February 16, 2020

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No. 22 McNeese Outlasts SLU in Defensive Struggle

LAKE CHARLES, La. – No. 22 McNeese held Southeastern Louisiana scoreless in the second half on the way to a 13-3 victory over the Lions in Southland Conference football action Saturday night at Cowboy Stadium.

The Lions (5-5, 5-3 Southland) were limited to a season-low 176 total yards against a stout McNeese defense. Southeastern held the Cowboys (7-2, 5-2 Southland) scoreless in the first half, but McNeese countered with 13 points in the second half to keep its postseason hopes alive.

“I’m proud of how our players fought hard tonight and kept playing until the final whistle,” Southeastern head coach Ron Roberts said. “Ultimately we just weren’t able to make enough play to get it donetonight. Both teams played great defensively and we just missed out on a couple of plays that could’ve made the difference.”


The Southeastern defense put together a banner effort in the loss, holding the Cowboys to 284 total yards and 13 first downs. Senior linebackers Jake Jiannoni and Sione Teuhema led SLU with 10 tackles each.

Teuhema also had two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for the Lions. The Keller, Texas native leads the team and ranks among the FCS leaders with 17.0 tackles for loss and nine sacks on the season. Senior defensive back Jeff Williams II added a sack in the final road game of his Southeastern career.

The Southeastern offense could never get it going against a Cowboy defense that came into the game ranked among the national leaders in rushing, total and scoring defense.


Sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Nunez was limited to 99 yards passing on 11-of-33 passing with a pair of interceptions, while the Lions finished with 77 yards rushing on the ground.

Senior Dominique Hill led the Cowboys with 13 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Junior David Hamm led the McNeese offense with 80 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

On the opening drive of the game, the Lions picked up a couple of first downs before Nunez fumbled to give the Cowboys the ball inside SLU territory. However, on fourth-and-one, SLU freshman defensive end Ron Cherry dropped sophomore Justin Pratt for a loss to keep McNeese off the board.

Southeastern moved into McNeese territory on the ensuing drive, but senior Eugene Bethea was stuffed on fourth-and-short to end SLU’s threat. The Lion defense forced McNeese into a three-and-out, but Nunez gave the Cowboys the ball right back on an interception by Hill.

The Cowboys moved into the Lion red zone as the opening period expired. However, consecutive sacks by Williams II and Teuhema forced a Cowboy punt.

As the defenses continued to dominate, it was the Lions’ special teams that allowed it to take the lead. First, a 62-yard punt by sophomore Ivy Wall was downed by SLU freshman Austin Mitchell at the McNeese two-yard line.

After the Southeastern defense forced a three-and-out, senior Max Lyons returned the ensuing punt 30 yards to the Cowboy 20-yard line. Lyons’ big return set up a 22-yard field goal by senior Dillon Burkhard that gave SLU a 3-0 halftime lead.

McNeese tied the game on the first drive of the third quarter. The Cowboys marched 66 yards on 12 plays and tied the game on a 37-yard field goal by junior Gunner Raborn to knot the game at 3-3 with 11:06left in the third quarter.

After forcing a SLU three-and-out, McNeese took the lead with a 12-play, 61-yard march. Raborn capped the drive with a 30-yard field goal to put the Cowboys ahead, 6-3, with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter.

After the teams continued to trade empty possessions, McNeese put the game away with just under five minutes left in the game. Hamm broke through for a 43-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys a 13-3 lead with 4:26 left in the contest.

Southeastern then drove into McNeese territory, but turned the ball over on downs. On the first play of the Cowboy drive, Williams II stripped Hamm and Teuhema fell on the loose ball to give the Lions the ball back at the McNeese 31-yard line. However, two plays later, Nunez was intercepted by sophomore Trent Jackson to give the Cowboys the ball back at their one-yard line.

The Lions had one last scoring chance in the final minute. However, Burkhard’s 42-yard field goal attempt missed wide right to allow McNeese to best the Lions for just the second time in Roberts’ six-year tenure at the helm of the SLU program.

SLU will have a week off before hosting Nicholls at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16 in the River Bell Classic to close out the season. The regular season finale between the Lions and Colonels can be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU 90.9 FM, Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, WFPR 1400 AM), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the TuneIn Radio app.

Prior to the SLU-Nicholls contest, Southeastern will honor the 2017 senior class. Bethea, Teuhema, Williams II, Lyons, Burkhard, Jiannoni, wide receiver Juwan Dickey, defensive back Ryan Sigers, defensive back Mayori Ellison, linebacker Lee Spight, running back Shamar Busby, quarterback Micah Thomas, defensive back Jonathan Lyles, defensive back Torrance Mosley, defensive back Courtney Rutledge, punter Jim Speights, defensive back Demareyeh Lane, offensive lineman Michael Vick, offensive lineman Paxton Sims, offensive lineman Travis Romero, offensive lineman Cyrus Ekugwum, wide receiver Joe Pack and defensive lineman Greg Hardaway II will be recognized in a special Senior Day ceremony.

SLU – 0 3 0 0 – 3 (5-5, 5-3 SLC)

MCN – 0 0 6 7 – 13 (7-2, 5-2 SLC)


Scoring Summary

1st Quarter

No scoring
2nd Quarter
SLU – Burkhard 22 FG, 1:01
3rd Quarter
MCN – Raborn 37 FG, 11:06
MCN – Raborn 30 FG, 4:42
4th Quarter

MCN – Hamm 43 run (Raborn kick), 4:26

SLU        MCN

FIRST DOWNS                                                 14           13                                            RUSHES-YARDS (NET)                                  43-77      36-89

PASSING YDS (NET)                                       99           195

Passes Att-Comp-Int                                          33-11-2   33-17-0

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS                76-176    69-284                                   Fumble Returns-Yards                                        0-0          0-0                                         Kickoff Returns-Yards                                       4-80        2-35

Punt Returns-Yards                                             4-46        2-(-1)

Interception Returns-Yards                                0-0          2-0

Punts (Number-Avg)                                           7-42.6     10-38.0

Fumbles-Lost                                                      2-1          1-1                                         Penalties-Yards                                                   4-46        8-79

Possession Time.                                                 29:31      30:29

Third-Down Conversions                                   5-of-18   2-of-16

Fourth-Down Conversions                                  1-of-4     1-of-2

Red Zone Scores-Chances                                  1-2          2-3

RUSHING: SLU – Bethea 12-27, Johnson 6-19, Maracalin 9-17, Nunez 9-11, Petit-Frere 2-5, Cooper 4-0, Walker 1-(-2). Totals – 43-77. MCN – Hamm 17-80, Pratt 13-30, Battiste 1-0, Team 1-(-3), Tabary 4-(-18). Totals – 36-89.


PASSING: SLU – Nunez 11-33-2-99-0. Totals – 11-33-2-99-0. MCN – Tabary 17-33-0-195-0. Totals – 17-33-0-195-0.


RECEIVING: SLU – Dickey 4-27, Jackson 2-23, Conner 2-19, Bethea 1-16, Ingraffia 1-2, Maracalin 1-2. Totals -11-99. MCN – Ross 5-56, Shelby 5-56, Pratt 2-43, Orgeron 2-17, Conerly 2-13, Hamm 1-10. Totals – 17-195.


A – 7,332.

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Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach