Southeastern set for Southland shootout with No. 5 SHSU
HAMMOND, La. – Two of the nation’s most prolific offenses will match up on Saturday, when Southeastern Louisiana hosts No. 5 Sam Houston State in a 7 p.m. Southland Conference gridiron showdown in Strawberry Stadium.
The Lions (5-3, 5-1 Southland) will host the defending league champion Bearkats (6-1, 4-1 Southland) in the first regular season meeting between the two teams since 2013. The two Southland rivals met in the 2013 and 2014 FCS Playoffs, with each team winning on their respective home turfs. The fifth-ranked Bearkats will be the highest-ranked opponent to visit Hammond since No. 4 SHSU visited and suffered a 34-21 loss to the Lions on Nov. 16, 2013.
The game versus the defending Southland champion Bearkats will double as Homecoming, rescheduled from Oct. 7 after Hurricane Nate cancelled scheduled festivities. There will be no parking in Friendship Circle and no traffic will be allowed in Friendship Circle after 10 a.m. Those with Friendship Circle parking passes will have access to Lot B parking.
The annual Homecoming parade is scheduled for 2 p.m. The 2017 Homecoming King and Queen will be announced at halftime of the SLU-SHSU Southland showdown. Saturday is also designated as Solid Gold Saturday, as all fans are encouraged to wear gold.
Sam Houston leads the nation with 45.4 points per game and is second nationally with 563.4 yards per game of total offense. Southeastern, which has scored 49 points or more and accumulated 500 yards or more of total offense in each game of its current five-match winning streak, has climbed into the FCS top five in scoring (42.0 ppg, 4th) and total (488.6 ypg) offense.
While both offenses are prolific, the Bearkats and Lions are racking up yards in different ways. Behind the reigning Walter Payton Award winner, senior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, the Bearkats are second nationally with 370.1 passing yards per game, while SLU’s outstanding offensive line has cleared the way for the nation’s No. 2 rushing attack (321.0 rushing ypg).
The Lions’ win streak has made the final gauntlet of three consecutive games versus ranked opponents a huge opportunity for Southeastern.
“We’re facing a tremendous challenge against a dynamic offense this weekend,” Southeastern head coach Ron Roberts said. “When we watched the tape, there’s no secret why they are ranked No. 5 in the country. Briscoe is a future NFL quarterback and they have weapons at every skill position. We’ll have to play very disciplined on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday.
“We’re going to have to do what we do on offense,” Roberts added. “We have to find a way to be successful running the football. This is going to be a great college football game and we’re hoping for a packed house in Strawberry Stadium.”
Sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Nunez has passed for 10 touchdowns and rushed for four scores directing the Lion offense. In the six games the newcomer from Kennesaw, Georgia has started, SLU is averaging 51.2 points and 556.5 yards per contest.
The Lions have a quartet of running backs sharing the ground production. Junior Darren Johnson leads Southeastern with 521 yards and four touchdowns, followed by freshman Marcus Cooper (503 yards, 2 TD) and senior Eugene Bethea (488-5 TD). Junior Julius Maracalin has added 309 rushing yards, while also leading the Southland with seven rushing touchdowns.
Senior Juwan Dickey is Nunez’s top target with 29 catches for 366 yards. Freshman Austin Mitchell paces Southeastern with four touchdown catches, while Dickey, as well as sophomores Bransen Schwebel and Zeke Jenkins have two scores apiece.
Briscoe is closing out a stellar career with a prolific senior campaign, as the Houston native has thrown for 2,516 yards and 22 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions.
Briscoe’s top targets are junior Davion Davis (45 catches, 692 yards, 9 TD) and sophomore Nathan Stewart (41-952-8 TD). The Bearkat passing game will be bolstered by the return of senior Yedidiah Louis, the reigning Southland Offensive Player of the Year, who will be back in the lineup after missing the past three games with an injury.
The SHSU rushing offense is led by the tandem of senior Corey Avery (509 yards, 6 TD) and junior Remus Bulmer (420-3 TD).
The Bearkat defense is allowing 28.9 points and 448.7 yards per contest, while SLU is yielding 28.3 points and 406.4 yards per outing. Senior linebacker Sione Teuhema (15.0 TFL, 8.0 sacks) and senior Max Lyons (73 tackles, 2 INT) lead Southeastern, while SHSU features one of FCS’ top pass rushing tandems in senior P.J. Hall (10.0 TFL, 5.0 sacks) and junior Chris Stewart (8.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks).
Both teams feature dynamic return games. SLU sophomore Juwan Petit-Frere leads the nation with a 38.6 yard kickoff return average and two kickoff return touchdowns. Louis and sophomore Jaylen Harris are dangerous on punt and kickoff returns, respectively, for the Bearkats. Filling in for Louis, Davis was named the Southland Special Teams Player of the Week after bringing back a punt for a score in last Saturday’s 63-27 victory over Lamar.
Following Saturday’s game, Southeastern will close out its regular season road schedule on Nov. 4 with a 6 p.m. game at No. 20 McNeese. The Lions-Cowboys showdown will be televised on Cox Sports Television and on ESPN3 outside of the CST viewing area. It will also be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU 90.9 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, Kajun 107.1 FM, WFPR 1400 AM), online at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the TuneIn Radio app.
Southeastern Louisiana (5-3, 5-1 Southland) vs. No. 5/5 Sam Houston State (6-1, 4-1 Southland)
Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017 | 7 p.m. | Hammond, La. | Strawberry Stadium (7,408)
Series History: SHSU leads 11-6
Last Meeting: Sam Houston State 21, Southeastern Louisiana 17 (Nov. 29, 2014 – Huntsville, Texas – NCAA Playoffs – 1st Round)
Announcers: Lyn Rollins, Rene Nadeau and Abby Morris
Radio: Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU 90.9, Kajun 107.1, The Highway 104.7, WFPR 1400)
Announcers: Mark Willoughby, Robbie Rhodes and Allen Waddell
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