Southeastern welcomes Lamar for Southland home opener

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HAMMOND, La. – The Southeastern Louisiana football team will open its Southland Conference home schedule on Saturday, hosting Lamar at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium for Military Appreciation Day and the annual Hall of Fame Game.

In honor of Military Appreciation Day, military personnel can present their military ID at the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office to receive a free ticket to Saturday’s game. The 2017 Southeastern Athletics Hall of Fame class of Tommy Connors (football), Cass Hargis (baseball) and Kari Yost (soccer) will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game.

Both the Lions (0-3, 0-1 Southland) and the visiting Cardinals (1-2, 0-1 Southland) will be searching for their first league victories. Nationally-ranked Central Arkansas pulled away in the second half for a 38-6 victory over SLU in last Saturday’s conference opener, while Lamar’s rally fell short in a 35-28 loss at Northwestern State.

“Defensively we have done some good things, but we have to concentrate on being more consistent,” Southeastern head coach Ron Roberts said. “We obviously need to find ways to put some points on the board on offense. We’re seeing improvement in a lot of areas, but we need a win to hopefully start getting the momentum on our side as we move forward.”

After an offensive explosion in the season opener at UL Lafayette, the Lion offense has slowed down the last two games. Roberts has been forced to empty his bench at the quarterback position, as Southeastern has used four different players under center. The quartet of signal callers marks the most the Lions have used in a season since the program’s return in 2003.

Sophomore Lorenzo Nunez, who started the season opener and saw limited action at UCA, will be a game-time decision again versus Lamar. Should Nunez be sidelined, Roberts will tag freshman Byron Walker for his first collegiate start. The Sulphur, Louisiana native took his first snaps last weekend in Conway.

No matter who is under center for the Lions, they will be backed by the Southland’s most prolific rushing attack, as a deep and veteran offensive line has cleared the way for SLU to average a league-best 245.3 rushing yards per game. Senior Eugene Bethea leads the league with 324 rushing yards, while junior Julius Maracalin (166 yards) is getting closer to 2016 form each game.

The Lions will be facing a Lamar defense that has allowed 399.3 yards and 33.3 points per game through the first three weeks. Freshman David Crosley tops the Cardinals with 27 tackles, while his brother Daniel paces the squad with three sacks.

On the offensive side, SMU transfer and junior quarterback Darrel Colbert Jr. leads the Cardinals. In his debut season with LU, he has seven touchdown passes and 466 yards passing to go with 175 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore Kendrick King is second to Bethea in the Southland with 250 rushing yards.

The Lion defense has been led by senior Max Lyons, who ranks eighth in the Southland with 25 tackles and is joined in the league’s top 15 by fellow seniors Sione Teuhema (23, 9th) and Jeff Williams II (22, 13th). Teuhema also is tied for the league with five tackles for loss and has a team-high two sacks.

Southeastern’s continued improvement on special teams could be a key factor in Saturday’s game. Sophomore Juwan Petit-Frere leads the FCS with 402 kickoff return yards and is third nationally with 33.5 yards per kickoff return. Lyons carries a 19.4 yard per punt return average into Saturday’s contest.

The Lions have also been solid in the kicking game. Senior Dillon Burkhard is 5-for-7 on field goal attempts and hasn’t missed a PAT, while sophomore Ivy Wall is averaging 42.0 yards per punt through the first three games.

Following Saturday’s contest with the Cardinals, Southeastern will head to Natchitoches for a 6:30 p.m. Southland clash on Sept. 30 at Northwestern State. The game will air live on Cox Sports Television and on ESPN3 outside of the CST viewing area. The contest can also be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU 90.9 FM, Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, WFPR 1400 AM), online at and via the TuneIn Radio app.

Southeastern Louisiana (0-3, 0-1 Southland) vs. Lamar (1-2, 0-1 Southland)

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 | 7 p.m. | Hammond, La. | Strawberry Stadium (7,408)

Military Appreciation Day | Hall of Fame Game

Series History: SLU leads, 8-4

Last Meeting: Lamar 38, Southeastern Louisiana 14 (10/1/16 – Beaumont, Texas)

Television: Southeastern Channel (Tape-Delay) / Southland Digital Network

Announcers: John Sartori, Wesley Boone and Richie Solares

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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