September 20, 2019

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Balanced ACU Attack Sinks SLU, 48-27, in Southland Shootout

HAMMOND, La. – In a game that featured 1,062 yards of offense, Abilene Christian was too much for Southeastern Louisiana on the way to a 48-27 Southland Conference victory in the 2018 Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame Game Saturday night in Strawberry Stadium.

The Lions (3-5, 3-3 Southland) had little luck slowing down the visiting Wildcats (4-4, 3-3 Southland), who racked up 612 yards – 317 on the ground and 295 through the air – on the way to their first win over SLU since 2015.

“We got outplayed physically on both sides of the ball,” Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo said. “Give ACU credit for how it came in here and handled business. We simply didn’t play the type of football that we expect and are capable of tonight and we’ve got to regroup. We have to take a hard look at things and get ready to play a very good Sam Houston State team on its home field next Saturday.”

On a night where former Southeastern tennis star Iva Velkovska and former Lion All-American and current Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford were honored as the latest inductees into the Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame, ACU took a double-digit second quarter lead and never looked back.

Wildcat sophomore quarterback Luke Anthony threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns on 29-of-37 passing. The junior duo of Billy McCrary (14 carries, 222 yards, one touchdown) and Tracy James (18-88-2 TD) led a ACU ground attack that finished with 317 yards.

SLU junior Chason Virgil threw for 324 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 30-for-55 passing with freshman CJ Turner (11 catches, 107 yards), junior Juwan Petit-Frere (6-59) and junior Bransen Schwebel (3-84) serving as his top targets. Senior Nih-Jer Jackson and junior Lorenzo Nunez each hauled in scoring tosses from Virgil.

Senior Darren Johnson led the Lion rushing attack with 68 yards on eight carries. Senior Julius Maracalin bulled in from four yards out for his first touchdown of the season for SLU.

Defensively, a pair of Lions filled up the box score. Senior Tamarcus Russell added to his team-high tackle total with 14 stops, while senior Brayleon Thorns was credited with 11 tackles and a tackle for loss.

After the two teams traded empty possessions to open the game, the Wildcats took the early lead. A 10-play, 64-yard scoring march was capped by a 33-yard field goal by sophomore Oscar Hernandez to put ACU on top, 3-0, with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

After the next Lion possession resulted in a punt, the Wildcats moved deep into Southeastern territory as the quarter ended. Three plays into the second quarter, James scurried in from 15 yards out to put Abilene Christian in front, 10-0.

A short kickoff and a 15-yard ACU penalty set the Lions up in Wildcat territory to start their next drive. A 17-yard run by Petit-Frere and a 16-yard catch by Schwebel highlighted a five-play, 46-yard march that Maracalin capped with the 19th touchdown of his SLU career. The score cut the Wildcat lead to 10-7 with 12:07 remaining in the opening half.

ACU scored on its next two drives to pull further ahead. Anthony found senior Kalin Sadler from 34 yards out for a touchdown, then Hernandez knocked in a 32-yard field goal to put the Wildcats up, 20-7, with 1:59 left in the half.

Southeastern was able to pull closer with a nice two-minute drive at the end of the first half. Virgil hooked up with Petit-Frere (21 yards) and Turner (22 yards) on productive pass plays to set up a 33-yard field goal by senior Jonathan Tatum that sent SLU into the break down, 20-10.

Southeastern forced an ACU punt on the first drive of the third quarter and quickly embarked on a drive that looked destined to pull the Lions within one score. A 58-yard catch-and-run by Schwebel set SLU up deep in Wildcat territory. But, facing a fourth-and-two at the ACU 17, Maracalin was stuffed at the line by senior Brandon Richmond to give the Wildcats the ball back with a 10-point lead.

Abilene Christian then marched 83 yards on eight plays to widen its lead. A 15-yard strike from Anthony to Justice extended the ACU advantage to 27-10 with 5:08 left in the third quarter.

SLU answered right back, as Johnson broke free on a 42-yard run that set up a nine-yard scoring pass from Virgil to Jackson that cut the lead back to 27-17 with 2:40 left in the third quarter.

ACU would just continue to answer, as James scored from two yards out in the first minute of the fourth quarter to put the Wildcats back up, 34-17.

A Tatum 28-yard field goal made it a two-touchdown deficit with 11:37 left, but McCrary came up with the final nail in the coffin on the ensuing drive, weaving his way for a 51-yard touchdown run and a commanding 41-20 lead with 10:24 left.

Southeastern came right back with a scoring march of its own, covering 65 yards on 12 plays. On fourth-and-six, Nunez made a 10-yard touchdown grab between two defenders to cut the ACU lead to 41-27.

McCrary rushed for 115 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 47-yard gallop that set up a 14-yard scoring pass from Anthony to Justice and staked ACU to a 48-27 advantage with 6:16 remaining.

Southeastern moved deep into Wildcat territory in hopes of lessening the final margin. However, sophomore Koy Richardson intercepted Virgil to end SLU’s final threat and put the icing on the ACU victory.

Southeastern will look to bounce back on the road next Saturday, traveling to nationally-ranked league foe Sam Houston State for a 1 p.m. contest in Huntsville, Texas. The game will be televised nationally on Eleven Sports (DirecTV 623) and will be available on the Southland Digital Network at and via Southland apps available for iPhone, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

Fans can also hear the Lions-Bearkats tilt on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU-FM (90.9), Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and WFPR 1400 AM). Fans can also listen live at and via the Radio FX, TuneIn Radio and Lions Gameday Experience apps.

ACU – 3 17 7 21 – 48 (4-4, 3-3 SLC)

SLU – 0 10 7 10 – 27 (3-5, 3-3 SLC)

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

ACU – Hernandez 33 FG, 3:07

2nd Quarter
ACU – Tracy 15 run (Hernandez kick), 13:51

SLU – Maracalin 4 run (Tatum kick), 12:07
ACU – Sadler 34 pass from Anthony (Hernandez kick), 9:48

ACU – Hernandez 32 FG, 1:59

SLU – Tatum 33 FG, 0:41

3rd Quarter

ACU – Justice 15 pass from Anthony (Hernandez kick), 5:08

SLU – Jackson 9 pass from Virgil (Tatum kick), 2:40

4th Quarter

ACU – James 2 run (Hernandez kick), 14:11

SLU – Tatum 28 FG, 11:37

ACU – McCrary 51 run (Hernandez kick), 10:24

SLU – Nunez 10 pass from Virgil (Tatum kick), 7:41

ACU – Justice 14 pass from Anthony (Hernandez kick), 6:16

                                                                            ACU       SLU

FIRST DOWNS                                                 32           23
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)                                  36-317    28-126

PASSING YDS (NET)                                       295         324

Passes Att-Comp-Int                                          37-29-0   55-30-1

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS                73-612    83-450

Fumble Returns-Yards                                        0-0          0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards                                       1-14        7-78

Punt Returns-Yards                                             0-0          0-0

Interception Returns-Yards                                 1-0          0-0

Punts (Number-Avg)                                           2-42.5     4-32.0

Fumbles-Lost                                                      0-0          2-0

Penalties-Yards                                                   7-57        9-89                              Possession Time.                                                    32:23      27:37

Third-Down Conversions                                    7-of-12   7-of-18

Fourth-Down Conversions                                  1-of-1     3-of-5

Red Zone Scores-Chances                                  6-6          5-7

RUSHING: ACU – McCrary 14-222, James 18-88, White 1-13, Anthony 1-1, Team 2-(-7). Totals – 36-317. SLU – D. Johnson 8-68, Petit-Frere 2-21, Nunez 2-10, Virgil 6-10, D. Williams 4-9, Jackson 2-5, Maracalin 4-3. Totals – 28-126.

PASSING: ACU – Anthony 29-37-0-295-3. Totals 29-37-0-295-3. SLU – Virgil 30-55-1-324-2. Totals 30-55-1-324-2.

RECEIVING: ACU – Justice 6-69, Ennis 5-59, Sadler 4-43, Cokley 4-29, White 4-29, McCrary 3-37, Fink 1-13, James 1-10, Fuller 1-6. Totals 29-295. SLU – Turner 11-107, Petit-Frere 6-59, Schwebel 3-84, Jackson 3-24, Ingraffia 3-14, Nunez 2-16, Johnson 1-13, D. Williams 1-7. Totals 30-324.

A – 4,724.


By: Kemmler Chapple

SLU Sports Information

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Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach