Nationally-ranked Southeastern begins road schedule at Ole Miss
HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Louisiana football team will open its road schedule on Saturday, facing FBS foe Ole Miss at 3 p.m. at Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.
The game between the Lions (1-0) and the host Rebels (1-1) will air on the SEC Network Alternate channel. It also can be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU-FM (90.9), Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM WFPR), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX and TuneIn Radio apps.
The Lions opened the season with a 35-14 victory over No. 6 Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks are the highest-ranked team Southeastern has defeated since a 34-21 victory over No. 4 Sam Houston State during the 2013 season.
As a result of the Aug. 29 win, Southeastern made its debut in the STATS FCS Top 25 at No. 23. The Lions returned to the national poll for the first time since Oct. 12, 2015, when SLU was ranked No. 21 in the coaches poll and No. 23 in the STATS poll.
The Lions had its game at Bethune-Cookman last Saturday cancelled due to potential impacts from Hurricane Dorian. As a result, SLU will head into Saturday’s game with over two weeks of rest.
In the season opening victory, Jacksonville State, which has advanced to the FCS playoffs in each of the past six seasons, finished with 481 total yards, but the aggressive Lion defense’s debut under new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was opportunistic and keyed Thursday’s victory. SLU sacked JSU quarterback preseason OVC Player of the Year Zerrick Cooper six times and intercepted the Gamecock junior twice.
SLU senior Shawntrez Spates set up a touchdown with a first quarter pick, while sophomore Ferlando Jordan took back a third-quarter interception 65 yards back for a touchdown. Mike Mason, Joshua Carr Jr., Dwaine Thomas, Alexis Ramos, Will Douglas, Ronald Cherry III and Fred Brown each were credited with at least a partial sack, as SLU harassed Cooper throughout.
Mason led SLU with 11 tackles, while Tre’ Spann and Donniel Ward-Magee each finished with 10 stops apiece. Carr led the Lions with 2.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups.
The Lion offense was efficient with Chason Virgil (11-for-24, 164 yards, 1 TD) and Cole Kelley (5-for-9, 74 yards, 2 TD) splitting time under center. Austin Mitchell (four catches, 86 yards), Devonte Williams (4-76) and Bransen Schwebel (3-33) each caught touchdowns, while Williams also rushed for a score.
Former Ole Miss letterwinner Micheal Spurlock will return to his alma mater, as he is in his second season on the Southeastern coaching staff as wide receivers coach. Spurlock spent his collegiate career at Ole Miss, where in 2005 he was the Rebels’ starting quarterback for eight games as a senior and represented the program at SEC Media Days. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss in 2005.
Though Southeastern has not played the Rebels since 2009, SLU’s top two quarterbacks have played in Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium. Virgil threw for a pair of touchdowns in a 73-21 loss to the Rebels as a true freshman in 2015. Kelley threw for three touchdowns and led Arkansas to a 38-37 victory over Ole Miss as a redshirt freshman in 2017.
Ole Miss opened the season with a 15-10 loss to Memphis, but bounced back with a 31-17 victory over Arkansas last Saturday in the Southeastern Conference opener.
Matt Corral is the signal caller for a Rebel offense that is averaging 328.0 yards per game thus far this season. Corral has thrown for 339 yards and two touchdowns versus one interception in the first two games of 2019.
Elijah Moore (11 catches, 190 yards, 2 TD) has been the favorite target for Corral in the early going. Scottie Phillips (45 carries, 206 yards, 3 TD) has handled the majority of the ground work for Ole Miss.
On defense, opponents are average 16.0 points and 362.5 yards per game versus the Rebels. Keidron Smith (12 tackles), Josiah Coatney (11), Ryder Anderson (10), Jacquez Jones (10) and Lakia Henry (10) all have double-digit tackles for Ole Miss.
Saturday’s game will be the second meeting between the two teams. Back in 2009, then-No. 5 Ole Miss defeated the Lions, 52-6, in Oxford. Southeastern is 0-24 versus Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents since the program returned prior to the 2003 season.
Southeastern will return home to open Southland Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 21, hosting Lamar at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. The game will air on ESPN+. It also can be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU-FM (90.9), Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM WFPR), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX and TuneIn Radio apps.
The SLU-Lamar game will also double as the annual Hall of Fame Game. The 2019 Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame class of Bryan Bennett (football), Stefan Lopez (baseball), Karin Smith Gadberry (softball) and Simmie Yarborough (football) will be inducted in a private ceremony earlier in the day and recognized at halftime of the Lions-Cardinals contest.
It will also be Solid Gold Saturday in Strawberry Stadium. Fans are encouraged to wear gold and the first 500 fans will receive free gold t-shirts courtesy of McDonald’s and Southeastern Athletics.
The annual Family Day promotion in conjunction with The Office of Student Engagement will happen before the game with exclusive perks. Visit http://www.southeastern.edu/admin/lead_dev/dsala/family_day/index.html for more Family Day information.
For ticket information, please contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net/tickets. The Lions’ remaining home schedule will see SLU welcome Southland Conference foes Lamar (Sept. 21), UIW (Oct. 12), Stephen F. Austin (Nov. 2) and Nicholls (Nov. 21).
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