No. 15 SLU closes nonconference play with overwhelming 56-10 road win at CCSU
Published 11:08 am Monday, September 20, 2021
The No. 15 Southeastern Louisiana University football team closed out nonconference play with a convincing 56-10 victory over Central Connecticut State Saturday afternoon at Arute Field.
The Lions (2-1) built a 28-3 halftime lead and never looked back on the way to the win in its first-ever meeting against the Blue Devils (1-2). SLU, playing its third straight game away from home to open the 2021 season, finished with 571 total yards and 31 first downs. Southeastern did not attempt a punt on the way to its school-record sixth straight game of 40 or more points.
Reigning Walter Payton Award winner and SLU senior quarterback Cole Kelley threw for 444 yards and a career-high tying four touchdown passes on 25-for-33 passing. The Lafayette, Louisiana native’s top targets were CJ Turner (five catches, 119 yards, two touchdowns) and Austin Mitchell (5-116-1 TD).
Kelley also connected with Cephus Johnson III for a touchdown throw. Kelley, Johnson III, Taron Jones and Jessie Britt all had rushing touchdowns for the Lions.
Defensively, SLU forced the host Blue Devils into four turnovers, as Alphonso Taylor, Justin Dumas and Terrell Carter all intercepted passes, while Darrius Harry recovered a fumble. The Lions held CCSU to 290 total yards, as Herman Christophe finished with a team-high 10 tackles, while Jack Henderson led SLU with two tackles for loss.
Romelo Williams handled the majority of the work under center for the Blue Devils, finishing with 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 17-for-34 passing. Nasir Smith led CCSU with 83 yards on 21 carries.
Southeastern wasted no time jumping on top, covering 81 yards on four plays to take the early lead. Kelley found Turner for a 31-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 7-0 lead just over a minute into the contest.
The Blue Devils answered with a 12-play, 59-yard scoring drive, cutting the lead to 7-3 with a 33-yard field goal by Joe Zoppi with 7:00 left in the opening period.
SLU moved into CCSU territory on the ensuing drive, but Jones fumbled after a hit by Tre Jones. Jahlil Brown pounced on the loose ball to give the Blue Devils the ball back. Central Connecticut State drove deep into SLU territory, but Tainano Gaulua made a big stop on a fourth-and-short to quell the Blue Devils drive.
On the first play of the second quarter, Mitchell got behind the CCSU defense and Kelley found him for a 52-yard touchdown and a 14-3 SLU lead with 14:51 left in the opening half.
After the teams traded empty possessions, SLU picked up another big fourth-down stop, as Sci Martin and Henderson stopped the Blue Devils short to give the Lions the ball back near midfield. A pair of long passes from Kelley to Nick Kovacs and Carter to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Britt that gave the Lions a 21-3 advantage with 3:46 left in the first half.
The Lion defense forced a quick three-and-out. Jones scored from two yards to cap a seven-play, 74-yard scoring march. Jones’ score gave SLU a 28-3 advantage with just over a minute remaining in the half. An interception by Taylor sent the Lions into the break with a commanding 28-3 advantage.
After SLU stopped CCSU’s initial drive, the Blue Devils attempted a fake punt, but Carter intercepted Aidan Clark’s pass. On the next play, Kelley found a wide-open Johnson III for a 37-yard score and a 35-3 Lions lead just under three minutes into the second half.
On the next drive, Harry fell on a loose ball after a mishandled snap to give the Lions the ball at the Blue Devil 24-yard line. Seven plays later, Kelley powered in to give SLU a 42-3 lead with 9:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Central Connecticut State drove deep into Lion territory on its ensuing drive, but Zoppi’s 26-yard field goal attempt was pushed wide left and kept the SLU lead at 42-3. However, Kelley fumbled on the next drive to give the Blue Devils the ball back at the Lion 19-yard line. Three plays later, Williams found Keonte Lucas for an eight-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 42-10 with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter.
A 68-yard kickoff return by Gage Larvadain set SLU up in Blue Devil territory. However, Kelley was intercepted at the Blue Devil 11-yard line by Kaiyon Gunn to end the SLU threat.
SLU forced another Blue Devil punt, then two plays later, Kelley found Turner for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Turner’s second score of the game gave the Lions a 49-10 edge just over a minute into the final period.
Southeastern closed out its scoring with just under two minutes left, as Johnson III scored from a yard out to provide the final 56-10 margin.
Southeastern will have next weekend off before opening Southland Conference play at McNeese on Oct. 2 at noon.
SLU – 7 21 14 14 – 56 (2-1)
CCSU – 3 0 7 0 – 10 (1-2)
SLU – Turner 31 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 13:46
CCSU – Zoppi 33 FG, 7:00
SLU – Mitchell 52 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 14:51
SLU – Britt 1 run (Rengifo kick), 3:46
SLU – T. Jones 2 run (Rengifo kick), 1:04
SLU – Johnson III 37 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 12:19
SLU – Kelley 4 run (Rengifo kick), 9:53
CCSU – Lucas 8 pass from Williams (Zoppi kick), 2:22
SLU – Turner 39 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 13:48
SLU- Johnson III 1 run (Rengifo kick), 1:33
FIRST DOWNS 31 20
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 29-94 36-95
PASSING YDS (NET) 477 195
Passes Att-Comp-Int 35-27-1 43-23-3
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS 64-571 79-290
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards 3-106 4-60
Punt Returns-Yards 1-(-12) 0-0
Interception Returns-Yards 3-6 1-0
Punts (Number-Avg) 0-0 3-36.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 2-1
Penalties-Yards 9-93 6-55
Possession Time. 24:35 35:25
Third-Down Conversions 3-of-6 7-of-17
Fourth-Down Conversions 1-of-2 1-of-4
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-4 2-4
RUSHING: SLU – Johnson III 6-27, Dingle 3-26, Westcott 5-17, T. Jones 5-11, Mitchell 2-9, Britt 3-8, Kelley 4-(-2), Team 1-(-2). Totals – 29-94. CCSU – Smith 21-83, Williams 4-17, Lucas 3-8, Hawkom 5-6, Huston 2-2, Mitchell 1-(-21). Totals – 36-95.
PASSING: SLU – Kelley 25-33-1-444-4, Johnson III 2-2-0-33-0. Totals – 27-35-1-477-4. CCSU – Williams 17-34-1-148-1, Mitchell 6-8-0-47-1, Clark 0-1-1-0-0. Totals – 23-43-3-195-1.
RECEIVING: SLU – Turner 5-119, Mitchell 5-116, Dingle 4-46, Johnson III 3-48, Kovacs 3-39, Givan 2-31, Carter 1-28, Larvardain 1-19, Spurlock 1-14, Drobocky 1-9, T. Jones 1-8. Totals – 25-477. CCSU – Smith 5-29, Petteway 5-23, Lucas 4-6, Williams 3-49, Surratt 3-23, Marsh 1-44, Johnson 1-17, Wormley 1-4. Totals – 23-195.
A – n/a.
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