From SLU Athletics
HAMMOND – The Southeastern Louisiana football team will look to remain atop the Southland Conference standings on Saturday, when the Lions welcome Southland Conference foe Lamar to Strawberry Stadium for Homecoming.
Saturday's game will kickoff at 7 p.m. and will be the culmination of a week of Homecoming festivities. The Homecoming parade is set for 3 p.m., while the 2013 Homecoming King and Queen will be announced at halftime of Saturday's contest.
The game between the Lions and the visiting Cardinals will air live on ESPN3. The game will also be broadcast on KSLU 90.9 FM, the flagship station of the Southeastern Sports Radio Network, as well as Northshore Broadcasting stations Kajun 107.1 FM and The Joint 104.7 FM. Fans can listen online at www.LionSports.net or on their smart phone using the TuneIn Radio app.
Southeastern (5-2, 2-0 Southland) comes in riding a four-game winning streak – the longest for the program since the 1983 squad won five consecutive contests. Lamar (3-4, 0-2 Southland) will be looking for its first league victory after suffering narrow losses to defending Southland co-champions Sam Houston State and Central Arkansas to open Southland play.
"We're very excited to be able to play in front of our fans for Homecoming in Strawberry Stadium," Southeastern head coach Ron Roberts said. "We are facing a very athletic, talented Lamar team this week and we need to be at our best and continue improving to extend our winning streak."
The Lions are coming off a 37-22 comeback win at Northwestern State, as Southeastern outscored the Demons, 30-9, in the second half. Sophomore Xavier Roberson ignited the big second half for the Lions with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, earning College Football Performance Awards, Southland Conference and Louisiana Sports Writers Association weekly honors.
Junior quarterback Bryan Bennett paced the Lion offensive attack in the victory over NSU. The Granada Hills, Calif. native threw for 222 yards on 15 of 21 passing, while also rushing for a pair of touchdowns. Sophomores Kody Sutton and Rasheed Harrell also found the end zone on the ground, while sophomore Jeff Smiley (seven catches, 87 yards) and senior Tony McCrea (4-84) were the team's top pass catchers.
On defense, senior Cqulin Hubert led the Lions with a season-high 11 tackles. Sophomore Denzel Thompson ended NSU's comeback chances with a key fourth quarter interception.
The Southeastern offense continues to be very balanced, averaging 466 yards per contest (218.3 rushing, 247.7 passing). Bennett is the team's leading rusher with 430 yards and nine rushing touchdowns – the sixth-most in a season by a Lion in school history. Harrell (305 yards, four touchdowns), Roberson (303 yards, 2 TD) and Sutton (283 yards, 4 TD) have shared time in the backfield.
Bennett has consistently improved his passing throughout the season, entering Saturday's contest with 1475 yards and seven touchdowns through the air, completing 64.1 percent of his throws. Smiley (30 catches, 381 yards, 3 TD) and McCrea (21-428-1 TD) continue to serve as Bennett's top targets.
Bennett and company will be facing the league's top ranked defense in Lamar, which is allowing 319.4 yards and 20.3 points per contest. Defensive end Jesse Dickson sets the tone on defense for the Cardinals, leading the team with 54 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
While the Lamar defense has been dominant, the Cardinal offense also features some potent weapons. Kade Harrington leads the team with 474 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Caleb Berry has thrown for 1723 yards and 16 touchdowns versus only five interceptions, connecting with top target Reggie Begelton (39 catches, 399 yards) on six scores.
The Lion defense, which is allowing 388.1 yards and 21.3 points per contest on the year, will be charged with slowing down the Cardinals. Junior Drew Misita, senior Kevin Harmon and senior Theo Alexander share the team lead with 36 tackles apiece. The pass rush tandem of juniors Jacob Newman (four sacks, 9.0 tackles for loss) and Isiah Corbett (five sacks, 6.0 TFL) continue to be effective, while junior Marice Sutton leads the Southland with three interceptions.
Southeastern's special team units continue to thrive heading into the final five games of the regular season. Roberson is the FCS national leader in kickoff return average and kickoff return touchdowns, while senior kicker Seth Sebastian has yet to miss this year, connection on all six of his field goal and 32 of his point after touchdown tries. Senior Matt McCormick sits in third place in the Southland with a solid 42.4 yard per punt average.
Southeastern is 5-3 all-time versus the Cardinals, who brought back football prior to the 2010 season. Since the Lamar program's return, neither team has won on their own home field in the series. Lamar won in Hammond in 2010 and 2011, while the Lions went to Beaumont and came away with a 31-21 victory last season.
Following Saturday's contest, the Lions will play the next two games on the road, starting with a 7 p.m. contest at league co-leader McNeese State on Nov. 2. The game with the Cowboys will be broadcast on KSLU 90.9 FM, the flagship station of the Southeastern Sports Radio Network, as well as Northshore Broadcasting stations Kajun 107.1 FM and The Joint 104.7 FM. Fans can listen online at www.LionSports.net or on their smart phone using the TuneIn Radio app. LionVision subscribers will be able to access a live video stream, provided by MSU, at LionSports.net.