No. 11 Southeastern opens Southland play with 63-7 victory over Incarnate Word

Information provided by SLU Athletics 

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The No. 11 Southeastern Louisiana football team jumped out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 63-7 Southland Conference road victory over University of Incarnate Word Saturday night at Benson Stadium.

Southeastern (3-2, 1-0 Southland) snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory in its Southland Conference opener. The Lions have now won their last 11 games versus league opponents. Incarnate Word fell to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in Southland action.

SLU tied a season high with 564 total yards and scored the most points it has ever scored versus a Southland Conference opponent. The Lions did most of their damage on the ground, as they set a single-game school record with seven rushing touchdowns. SLU rushed for 337 yards – the third-highest single-game total in school history.

Junior running back Kody Sutton rushed for a career-high 104 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while senior quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Bryan Bennett rushed for 89 yards and two scores. Freshman Eugene Bethea, senior Jordan Barnett, junior Rasheed Harrell and senior Marquis Hayes each also rushed for touchdowns.

Bennett also did damage through the air, throwing for 212 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-24 passing. The Granada Hills, California native connected with senior Devante Scott (five catches, 99 yards) and junior Jeff Smiley (four catches, 45 yards) for touchdowns.

Southeastern limited UIW to just 166 yards of total offense and seven first downs. UIW freshman quarterback Breylann McCollum was 12-of-23 for 92 yards and an interception. Senior linebacker Kaleb Muse recovered a fumble that was forced by senior linebacker Drew Misita. Freshman Ryan Sigers also recorded his first career interception for the Lions.

Southeastern jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the game's opening drive. Harrell capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to put the Lions ahead with 8:42 left in the opening quarter.

After the Lions forced a three-and-out, Southeastern answered with a quick six-play, 80-yard scoring drive. A Bennett 41-yard pass to junior Dylan Bossier highlighted the drive. Bennett sprinted in from 21 yards out to give SLU a 14-0 lead with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter.

Southeastern held UIW without a first down on its next drive and a 24-yard punt return by Scott set the Lions up in Cardinal territory. However, the Cardinals stiffened to force Southeastern to punt.

After Southeastern forced another three-and-out to end the first quarter, the Lions embarked on another methodical drive to pad the lead. A Bennett 12-yard touchdown run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock. His second score of the game gave the Lions a 21-0 lead with 9:50 left in the opening half.

Incarnate Word managed their initial first down 21 minutes into the game and moved into Southeastern territory on the ensuing drive. However, Misita forced McCollum to fumble and Muse recovered it to end the UIW scoring threat.

UIW would get on the board on its final drive of the first half after a short punt gave the Cardinals the ball deep in Lion territory. On the first play of the drive, the Cardinals used a wide receiver pass by freshman Kody Edwards to junior Cole Wick from 24 yards out to cut the SLU advantage to 21-7 with 1:40 remaining in the first half.

Southeastern answered that drive with a scoring drive of its own to close the half. A 44-yard kickoff return by junior Xavier Roberson set the Lions up near midfield with 1:29 left on the clock. Bennett marched SLU down the field and found Smiley from four yards out to send the Lions into the break with a 28-7 lead after a first half that saw team outgain UIW, 296-95.

After forcing the Cardinals to punt on their first drive of the second half, Southeastern added to its lead on their first drive. Sutton accounted for 42 yards of SLU's 68 yards on a 10-play drive. Sutton raced around left end from eight yards out to cap the drive and put the Lions up, 35-7 with 9:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Southeastern forced another three and out for UIW before showing its quick strike ability. Bennett found Scott on throws of 33 and 29 yards with the final throw resulting in a touchdown and a 42-7 lead with 7:16 left in the third quarter.

The Lions made another quick stop and a 12-yard punt by Ramon Coto set up the Lions with a short field. Barnett capped a quick, three-play 20-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run to push the SLU lead to 49-7 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.

UIW could not move the ball on their ensuing drive and a 35-yard punt return by sophomore Jarrell Bennett set up the Lions at the Cardinal 36-yard line. Bethea capped the drive on the final play of the third quarter, scoring from 10 yards out with seven seconds left in the period.

Southeastern closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter. Hayes raced in from 19 yards out to give the Lions a 63-7 lead with 6:10 remaining.

Following Saturday's contest, Southeastern will return home to host Northwestern State at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 4 in Strawberry Stadium. The game will be televised on the Southland Television Network. The contest will also be broadcast live in the Hammond area on the flagship station of Southeastern Football, KSLU-FM (90.9), as well as affiliates and Northshore Broadcasting stations Kajun 107.1 FM (WHMD) and The Highway 104.7 FM (WJSH).

The game will also see SLU and Raising Cane's partner to support the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center's Geaux Pink initiative. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game. The first 200 students will receive free t-shirts and Impaired Faculties – a band made of SLU faculty - will provided entertainment from 12-2 p.m. in Friendship Circle.