Haskell Indian Nations University football coach Eric Brock saw significant improvement out of his Fightin' Indians on Saturday.
Still, it wasn't quite enough.
Central States Football League foe Langston University punched two touchdowns across in the second half, topping HINU 14-0 in a penalty-marred afternoon game at Haskell Stadium.
"Our guys have got to be smarter," Brock said. "Penalties are going to happen, but you've got to play the next play."
Langston (1-5) had 11 penalties, several of them personal fouls, but Haskell's second penalty of the afternoon was the back-breaker.
On fourth-and-one from Haskell's 3-yard line, Langston quarterback Ross Smith threw an incomplete pass. However, defensive holding was called, extending the Lions' drive.
Running back Terrell Green scored on the next play, putting Langston up 6-0 with 9:39 to play in the third quarter.
The Lions' extra point was blocked.
"Penalties don't give them scores," Brock said. "They give them yardage."
Langston added another score in the fourth when Gerald Campbell connected on a 40-yard bomb to Terry Moss.
The game extended Haskell's losing streak to 23 games, dating back two years.
But this game wasn't typical of losses during the streak. For a team struggling to stop the rush, the Indians run defense did their job on Saturday.
Langston managed just 42 net rushing yards on Saturday. Green, the feature running back, rushed 22 times for 42 yards.
The Lions did find other ways to move the ball, particularly from tight end Chris White.
The 6-foot-4 White caught just three balls, but they went for 106 yards. He was also on the receiving end of a Langston two-point conversion with 6:10 to play.
"He's a thoroughbred," Brock said. "We stopped the run well today, but he got over our heads. If he gets a good start, it takes one of our better athletes to chase him down, and we don't have many of those right now."
HINU travels to Peru, Neb., to take on Peru State next Saturday. It's a significantly weaker team than a Langston squad Haskell held tight with through much of Saturday's game, something that has Brock encouraged.
"We've got to get to the level of play where the satisfaction is a win," he said, "We're going to watch tape, learn and get better. Each one of us."
Langston 14, Haskell 0
Langston 0 0 6 8 14
Haskell 0 0 0 0 0
L: Terrell Green 2 run (kick blocked)
L: Terry Moss 40 pass from Gerald Campbell (Chris White pass from Ross Smith)