Lions set for homecoming battle with nationally-ranked UCA - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Lions set for homecoming battle with nationally-ranked UCA

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From SLU Athletics

HAMMOND – The Southeastern Louisiana University football team returns from an open date on Saturday when it plays host to nationally-ranked Central Arkansas in the annual homecoming game at Strawberry Stadium.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game can be heard in the Hammond area on KSLU-FM (90.9) and on the internet at www.LionSports.net. The game will also be televised on a tape-delayed basis by the Southeastern Channel with a live video stream available at www.LionSports.net. Tickets are available by calling the Southeastern Athletic Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or on-line at www.LionSports.net.

Southeastern (3-4, 3-0 Southland) returns to action after a 27-22 victory over in-state rival Northwestern State on Oct. 13. The Lions built a 17-9 lead at halftime and led 20-15 before freshman Xavier Roberson's 11-yard touchdown run – his second of the day – put Southeastern ahead, 27-15, with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter.

The Lions, who have paced the Southland Conference in total defense, pass defense, interceptions and sacks in their first three league contests, recorded a season-high six sacks and held the Demons to 58 yards rushing while forcing a pair of turnovers. 

Quarterback Nathan Stanley has paced Southeastern's offensive attack completing 125 of 230 passes for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns. Six players on the roster have caught at least 13 passes on the season with Stanley Moore and Marquis Fruge' leading the team with 19 receptions each.

Roberson, who was signed as a defensive back before moving to running back after the Lions' third game of the season, leads Southeastern with 198 yards and two TDs. Another freshman – Rasheed Harrell – saw his most significant action against Northwestern State rushing for 47 yards on seven carries.

Ponchatoula native Kaleb Muse and newcomer John Graves lead Southeastern in tackles with 53 and 44 respectively. Texas Tech transfer Cqulin Hubert (38 tackles), Marice Sutton (37), Theo Alexander (34), Tyler Stoddard (33), Devan Walker (32) and Drew Misita (30) are part of an active defense that has held Southland Conference opponents to 93.7 yards rushing – second among league schools behind Sam Houston State (53.8).

UCA (6-2, 4-1 Southland), ranked No. 14 in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches' Poll, built a 17-0 halftime lead and defeated Lamar, 24-14, to clinch their 32nd winning season in the past 37 years. The Bears held Lamar to 79 yards of total offense in the first half and got a 75-yard scoring pass from Wynrick Smothers to Jesse Grandy to seal the win.

Smothers, a former Destrehan High product, has excelled for UCA in his first full season as a starting quarterback. The junior has completed 187 of 277 passes for 2,031 yards and 20 TDs and ranks second in the Southland Conference in total offense (284.2), passing (253.9) and pass efficiency (147.1). Grandy, an Ole Miss transfer, and Dominique Croom are the top targets for the Bears with 41 receptions each while Dezmin Lewis has caught 34 passes and four TDs.

All-Southland Conference safety Jestin Love leads UCA with 62 tackles and is followed by linebackers Justin Heard (57 tackles) and Seth Allison (55). Freshman Jonathan Woodard has six sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles for the Bears, who are seventh overall in total defense.

UCA leads the all-time series, 4-1, with both teams splitting games in Hammond. The Bears claimed the first meeting in Hammond, 37-33, in 2007 before Southeastern edged the then nationally-ranked Bears, 25-21, in 2009. UCA claimed last year's contest in Conway, 55-29, as the Bears scored 31 unanswered points to pull away from a 17-10 first quarter lead.

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