No. 19 Southeastern uses third-quarter surge to top Northwestern State, 44-27

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SLU at NSU football 2019
(Photo: Randy Bergeron)

NATCHITOCHES, La. – Southeastern Louisiana used a 20-3 third quarter to pull away for a 44-27 victory over Northwestern State in Southland Conference football action Saturday night at Turpin Stadium.

The Lions (3-1, 2-0 Southland) racked up 537 total yards on the way to its first 2-0 league start since 2015. Northwestern State (0-5, 0-2 Southland) lost its eighth straight meeting versus SLU.

SLU senior Chason Virgil again was dynamite under center for the Lions, throwing for 344 yards and a touchdown on 24-of-32 passing. The 300-yard passing performance was the third straight for the Mesquite, Texas native. Cole Kelley also tossed a touchdown and ran for a score in Virgil’s stead.

CJ Turner (seven catches, 128 yards and a touchdown), Bransen Schwebel (5-70) and Austin Mitchell (4-95) were the three top receiving threats for a SLU offense that racked up 26 first downs. The Lions utilized nine different receivers and did not punt until the fourth quarter.

With top rushers Devonte Williams and Marcus Cooper each missing the game, Taron Jones stepped up to lead the Lion ground attack, finishing with 108 yards and two scores on 18 carries. In his collegiate debut, Kendall Collins Jr. rushed for 31 yards and a score.

The Lion defense held NSU to 45 rushing yards for the game and 36 total yards in the pivotal third quarter. Alexis Ramos led SLU with eight tackles and two tackles for loss, as he and Xavier Lewis each had a sack.

Shelton Eppler completed 35-of-55 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Demons. His top targets were Quan Shorts (11 catches, 110 yards, 2 TD) and Akile Davis (11-103).

First Quarter
After stopping Northwestern State on the first drive of the game, SLU took the lead on its first drive. A 46-yard catch-and-run by Mitchell highlighted a seven-play, 65-yard march. Bryce Broussard connected on a 34-yard field goal to put SLU ahead, 3-0, with 9:18 left in the opening period.

The Demons answered on the ensuing possession. Shorts took a fourth-and-seven slant from Eppler 26 yards for a NSU touchdown and a 7-3 lead with 7:16 remaining in the first quarter.

Southeastern came right back with an eight-play, 85-yard scoring march. Virgil found Mitchell from 35 yards out to put the Lions ahead, 10-7, with 3:49 left in the first quarter.

Second Quarter
A fake punt highlighted a Northwestern State drive that moved deep in Lion territory as the game progressed to the second quarter. However, on a fourth-and-one, Mike Mason stopped Eppler short to end the Demon threat.

However, Northwestern State got the ball right back, as Adrion Robertson stripped Kelley and Dan Whitfield recovered at the Lion 20-yard line. The turnover set up a 19-yard Eppler scoring toss to Kendrick Price Jr. to give the Demons a 14-10 advantage with 9:17 left in the second quarter.

Southeastern answered with a nine-play, 71-yard scoring drive to retake the lead. Kelley capped the march, powering in from a yard out to put the Lions up, 17-14, with 4:43 left in the half.

NSU tied it up with a drive to end the opening half. A couple of Lion penalties highlighted a 15-play, 72-yard drive that Ryan Gremillion capped with a 24-yard field goal to tie the score at 17-17 at the half.

Third Quarter
Northwestern State struck the first blow of the second half, as William Hooper stripped Virgil and JaBralen Yarber pounced on the loose ball at the Lion 34-yard line. However, a sack by Lewis sniffed out the Demon threat and SLU forced a punt.

SLU took the ensuing drive into Northwestern State territory, but turned the ball over on downs. The Demons took advantage of three Lion penalties on a seven-play, 53-yard drive that Gremillion capped with a 25-yard field goal to give NSU a 20-17 advantage with 9:12 left in the period.

Southeastern answered right back on the ensuing drive. Virgil found Turner on consecutive completions for 51 yards to highlight a six-play, 67-yard scoring drive. Jones dove in from five yards out to put the Lions up, 24-20, with 7:07 left in the third quarter.

After the Lion defense forced a three-and-out, SLU struck again. On the first play after the Demon punt, Kelley found a wide-open Turner for a 46-yard touchdown and a 31-20 advantage with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter.

After another Southeastern stop, the Lions marched 86 yards on eight plays. Collins Jr. raced around right end from 25 yards out to give Southeastern a 37-20 lead with less than a minute left in the third quarter.

Fourth Quarter
The two teams traded punts to open the fourth quarter before Northwestern State cut into the lead later in the period. Eppler found Shorts from 17 yards out to pull NSU within, 37-27, with 4:30 remaining.

SLU clinched the game on the ensuing drive. A 55-yard run by Jones highlighted an eight-play, 73-yard drive that iced the victory. Jones scampered in from two yards out to secure the final 44-27 margin for Southeastern.

Up Next
Southeastern will play its second straight in-state Southland foe on the road Saturday, facing McNeese at 4 p.m. in Lake Charles. The game will air on Cox Sports Television and ESPN+ (outside of the CST viewing area). 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 and via the Radio FX and TuneIn Radio apps.

SLU – 10 7 20 7 – 44 (3-1, 2-0 SLC)
NSU – 7 10 3 7 – 27 (0-5, 0-2 SLC)

Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
SLU – Broussard 34 FG, 9:18
NSU – Shorts 26 pass from Eppler (Gremillion kick), 7:16
SLU – Mitchell 35 pass from Virgil (Broussard kick), 3:49
2nd Quarter
NSU – Price 19 pass from Eppler (Gremillion kick), 9:17
SLU – Kelley 1 run (Broussard kick), 4:43
NSU – Gremillion 24 FG, 0:00
3rd Quarter
NSU – Gremillion 25 FG, 9:12
SLU – Jones 5 run (Broussard kick), 7:07
SLU – Turner 46 pass from Kelley (Broussard kick), 5:59
4th Quarter
NSU – Shorts 17 pass from Eppler (Gremillion kick), 4:30
SLU – Jones 2 run (Broussard kick), 0:48

RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 35-143 22-45
Passes Att-Comp-Int 34-26-0 55-35-0
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 5-49 6-139
Punt Returns-Yards 1-4 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 1-34.0 5-39.8
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 13-130 13-131
Possession Time. 30:30 29:30
Third-Down Conversions 10-of-13 5-of-16
Fourth-Down Conversions 0-of-1 3-of-4
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-4 4-5

RUSHING: SLU – Jones 18-108, Collins Jr. 3-31, Kelley 7-12, Mitchell 1-8, Virgil 4-14, Magee 1-0, Team 1-(-16). Totals 35-143. NSU – West 13-24, Robertson 1-20, Williams 1-1, Eppler 7-(-11). Totals – 22-45.

PASSING: SLU – Virgil 24-32-0-344-1, Kelley 2-2-0-50-1. Totals 26-34-0-394-2. NSU – Eppler 35-55-0-333-3. Totals – 35-55-0-333-3.

RECEIVING: SLU – Turner 7-128, Schwebel 5-70, Mitchell 4-95, Conner 3-25, Magee 2-28, Jones 2-14, DeBlaiso 1-27, Collins Jr. 1-5, Dawson 1-2. Totals 26-394. NSU – Shorts 11-110, Davis 11-103, Price 4-39, Landry 4-24, West 3-33, Ash 2-24. Totals – 35-333.

A – 7.584.

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