April 22, 2019

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Southeastern Outlasts HBU, 62-52, in Homecoming Shootout

HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana scored 14 points in the final 40 seconds to pull away for a wild 62-52 Southland Conference football victory over Houston Baptist Saturday evening at Strawberry Stadium.

A game that featured five defensive touchdowns was anything but a defensive struggle, as the 114 combined points tied for the most scored a game in the history of the SLU program. The Lions (3-4, 3-2 Southland) and the visiting Huskies (1-5, 0-4 Southland) combined for 942 yards of offense.

In a contest in which it had a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter, Southeastern trailed 52-48 with under two minutes left, when junior Devonte Williams busted loose for a 49-yard punt return to set the Lions up at the HBU 25-yard line with 1:26 left.

Five plays later, freshman CJ Turner took in a short pass from junior Chason Virgil, shook a tackler and tight-roped the left sideline for a 15-yard touchdown and a 55-52 lead with 40 seconds remaining.

HBU would have one last chance, but SLU came up with one last big play. Senior Jon Miller sacked and stripped Husky sophomore quarterback Bailey Zappe. Junior Xavier Lewis scooped up the loose ball and raced 38 yards for the game-clinching score to provide the final margin.

“We gave our fans an exciting Homecoming, for sure,” Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo said. “Our football team continues to show a lot of resiliency and I can always count on this group to play hard to the final whistle. I’m excited about where we’re going and how much room to grow our program has.

“This is a tough league and any win is a good one,” Scelfo said. “We always want to play our best, but when we can win when we don’t play our best, it’s a positive thing.”

SLU rushed for a season-high 184 yards with the work split between seniors Darren Johnson (21 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD) and Julius Maracalin (14-69), while Williams also rushed for a score. Johnson is the first Lion to top 100 rushing yards in a game this season.

Turner (four catches, 92 yards) was the top target for Virgil, who finished with 240 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 19-of-34 passing on Saturday. Virgil connected with senior Jake Ingraffia for his first career touchdown reception, while junior Bransen Schwebel hauled in a touchdown pass from junior Lorenzo Nunez.

On defense, Miller, senior Sean Clavelle and junior Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund each collected sacks. In addition to Lewis’ game-clinching score, senior Zeke Walker and junior Tre’ Spann each returned interceptions for touchdowns, as the Lions scored three defensive touchdowns in a game for the first time since a 28-17 win over Florida Tech on Sept. 12, 2015.

Senior Tamarcus Russell led SLU 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and also had an interception of his own.

Zappe threw for 342 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions to lead a HBU offensive effort that recorded 512 yards. Freshman Jerreth Stears (nine catches, 110 yards, two touchdowns) and junior Terry Tillmon (3-108-2) were the top targets for Zappe, while sophomore LaDarius Dickens led the Husky ground attack with 97 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

It was all Southeastern to open the game. Clavelle was credited with a sack after forcing an intentional grounding by Zappe on fourth down on the Huskies’ opening drive of the game, turning the ball over on downs. The Lions then methodically moved the ball down the field, covering 56 yards on 13 plays. Williams capped the march with a 11-yard touchdown run to put Southeastern up, 7-0, with 6:31 left in the opening quarter.

On the second play of the next HBU possession, Walker stepped in front of a Zappe pass and took the interception back 33 yards for a 14-0 lead.

Southeastern then forced a three-and-out by the Huskies and a 22-yard punt by freshman Tyler Blanchard set the Lions up in HBU territory. Virgil connected on long passes to senior Nih-Jer Jackson (22 yards) and Williams (21 yards) to highlight the six-play, 45-yard scoring march that was closed out when Nunez found Schwebel wide open from four yards out to give SLU a commanding 21-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.

On the first play of the second quarter, Spann stepped in front of a short out route and took the ensuing interception 50 yards for a touchdown to put the Lions up, 28-0.

HBU got on the board on its next drive, as Blanchard capped an 11-play, 66-yard march with a 36-yard field goal to cut the SLU advantage to 28-3 with 11:15 left in the opening half.

After the two teams traded three-and-outs, it was HBU’s defense’s turn to take advantage of a mistake. Freshman Colton Manning stripped Johnson and sophomore Caleb Johnson returned the loose ball 18 yards to pull the Huskies within, 28-10, with 8:01 remaining in the second quarter.

SLU answered right back on its next possession. Ingraffia hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Virgil in the back corner of the end zone to put the Lions in front, 35-10, with 4:27 remaining in the opening half.

HBU pulled out a trick play to cut into the lead after the two teams traded empty possessions. A wide receiver pass by Sterns was hauled in by Tillmon for a 42-yard touchdown to pull the Huskies to within, 35-16, with 1:23 left in the half. Sophomore Ronald Cherry III blocked Blanchard’s PAT attempt to keep the Lion advantage at 19 points.

Two plays later, HBU senior Kyle Bowling intercepted a Virgil pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to send SLU in to the break ahead, 35-23.

Southeastern seemed poised to reestablish its dominance at the opening of the third quarter, as Johnson busted loose for a 49-yard run on the first play of the second half. Three plays later, the Long Beach, California native bulled in from six yards out to give the Lions a 42-23 advantage just over two minutes into the second half.

An interception by Russell set SLU up in Huskies’ territory on the next drive, but senior Jonathan Tatum pushed a 38-yard field goal try wide right to keep the lead at 42-23.

The next 10 minutes on the game clock were all Huskies, as they scored touchdowns on three consecutive drives. The third scoring march was capped when Dickens snuck in from a yard out, giving HBU an improbable 45-42 lead with 14:55 left in the game.

A 28-yard kickoff return by Johnson combined with a 15-yard HBU penalty started the next Lion drive at the Huskies’ 27-yard line. Tatum knotted the score four plays later with a 42-yard field goal. The longest career kick of the Alexandria, Louisiana native’s collegiate career knotted the score at 45-45 with 13:38 remaining.

After forcing an HBU punt, SLU was able to retake the lead. A steady dose of Maracalin and Johnson resulted in an 11-play, 70-yard march that Tatum capped with a 20-yard field goal to put the Lions back up, 48-45, with eight minutes left.

Houston Baptist just would not go away, however. Zappe was 8-for-9 on a scoring march that covered 73 yards on 10 plays. Sterns caught a short pass and raced in from eight yards out to put the Huskies in front, 52-48 with just over five minutes left. The two teams traded three-and-out to set up the final thrilling minutes to saw SLU come away with the victory.

Saturday’s game was the first of two straight games at home for the Lions, who welcome Abilene Christian to town for a 7 p.m. contest next Saturday, Oct. 20 in Strawberry Stadium. A live video stream, produced by the Southeastern Channel, will be available on the Southland Digital Network at www.Southland.org/live and Southland apps.

Fans will also be able to hear the Lions-ACU 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 www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX, TuneIn Radio and Lions Gameday Experience apps.

Saturday will also be the annual Hall of Fame Game, as former football All-American and current Atlanta Falcon Robert Alford and five-time Southland Conference champion women’s tennis standout Iva Velkovska make up the 2018 Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame class. Both will be recognized at halftime of Saturday’s game.

Next Saturday will also be Solid Gold Saturday, as all Lion fans are encouraged to wear their Gold and help “Gold Out” Strawberry Stadium. The first 200 SLU students in the gates will receive a megaphone.

HBU – 0 23 14 15 – 52 (1-5, 0-4 SLC)

SLU – 21 14 7 20 – 62 (3-4, 3-2 SLC)

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

SLU – D. Williams 11 run (Tatum kick), 6:31
SLU – Z. Walker 33 interception return (Tatum kick), 5:43

SLU – Schwebel 4 pass from Nunez (Tatum kick), 1:27

2nd Quarter

SLU – Spann 50 interception return (Tatum kick), 14:51

HBU – Blanchard 36 FG, 11:15

HBU – Johnson 18 fumble return (Blanchard kick), 8:01

SLU – Ingraffia 16 pass from Virgil (Tatum kick), 4:27

HBU – Tillmon 42 pass from Stearns (Blanchard kick blocked), 1:23

HBU – Bowling 35 interception return (Blanchard kick), 1:05

3rd Quarter

SLU – D. Johnson 6 run (Tatum kick), 12:57

HBU – Sterns 3 pass from Zappe (Blanchard kick), 8:07

HBU – Tillmon 41 pass from Zappe (Blanchard kick), 4:35

4th Quarter

HBU – Dickens 1 run (J. Johnson pass from Zappe), 14:55

SLU – Tatum 42 FG, 13:38
SLU – Tatum 20 FG, 8:00

HBU – Sterns 8 pass from Zappe (Blanchard kick), 5:16

SLU – Turner 15 pass from Virgil (Tatum kick), 0:40

SLU – Lewis 38 fumble return (Tatum kick), 0:16

                                                                            HBU       SLU

FIRST DOWNS                                                 26           22
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)                                   35-128    46-184

PASSING YDS (NET)                                       384         246

Passes Att-Comp-Int                                          47-30-3   36-21-1

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS                82-512    82-430

Fumble Returns-Yards                                        1-18        1-38

Kickoff Returns-Yards                                       9-171      6-94

Punt Returns-Yards                                             2-11        2-62

Interception Returns-Yards                                 1-35        3-83

Punts (Number-Avg)                                           5-38.6     5-39.6

Fumbles-Lost                                                      3-1          2-1

Penalties-Yards                                                   7-65        8-76                              Possession Time.                                                    27:34      32:26

Third-Down Conversions                                    9-of-16   9-of-19

Fourth-Down Conversions                                  0-of-1     1-of-1

Red Zone Scores-Chances                                  4-4          6-7

RUSHING: HBU – Dickens 16-97, Zappe 12-23, Sterns 1-5, Lewis 6-3. Totals – 35-128. SLU – D. Johnson 21-127, Maracalin 14-69, D. Williams 5-21, Nunez 1-(-8), Virgil 5-(-25). Totals – 46-184.

PASSING: HBU – Zappe 29-46-3-342-3, Sterns 1-1-0-42-1. Totals 30-47-3-384-4. SLU – Virgil 19-34-1-240-2, Nunez 2-2-0-6-1. Totals 21-36-1-246-3.

RECEIVING: HBU – Sterns 9-110, Brito 5-58, Racine 4-43, Smith 4-27, Tillmon 3-108, Sexton 2-18, Robinson 1-18, Ceniceros 1-7, Hooks 1-(-5). Totals – 30-384. SLU – Turner 4-92, Jackson 3-42, Tolbert 3-28, D. Williams 2-26, Ingraffia 2-25, Schwebel 2-16, Petit-Frere 2-13, Maracalin 2-1, Nunez 1-3. Totals 21-246.

A – 6,023.


For season ticket information and individual game tickets, please contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net/tickets. The Lions’ 2018 home schedule includes conference foes Central Arkansas (Sept. 15), Northwestern State (Sept. 29), Houston Baptist (Oct. 13 – Homecoming), Abilene Christian (Oct. 20 – Hall of Fame Game) and McNeese (Nov. 3) to Strawberry Stadium in 2018.


Southeastern Athletics has instituted a clear bag policy for all ticketed events, effective with the start of football season. For more information on the clear bag policy, visitwww.LionSports.net/clear.


Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the football program are encouraged to join the Touchdown Club. Lion football alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Touchdown Club and S Club (football) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern football program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

For more information on Southeastern Football, follow @SLUFootball and @Coach_Scelfo on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.


Inside Southeastern Football with Frank Scelfo, the Lion first-year head coach’s radio show, is held every Monday through Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at Tope La Catering (113 East Thomas Street) in downtown Hammond.

Hosted by Scelfo and Allen Waddell, the show will air 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 www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX, TuneIn Radio and Lions Gameday Experience apps. A live video stream of the show will be available via Facebook Watch at www.facebook.com/sluathletics.

About Andy Bryson 667 Articles
Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach