By Kemmler Chapple
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This story is courtesy of www.LionSports.net
HOUSTON, TX. — Southeastern Louisiana senior running back Kody Sutton rushed for a career-high 156 yards, while the Lion defense held Houston Baptist at bay in a 22-7 Southland Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium.
Playing the majority of the game in a driving rain storm, the Lions (4-3, 3-2 Southland) avoided its first three-game losing skid since 2012.
SLU held HBU (2-6, 0-5 Southland) to 199 total yards in the game to defeat the Huskies for the second straight season.
With Mother Nature making the conditions less than conducive for the offenses, Sutton led a Lion ground attack that grinded out 288 rushing yards.
Sophomore Eugene Bethea (45 yards) and freshman Julius Maracalin (41 yards, 1 TD) were the other key contributors to the Lion ground game.
SLU junior quarterback D’Shaie Landor was efficient in the passing game, completing 12-of-19 passes for 167 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Junior Brandon Acker led the Lions with three catches for 62 yards, while junior Da’Quan Smith caught a touchdown.
The Lion defense was dominant throughout, as HBU managed just 10 first downs. With the SLU defense making liberal use of its bench, junior defensive end Miki Fangatua was the standout with a sack, two tackles for loss and a safety scored.
Fangatua, junior Kaelyn Henderson, junior Will Hines, senior Dereck Robinson and junior Tre’ Bennett had a team-high four tackles each.
The Southeastern secondary was especially dialed in on Saturday. The Lions limited HBU to 29 yards passing, forcing the Houston Baptist quarterback duo of Max Staver and Tony Dawson into a combined 5-for-15 passing.
After stopping HBU on its opening drive, the Lions took the ball deep into HBU territory. However, the drive stalled and freshman kicker Jonathan Tatum missed a 39-yard field goal wide left to keep SLU off the board.
The Lion defense gave Southeastern the lead late in the first quarter.
Three plays after freshman Harrison Heim downed a 50-yard punt at the one-yard line, Fangatua tackled sophomore B.J. Kelly in the end zone and the Lions took a 2-0 lead with 3:30 left in the opening quarter.
After the free kick, the Lions drove for their first touchdown of the game. A 34-yard return by junior William French set up SLU with good field position at the HBU 43-yard line.
Six plays later, Landor found Smith on a 10-yard quick slant for a 9-0 Lion lead in the final minute of the first quarter. The touchdown was the first of Smith’s SLU career.
After forcing another punt, the Lions were methodically working their way down the field on its first drive of the second quarter and had moved into Husky territory. However, HBU sophomore La’Travien Gee stripped Landor to give the Huskies the ball back at their 34-yard line and end the SLU scoring threat.
After Southeastern stopped HBU on the ensuing possession, the Lions took over at their own 20-yard line with 2:15 remaining.
Landor connected on long passes to senior Dylan Bossier (35 yards) and Acker (27 yards) to highlight a quick five-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Senior Trey Hallman capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown on an end around to give SLU a 16-0 lead in the final minute of the half, sending the Lions into the break in control.
HBU was the first offense to mount a major threat in the second half, moving into Lion territory. However, on a fourth and one, juniors Javari Nichols and Caleb Young threw sophomore Terrance Peters for a loss to give SLU the ball back.
A 25-yard run by sophomore Eugene Bethea and a 24-yard pass from Landor to Acker set the Lions up with a goal-to-go situation as the game entered the fourth quarter. However, Bethea fumbled at the two-yard line and Husky junior cornerback pounced on the loose ball to give HBU the ball back.
HBU couldn’t do anything with the ball and the Lions took over at their own 34-yard line. Sutton broke loose for a 50-yard run on the opening play to move into the red zone.
Three plays later, Maracalin walked in from five yards out to add to the Lion lead. Tatum missed the extra point, but the Lion lead was pushed to 22-0 with 9:24 remaining.
Southeastern’s bid for its first shutout since a 27-0 win over Northwestern State in 2009 was ended on the next Houston Baptist possession. Peters broke free down the right sideline and raced 77 yards to cut the SLU lead to 22-7 with 8:38 left in the game. The play accounted for more than a third of HBU’s offense on the day.
After the two teams traded punts, Southeastern was able to finish the game by taking the final 6:45 off the clock.
Using a steady dose of Sutton, Maracalin and Bethea, the Lions churned away to give SLU its third league win of the season. For the game, SLU controlled the clock for nearly 37 minutes.
Saturday’s game was the first of two away from home for the Lions, who will travel to Central Arkansas for a 7 p.m. game on Halloween night in Conway, Arkansas.
The game will be televised by ESPN3 at WatchESPN.com and via the WatchESPN app. The contest with the Bears can also be heard on KSLU-FM (90.9) and LionSports.net, as well as affiliates and Northshore Broadcasting stations Kajun 107.1 FM (WHMD) and The Highway 104.7 FM (WJSH).
SLU – 9 7 0 6 – 22 (4-3, 3-2 SLC)
HBU – 0 0 0 7 – 7 (2-6, 0-5 SLC)
SLU – Fangatua Safety, 3:30
SLU – Smith 7 pass from Landor (Tatum kick), 0:27
SLU – Hallman 2 run (Tatum kick), 0:58
SLU – Maracalin 5 run (Tatum kick failed), 9:24
HBU – Peters 77 run (Shinn kick), 8:38
FIRST DOWNS 24 10 RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 58-288 36-170
PASSING YDS (NET) 167 29
Passes Att-Comp-Int 19-12-1 15-5-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS. 77-455 51-199
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 3-47 4-43
Punt Returns-Yards 1-10 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 0-0 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 4-36.8 8-48.8
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 3-0
Penalties-Yards 7-52 5-45
Possession Time. 36:51 23:09
Third-Down Conversions 6-of-14 1-of-12
Fourth-Down Conversions 1-of-1 0-of-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-5 0-0
RUSHING: SLU – Sutton 23-156, Bethea 6-45, Maracalin 13-41, Ingraffia 3-18, French 5-16, Smith 1-5, Bennett 1-5, Hallman 1-2, Landor 5-0. Totals – 58-288. HBU – Peters 16-139, Wallace 4-32, Hall 2-7, Fry 2-5, Kelly 5-2, Staver 7-(-15). Totals 36-170.
PASSING: SLU – Landor 12-19-1-167. Totals – 12-19-1-167. HBU – Staver 4-12-0-23, Dawson 1-3-0-6. Totals 15-5-0-29.
RECEIVING: SLU – Acker 3-62, French 3-24, Johnson 2-26, Bennett 2-10, Bossier 1-35, Smith 1-10. Totals – 12-167. HBU – Brown 2-17, Peters 1-5.
A – 1,730.