Collins found Maika Brinkerhoff from 49 yards out to make it 41-27 just 16 seconds into the quarter but the Yellow Jackets pushed the margin back to three touchdowns on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Estes to DunTayviun Gross with 12:22 left.


Collins found Brinkerhoff again with six minutes left, this time on a 22-yard strike, to trim it to a 48-34 game, but that’s as close as things would get, and Howard Payne was able to pick up two first downs to run out the clock down the stretch.


Howard Payne finished with 524 yards while Austin College piled up 420 yards.


Collins completed 15-of-32 passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and also led the ‘Roos on the ground with 60 yards and another score. Powell finished with nine carries for 59 yards and two touchdowns and Brinkerhoff had three receptions for 74 yards.


For Howard Payne, Estes connected on 26-of-33 passes for 318 yards and five touchdowns and added 52 yards and a score on the ground. Billy Reagins carried 14 times for 78 yards and Williams finished with four catches for 96 yards.


Defensively, Keegan Nichols led the ’Roos with 11 stops, including three tackles for loss, and Drake Sanders added eight tackles and also had three for a loss. Austin Killgore led the Yellow Jackets with nine tackles.


Austin College heads out on the road this Saturday when it travels to Southwestern Assemblies of God University with kickoff set for 6 p.m.