Turnovers costly as No. 23 Southeastern rally falls short in 27-21 Homecoming loss to UIW

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HAMMOND, La. – No. 23/25 Southeastern Louisiana could not overcome six turnovers in a 27-21 Homecoming loss to UIW on Homecoming Saturday evening in Strawberry Stadium.

SLU (3-3, 2-2 Southland) outgained the visiting Cardinals, 515-317, but could not make up for four interceptions and two lost fumbles. The Lions were also penalized 13 times for 120 yards, allowing UIW (4-2, 3-1 Southland) to extend its win streak to three games.

“We lost a tough game to a good team tonight,” Southeastern head coach Frank Scelfo said. “We had six turnovers and five false starts, so there’s no way you can have the expectation of beating a team that won our conference and went to the playoffs with that type of performance. We competed for 60 minutes and I was really proud of the effort from our defense, but we have to clean up those self-inflicted mistakes. But give UIW credit for finding a way to win.”

SLU senior quarterback Chason Virgil topped 300 passing yards for the fifth straight game, completing 33-of-46 passes for 337 yards and a touchdown, but set a career high with four interceptions.

CJ Turner (nine catches, 74 yards), Javon Conner (5-61), Austin Mitchell (4-87-1 TD) and Bransen Schwebel (4-70) were the top pass catches for the Lions. Marcus Cooper led SLU with 59 yards and a score on nine carries.

Ashton Preston had two interceptions to lead the UIW defense, while Isiah Paul and Jaylon Jimmerson each had one pick each. Paul also forced and recovered a fumble, while Kristian Drake also recovered a fumble for the Cardinals.

Trae Drake led SLU with 10 tackles, while Ronald Cherry III led SLU with two sacks. Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund and Josh Carr Jr. each had a sack as well. Cherry III paced SLU with 3.5 tackles for loss, while Adeyemi-Berglund (3.0 TFL) and Xavier Lewis (2.0 TFL) also had multiple stops behind the line of scrimmage.

UIW quarterback Jon Copeland, the reigning Southland Freshman of the Year, threw for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-27 passing, connecting with Lamont Johnson and Brady Rogers on scoring throws. Ameer King (18 carries, 94 yards, 1 TD) and Keyondrick Philio (10-73-1 TD) led the Cardinal ground attack.

First Quarter
After Southeastern forced UIW to punt on the game’s opening drive, the Lions took the early lead. A powerful 17-yard run by Cole Kelley highlighted an eight-play, 89-yard scoring march. Mitchell got behind the Cardinal defense for a 48-yard touchdown pass from Virgil and a 7-0 lead for the Lions with 10:11 left in the opening quarter.

UIW countered with a drive into SLU territory. However, on fourth-and-five from the Lion 28-yard line, Cherry III sacked Copeland to give the ball back to the Lions.

Southeastern drove right back into Cardinal territory, but Paul stripped Devonte Williams and fell on the loose ball at the UIW 33-yard line.

After the two teams traded punts, UIW got on the board via a 25-yard Carson Mohr field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 29 seconds remaining in the period.

Second Quarter
On the first play of the second quarter, Paul stepped in front of a Virgil pass and took it back 45 yards to give the Cardinals their first lead, 10-7, just 11 seconds into the second quarter.

Southeastern again advanced into UIW territory on the next drive, however Preston snagged a Virgil pass at the Cardinal 20-yard line to end another Lion scoring threat.

The two teams traded punts, before UIW put together its best drive of the game. A 28-yard Copeland-to-Jaelin Campbell strike was the most impactful play of an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Copeland found an open Rogers from 18 yards out to extend the UIW advantage to 17-7 with 4:09 left in the half.

Cooper took the ensuing kickoff back 42 yards to midfield. Conner got loose on a 31-yard catch-and-run to set up SLU inside the Cardinal 10-yard line and three plays later, Kelley slid in from a yard out to cut the lead to 17-14 going into halftime.

Third Quarter
The two teams once again traded punts to open the second half, before UIW was able to force another turnover. Preston picked off Virgil at the Cardinal 36-yard line to end another SLU drive.

UIW then worked the ball into a first-and-goal from the Lion two-yard line. Pat Johnson and Cherry III combined to stuff Philio on three straight runs and the Cardinals had to settle for a 19-yard Mohr field goal and a 20-14 advantage with 4:39 left in the third quarter.

Southeastern again moved into Cardinal territory on the final drive of the third quarter. On the final play of the period, Virgil overshot Turner on a fourth-and-three to give UIW the ball back at its own 24-yard line to start the final period.

Fourth Quarter
UIW took advantage of the turnover on downs and responded with a methodical 12-play, 76-yard drive that took 5:37 off the clock. The final 21 yards of the march came when Johnson hauled in Copeland pass that was deflected off the hands of Lion cornerback Ferlando Jordan. Johnson’s score put UIW up, 27-14, with 9:23 left in the contest.

SLU fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing UIW to take over in Southeastern territory. However, the Lion defense stiffened and forced the Cardinals to punt.

Playing with a sense of urgency, the Lions raced down the field on a nine-play, 84-yard scoring drive that took just over two minutes off the dial. Cooper raced around left end and dove inside the pylon for a 16-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 27-21 with 5:54 remaining.

Southeastern gave its offense the ball back after tackles for loss by Adeyemi-Berglund and Lewis highlighted a quick three-and-out. Virgil found Mitchell for 15 yards and Schwebel for 11 yards to move into UIW territory, but Jimmerson grabbed a tipped pass and returned it 33 yards to the Cardinal 43-yard line with just under four minutes remaining.

UIW bled nearly two minutes off the clock on its next drive, but Southeastern forced a punt to give SLU one last chance. Virgil completed five straight passes to move SLU inside the UIW 40-yard line.

On second-and-six, Williams was stopped for no gain, then SLU was called for a snap infraction to face a third-and-11 from the 44-yard line. Turner was tackled two yards short on a pass from Virgil to set up a fourth-and-two.

Virgil’s pass to Schwebel was a little behind and UIW’s Gerald Bowie made a big hit to ensure it wouldn’t be completed, turning the ball on downs over to the Cardinals. Copeland took one kneel down to allow the defending Southland Conference co-champions leave Strawberry Stadium with its second straight win over the Lions.

Up Next
Southeastern will enjoy its bye week before traveling to Houston Baptist for a 2 p.m. contest on Oct. 26. Television plans will be announced on Monday, October 14. The game 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 www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX and TuneIn Radio apps.

UIW – 3 14 3 7 – 27 (4-2, 3-1 SLC)
SLU – 7 7 0 7 – 21 (3-3, 2-2 SLC)

Scoring Summary
1st Quarter
SLU – Mitchell 48 pass from Virgil (Broussard kick), 10:11
UIW – Mohr 25 FG, 0:29
2nd Quarter
UIW – Paul 45 interception return (Mohr kick), 14:49
UIW – Rogers 18 pass from Copeland (Mohr kick), 4:09
SLU – Kelley 1 run (Broussard kick), 1:12
3rd Quarter
UIW – Mohr 19 FG, 4:39
4th Quarter
UIW – Johnson 21 pass from Copeland (Mohr kick), 9:23
SLU – Cooper 16 run (Broussard kick), 5:54

RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 44-170 35-178
Passes Att-Comp-Int 27-14-0 46-33-4 TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 71-317 81-515 Fumble Returns-Yards 2-0 2-2
Kickoff Returns-Yards 2-60 6-124
Punt Returns-Yards 2-32 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 4-79 0-0 Punts (Number-Avg) 8-37.4 3-43.3 Fumbles-Lost 2-0 2-2 Penalties-Yards 6-40 13-120
Possession Time. 29:42 30:18
Third-Down Conversions 5-of-16 8-of-16 Fourth-Down Conversions 0-of-1 0-of-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-3 2-2

RUSHING: UIW – King 18-94, Philio 10-73, Brown 10-25, Team 1-(-3), Copeland 5-(-19). Totals 44-170. SLU – Cooper 9-59, Williams 9-33, Jones 7-33, Kelley 6-28, Conner 1-21, Virgil 2-5, Team 1-(-1). Totals – 35-178.

PASSING: UIW – Copeland 14-27-0-147-2. Totals – 14-27-0-147-2. SLU – Virgil 33-46-4-337-1. Totals 33-46-4-337-1.

RECEIVING: UIW – Johnson 3-37, Hardy 3-22, Perry 2-23, Sullivan 2-8, Campbell 1-28, Rogers 1-18, Henderson 1-11, King 1-(-1). Totals 14-147. SLU – Turner 9-74, Cooper 6-30, Conner 5-61, Williams 5-15, Mitchell 4-87, Schwebel 4-70. Totals 33-337.

A – 6,345.

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