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STILLWATER, Okla. – Southeastern Louisiana could not overcome a 28-0 first quarter deficit, as it fell, 61-7, to No. 19/21 Oklahoma State in the football season opener for both teams in front of Saturday afternoon at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Southeastern (0-1) fell to 0-21 since the program's return in 2003 in games versus Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) competition. Oklahoma State (1-0) won its 21st straight home opener.
Oklahoma State forced four the Lions to lose four fumbles on the way to the victory. Two of the fumbles resulted in touchdowns and 27 additional points were scored on drives that started in Southeastern territory. The Cowboys finished with 392 yards of total offense, as quarterback Mason Rudolph connected with Jhajuan Seals on a pair of touchdown passes.
Southeastern managed 166 yards of total offense on the day. In his debut at running back, senior Kaelyn Henderson led the Lions with 68 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Senior Justin Alo came in to the game early in the second half and was effective, throwing for 92 yards in a little less than two quarters of work.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior Javon Tillman led Southeastern with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery, while junior Torrance Mosley added nine tackles. Senior Jon Taylor, senior Caleb Young and junior Lee Spight each were credited with sacks for SLU.
Southeastern forced a punt on Oklahoma State's opening possession. However, Tillman dropped the ensuing punt and Cowboy cornerback Madre Harper recovered the loose ball in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
On the second play of Southeastern's first drive, senior D'Shaie Landor fumbled to set up the Cowboys in Southeastern territory. Four plays later, Chris Carson powered in from 14 yards out to give OSU a 14-0 lead with 10:50 remaining in the opening quarter.
After the Lions were forced three-and-out on its next possession, junior punter Jim Speights gave OSU good field position again after a 12-yard punt set up the Cowboys with the ball at the Lion 34-yard line. Three plays later, Rudolph found Seales for a diving 24-yard touchdown reception and a 21-0 lead with 8:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Southeastern picked up its initial first down of the game on the next drive, when Landor found freshman Javon Conner for a 12-yard catch and run. However, the Lions eventually had to punt. Barry J. Sanders capped a five-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard run to give the Cowboys a 28-0 lead with 4:24 remaining in the first quarter.
After another Southeastern three-and-out, Sanders returned a Speights punt for 57 yards to set up the Cowboys inside the Lion one-yard line. However, Rudolph fumbled on the second play and Tillman recovered it in the end zone to prevent OSU from adding to its lead.
After Southeastern was forced to punt to end the opening period, OSU marched 46 yards on 11 plays. The Lion defense stiffened in the red zone and held the Cowboys to a 31-yard field goal by Ben Grogan to extend the advantage to 31-0 with 12:42 left in the first half.
The Lions got on the board after forcing a three-and-out that was capped by a sack by Taylor. After taking over near midfield, SLU went on a five-play, 51-yard scoring march. Henderson accounted for most of the yards with a 26-yard run up the middle to cut the OSU lead to 31-7 with 5:41 remaining in the second quarter. Neither team could get anything going offensively for the rest of the half.
On the first drive of the second half, OSU's Devante Averette stripped Landor and deflected the ball into the hands of Ramon Richards, who ran the loose ball untouched for a nine-yard touchdown 22 seconds into the second half.
Southeastern had an excellent scoring opportunity on its next drive. Alo threw a perfect pass down the right sideline to senior Brandon Acker for 55 yards to set the Lions up deep in Oklahoma State territory. However, the drive stalled and sophomore Jonathan Tatum had his 34-yard field goal attempt blocked to keep the deficit at 38-7.
OSU added to its lead with a nine-play, 50-yard drive towards the end of the third quarter. The Lions looked as if they were going to throw Rudolph for a series-ending sack, but the Cowboy signal caller was able to avoid going down and found Scales for a 16-yard touchdown in the back corner of the end zone, extending the OSU cushion to 45-7 with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
Junior Micah Thomas made his debut under center on the next Lion drive and fumbled due to a bad pitch on his second play, giving OSU the ball back on the SLU 19-yard line. Three plays later, Jeff Carr bulled in from one yard out to give OSU a 52-7 lead with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
Yet another Cowboy drive was started deep in Southeastern territory after a Lion three-and-out. Speights dropped the snap on the punt and was sacked by Chance Cook to allow the Cowboys drive to start at the Lion 16-yard line. The drive extended into the final period and was capped by a 28-yard field goal by Grogan to give the Cowboys a 55-7 lead with 14:50 left.
The Cowboys capped the scoring with a 15-play, 90-yard scoring drive. OSU backup quarterback Taylor Cornelius scampered in from five yards out to give the Cowboys a 61-7 edge with three minutes left.
Saturday's game was be the first of two away from home to start 2016 for the Lions. Next Saturday, SLU will travel to Southern Utah (0-1) for a 7 p.m. (CDT) contest versus the Thunderbirds in Cedar City, Utah. SUU dropped a 24-0 decision to Utah in its season opener on Thursday.