No. 16 SLU falls victim to South Alabama second half surge

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MOBILE, Ala. – The reigning Southland Conference champion Southeastern Louisiana University football team led early, but South Alabama turned the tide on a way to a 35-17 victory in nonconference action Saturday afternoon at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

No. 16/17 Southeastern (0-2) held a 7-0 second-quarter lead over a South Alabama squad that returned 19 starters from last season’s 10-win team. However, the Jaguars (1-1) outscored SLU, 28-10, in the second half to spoil SLU’s upset bid.

Zachary Clement (18-for-24, 267 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) and Eli Sawyer (7-12, 83 yards) again split time under center for a Lion offense that finished with 412 total yards. Darius Lewis was Southeastern’s leading receiver with seven catches for 81 yards, while Harlan Dixon and Ivan Drobocky each found the end zone for SLU.

Tyrone Legette intercepted his first pass of the season to lead the Southeastern defensive effort. Reigning Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week Ian Goodly led SLU in tackles for the second straight week, finishing with a game-high 11 stops.

La’Damian Webb (seven carries for 81 yards, 2 TD) and Kentrel Bullock (14-82-1 TD) provided an effective 1-2 punch on the ground for South Alabama, each scoring two touchdowns. Carter Bradley finished 19-for-26 for 258 yards, a touchdown and an interception, engineering a South Alabama offense that finished with 509 total yards. Caullin Lacy was Bradley’s top target, finishing with 139 yards and a touchdown on a game-high eight receptions.

Southeastern dominated the opening quarter, but could not cash in on two productive drives. The opening march saw SLU bog down in Jaguar territory. After a quick three-and-out by South Alabama, the Lions were on the doorstep when Rodeo Graham Jr. fumbled at the goal line to give the Jaguars the ball back.

South Alabama drove into Southeastern territory as the game moved to the second quarter. However, a pair of penalties and a Kaleb Proctor tackle for loss forced USA to punt the ball back to SLU.

Clement came in and engineered a 12-play, 93-yard scoring drive to give SLU the lead. The Lion junior found Drobocky from three yards out to cap the march and give the Lions a 7-0 lead with 5:25 left in the second quarter.

South Alabama evened the ledger just over a minute later. Webb scampered in from two yards out to tie the score at 7-7 headed into the break.

Legette intercepted Bradley to quell South Alabama’s first drive of the third quarter, but the Lions went three-and-out on their first possession. On the next drive, South Alabama took the lead, as Webb darted in from 13 yards out to give the hosts a 14-7 advantage with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.

After a Southeastern three-and-out, South Alabama added to its lead, as Kentrel Bullock raced in from eight yards out to extend the Jaguars lead to 21-7 with 3:52 left in the third quarter.

SLU drove into Jaguar territory on its final drive of the third quarter and were forced to punt. On the first play of the final period, Lacy took a short pass from Bradley and housed it from 84 yards out to grow the South Alabama lead to 28-7 16 seconds into the fourth quarter.

On the next Lion drive, Clement found Hugley for a 76-yard catch-and-run to set up a 29-yard Riley Callaghan field goal to cut the Jaguar advantage to 28-10 with 12:09 left in the contest.

South Alabama then went on an over eight-minute scoring drive to provide the final Jaguars score. Marco Lee Jr. bounced around the left end for a 13-yard touchdown and a 35-10 with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

Southeastern scored in the final minute to lessen the final margin. Dixon scooted in from a yard out to cut the final deficit to 35-17.

SLU will close out its season-opening three-game road swing with a 3 p.m. (Central) contest at Eastern Washington Sept. 16 in Cheney, Washington. The Lions-Eagles matchup will be seen on ESPN+ and can be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, The Boss 103.7 FM/WFPR 1400 AM).

Season and single-game tickets for the 2023 home football season, which includes visits from HCU (Sept. 23), Tarleton State (Sept. 30), Lamar (Oct. 14), McNeese (Nov. 4) and Nicholls (Nov. 18) are available online at

SLU – 0 7 0 10 – 17 (0-2)
USA – 0 7 14 14 – 35 (1-1)

Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
No scoring
2nd Quarter
SLU – Drobocky 3 pass from Clement (Callaghan kick), 5:25
USA – Webb 2 run (Guajardo kick), 4:02
3rd Quarter
USA – Webb 13 run (Guajardo kick), 8:50
USA – Bullock 8 run (Guajardo kick), 3:52
4th Quarter
USA – Lacy 84 pass from Bradley (Guajardo kick), 14:44
SLU – Callaghan 29 FG, 12:09
USA – Lee Jr. run (Guajardo kick), 3:28
SLU – Dixon 1 run (Callaghan kick), 0:41

RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 26-62 35-248
Passes Att-Comp-Int 36-25-1 27-20-1
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 4-61 1-25
Punt Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 1-0 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 4-36.5 2-41.5
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 7-55 6-80
Possession Time. 31:51 28:09
Third-Down Conversions 5-of-11 6-of-12
Fourth-Down Conversions 0-of-0 3-of-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-4 4-4

RUSHING: SLU – Graham Jr. 8-33, Dixon 11-19, Clement 5-11, M. Williams 1-6, Sawyer 1-(-7). Totals – 26-62. USA – Bullock 14-82, Webb 7-81, Lee Jr. 11-68, Martin 3-19. Totals – 35-248.

PASSING: SLU – Clement 18-24-1-267-1, Sawyer 7-12-0-83-0. Totals – 25-36-1-350-1. USA – Bradley 19-26-1-258-1, Lopez 1-1-0-3-0. Totals – 20-27-1-261-1.

RECEIVING: SLU – Lewis 7-81, Dixon 5-62, Williams 3-40, Domingeaux 2-32, Sharp 2-30, Drobocky 2-9, Lorio 2-7, Hugley 1-76, Hill 1-13. Totals – 25-350. USA – Lacy 8-139, Voisin 4-70, Pritchett 3-36, Sefcik 2-10, Bullock 2-3, Justice 1-3. Totals – 20-261.

A –15,237

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