No. 17 Southeastern welcomes No. 18 Idaho for FCS playoff matchup

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NSU at SLU football
(Photo: Johnathan Mailhes)

No. 17/23 Southeastern (8-3) vs. No. 18/24 Idaho (7-4) | NCAA FCS Playoffs | First Round
Nov. 26, 2022 | 6 p.m. | Strawberry Stadium | Hammond, La.
Series History: First Meeting
Television: ESPN+ (Announcers: Jack Benjamin, LaDarrin McLane)
Radio: Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM (Announcers: Mark Willoughby, Allen Waddell and Robbie Rhodes)

HAMMOND, La. – For the second straight season and third time in the past four years, playoff football returns to Hammond, America, as the No. 17/23 Southeastern Louisiana University football team welcomes No. 18/24 Idaho to Strawberry Stadium for a first round contest in the NCAA FCS playoffs Saturday at 6 p.m.

Saturday’s game between the Southland Conference champion Lions (8-3) and the visiting Vandals (will be televised on ESPN+ and can be heard live on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM). The winner of the SLU-Idaho tilt will travel to face sixth-seeded Samford in the second round Saturday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m.

League champion Southeastern placed an SLC-high 13 players on the All-Southland team under SLC Coach of the Year Frank Scelfo. Offensive Lineman of the Year John Allen was joined on the first team by punter Austin Dunlap, kick returner Gage Larvadain, as well as defensive backs Jack Henderson, Zy Alexander and Ferlando Jordan.

Larvadain was also a second team selection at wide receiver. Other second team SLU representatives were running back Carlos Washington Jr., tight end Ivan Drobocky, offensive lineman Dom Serapiglia III, offensive lineman Jhy Orgeron, kicker Riley Callaghan, defensive end Arlen Williams and linebacker Donte’ Daniels.

Southeastern, which is making its fifth postseason appearance in school history, comes into Saturday’s contest on a five-game winning streak. The Lions clinched their third SLC title and first since 2014 after rolling past Nicholls, 40-17, in last Thursday’s regular season finale.

Southeastern finished with 423 total yards in Thursday’s win, as Eli Sawyer completed 19-of-24 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns – including two to Drobocky. The other touchdown reception was by Jessie Britt, who led the Lions with 90 yards on 11 carries.

Southeastern comes into the postseason averaging 33.8 points and 431.4 yards per contest. Sawyer (121-for-194, 1,605 yards, 11 TD, 1 INT) and Cephus Johnson III (101-158, 1,146 yards, 10 TD, 5 INT) have split time under center for the Lions.

Larvadain (45 catches, 582 yards, 2 TD) and Maurice Massey (32-432-4 TD) are the top targets in the passing game, while Drobocky has a team-high six receiving touchdowns. Carlos Washington Jr. (586 yards, 11 TD), Johnson III (419-3 TD) and Britt (374-5 TD) are the top rushers for the Lions.

The Lion defense limited Nicholls to 270 total yards Thursday, forcing the Colonels into four turnovers. Alexander and Brandon Barbee each recorded interceptions, while Ian Goodly and Anthony Britton Jr. forced fumbles that were recovered by Donniel Ward-Magee and Cullan Scott. Henderson paced SLU with nine tackles.

Opponents are averaging 22.5 points and 374.9 yards per contest versus Southeastern. Daniels leads the team with 79 tackles, followed by Herman Christophe (74), Henderson (69), Britton Jr. (65) and Ward-Magee (58). Christophe, Henderson, Ward-Magee, Alexander and Barbee share team-high honors with two interceptions apiece.

Dunlap leads the Southland Conference and is eighth in the SLC with a 43.7 punting average. Callaghan has made a league-high 14 field goals, while Darius Lewis (10.4) and Larvadain (25.0) leads the Southland among qualifiers in punt and kick return averages, respectively.

Idaho is making its first playoff appearance since returning to the FCS from the FBS prior to the 2018 season. The Vandals made 11 appearances in the postseason from 1982-95 during its previous stint as an FCS member.

The Vandals finished 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference after closing out the regular season with a 38-7 victory over Idaho State last Saturday.

Idaho comes ito Hammond averaging 35.4 points and 430.4 yards per contest. Geovani McCoy (2,376 yards, 25 TD, 5 INT), a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award as the nation’s top freshman, leads the Vandal offense with Hayden Hatten (74 catches, 1,000 yards, 15 TD) and Jermaine Jackson (938-4 TD) his top targets. Anthony Woods leads Idaho on the ground with 814 yards, while Roshaun Johnson has a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns.

Idaho is yielding 23.6 points and 325.4 yards per contest. Fa’Avae Fa’Avae leads the Vandals with 99 tackles, while Tommy McCormick, Paul Moala and Murvin Kenion III share team-high honors with four interceptions apiece.

TICKETS
For ticket information, contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net. Southeastern will continue offering mobile ticketing as the primary source for securing tickets for the 2022-23 season. All tickets will be available via e-mail or text message in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

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

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