December 13, 2017

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Southeastern Heads to HBU in Search of Fourth Straight Victory

HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Louisiana football team will hit the road in search of its fourth consecutive victory on Saturday, when it travels to Houston Baptist for a 6 p.m. Southland Conference contest at Husky Stadium.

The Lions (3-3, 3-1 Southland) will be attempting to move above .500 and record its first four-game winning streak since 2014. The host Huskies (1-4, 0-3 Southland) will be looking to snap a three-game skid when Southeastern comes to town.

Something has to give when high-powered SLU faces off against one of the Southland’s stingiest defenses. Southeastern has scored 49 points and topped 500 yards of total offense in each of his last three games, while HBU has yet to allow 27 points or more in a game this season.

“Houston Baptist has an outstanding defense,” Southeastern head coach Ron Roberts said. “We’ll be going head-to-head with a mature group with a lot of football games under their belt. We’ve been pretty explosive offensively the last few weeks, but we’re facing a huge challenge this weekend at HBU.”

Southeastern’s 147 points and 1,699 yards of offense in its last three games have moved the Lions into second in the Southland with 37.3 points (15th in FCS) and 463.8 yards (14th in FCS) per game. The majority of SLU’s production has been done on the ground, as Southeastern ranks sixth nationally with 291.5 rushing yards per game.

Four different players have led the Lions in rushing for a game this season. Junior Darren Johnson (381 yards, 4 TD), freshman Marcus Cooper (336-1 TD), senior Eugene Bethea (317-3 TD) and junior Julius Maracalin (267-5 TD) have all been effective behind a stalwart veteran offensive line.

SLU has shown the ability to also make plays through the air, especially with sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Nunez under center. In the four games Nunez has started, the Lions are averaging 48.8 points and 553.8 yards per contest.

Senior Juwan Dickey (23 catches, 311 yards) is the top target for the Lions. SLU freshman Austin Mitchell, the reigning Southland Offensive Player of the Week, leads the team with three touchdown catches. Sophomore Bransen Schwebel has two scores, while Dickey, junior Jariah Tolbert, junior Nih-Jer Jackson, sophomore Jacq’co Price, sophomore Damien Dawson, sophomore Zeke Jenkins and sophomore Juwan Petit-Frere have one touchdown catch apiece.

Petit-Frere’s biggest contribution has been in the return game, as he has twice been named the Southland and LSWA Special Teams Player of the Week. The Orlando, Florida native leads FCS with 634 kickoff return yards, a 39.6 yard kickoff return average and two kickoff return touchdowns.

The Lions will look to continue their role against an HBU defense that ranks second in the Southland with 347.0 yards per game and fourth in the league with 23.0 per contest allowed. The Huskies are led by All-American senior linebacker Garrett Dolan, who has a league-high 57 tackles and paces the squad with 7.5 tackles for loss.

Junior Raphael Lewis and sophomore Nicholas Smith share the team lead with two interceptions each. Junior Johnavhon Graham has all three of the Huskies’ sacks in 2017.

HBU is averaging 11.4 points and 242.2 yards per game on offense, while the Lion defense is allowing 31.3 points and 409.3 yards per outing.

“HBU definitely has some playmakers on offense and they are just looking for consistency,” Roberts commented. “We’re looking for that same consistency on defense. We don’t feel like we’re that far off and Saturday is another opportunity for us to put together a complete effort for four quarters.”

Freshman quarterback Bailey Zappe (766 yards, 1 TD, 7 INT) has taken the majority of snaps for HBU with senior Ethan Fry (19 catches, 217 yards, 1 TD) and freshman Dennis Houston (18-188) serving as his top targets. Freshman James Brown (191 yards, 1 TD) and senior Terrance Peters (173-1 TD) pace the Husky ground game.

The Lion defense is led by senior Max Lyons and senior Sione Teuhema. Lyons leads the team with 48 tackles and shares team-high honors with senior Mayori Ellison with two interceptions each.

Teuhema, one of three FCS players on the Butkus Award Watch List is second on the

team with 44 tackles to go with his league-high 6.0 sacks (third in FCS) and 10.0 tackles for loss.

Senior Jeff Williams II (42 tackles), senior Lee Spight (32) and senior Jake Jiannoni (32) round out the top five on SLU’s tackle leaderboard. Spight leads the team with two forced fumbles, while junior Courtney Rutledge has a team-high two fumble recoveries.

Saturday will mark the first of two straight road contests for the Lions. Next Saturday, Southeastern will head to Abilene Christian for a 2:30 p.m. contest. The game will be broadcast live on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU 90.9 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, Kajun 107.1 FM, WFPR 1400 AM), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the TuneIn Radio app. A live video stream will be accessible at www.ACUSports.com.

About Andy Bryson 572 Articles
Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach