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No. 14 Southeastern closes road swing at No. 25 Nicholls

The No. 14 Southeastern Louisiana University football team will close out its five-game road swing to open the season on Saturday with a 12 p.m. Southland Conference contest at No. 25 Nicholls at John L. Guidry Stadium.

The game between SLU (3-1, 1-0 Southland) and the Colonels (2-2, 1-0 Southalnd) – the third straight in the series in which both teams are ranked – will be televised on Cox Sports Television and ESPN+, while also being heard in the Hammond area on Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM, as well as online at www.kajun107.net. Saturday’s game will not be for the history River Bell trophy, as the River Bell Classic will be held only once in fall 2021 on Nov. 18 in Hammond.

Southeastern is ranked No. 14 in both the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 and AFCA FCS Coaches Top 25. The Lions are coming off a 38-35 victory at McNeese last Saturday.

Southeastern held off a late Cowboy rally on the way to its first win in Lake Charles since 2014 and just its third win at McNeese since the program returned in 2003. The Lions finished with 546 total yards in the victory, as senior quarterback Cole Kelley threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for a team-high 65 yards and a score.

Kelley, who was named Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week earlier, connected with CJ Turner, Nick Kovacs and Tim Wilson Jr. on scoring throws, while Taron Jones also found the end zone on the ground. Justin Douglas snagged a one-handed interception to highlight the SLU defensive effort, while Brandon Barbee led the Lions with five tackles. John Graves III, Garrett Crawford, Bryce Cage and Brendon Kelley were all credited with sacks.

Behind an offensive line that has allowed the fewest tackles for loss per game (2.50) in FCS, SLU ranks among the national leaders in total offense (552.5 ypg, 3rd), scoring offense (46.2 ppg, 4th), passing offense (406.5 ypg, 3rd), third down conversion percentage (57.7, 2nd), completion percentage (73.7, 1st), first downs (122, 3rd), red zone offense (1.000, 1st) and pass efficiency (165.85, 8th). The Lions also sit in ninth nationally in red zone defense (66.7).

Through four games, Kelley has passed for 1,593 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions on 135-for-182 passing, while also rushing for a league-high five touchdowns. His 74.2 completion percentage leads FCS and Kelley also ranks among the national leaders in completions per game (33.75, 2nd), passing efficiency (166.9, 7th), passing touchdowns (7th), passing yards per game (398.2, 2nd), points responsible per game (27.5, 2nd) and total offense (435.2 ypg, 2nd).

Kelley has connected with 15 different receivers this season with the trio of Austin Mitchell (24 catches, 323 yards, 3 TD), Turner (22-373-4 TD) and Nolan Givan (16-130-1 TD) serving as his most frequent targets. Kelley leads the Lions with 148 yards on the ground, while Taron Jones has 135 yards and four scores in the run game.

Opponents are averaging 29.5 points and 377.2 yards per game versus Southeastern through four games. Alphonso Taylor leads SLU with 21 tackles, followed by Alexis Ramos (20), Herman Christophe (17), Donniel Ward-Magee (13) and Jack Henderson (13).

Two-time All-American Ferlando Jordan, Taylor, Douglas, Justin Dumas and Zy Alexander all have interceptions to their credit for the Lions.

Nicholls has won two games in a row heading into Saturday’s game, most recently defeating Houston Baptist, 48-17, in the Southland opener for both teams last Saturday in Thibodaux. The Colonels jumped out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, rolling to 650 total yards – including 421 on the ground – in the win over the Huskies.

The Colonel offense is averaging 30.0 points and 480.8 yards per game thus far this season. Quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. leads the Southland with 430 rushing yards, while also having thrown for 908 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

One of the premier receivers in all of FCS football in Dai’Jean Dixon (31 catches, 456 yards, three touchdowns) is Scott’s favorite target, while veteran Julien Gums (313 yards, 2 TD) is another productive member of the ground game.

Opponents are averaging 25.0 points and 369.3 yards per contest versus Nicholls. Ty’Ree Evans leads the Colonels with 23 tackles, while Perry Ganci paces the squad with four tackles for loss.

Saturday will mark the 31st all-time meeting between the in-state rivals. The series is tied, 15-15, heading into the first of two meetings between the two schools this fall.

The Lion Athletics Association (LAA) will host a tailgate for Southeastern fans in the area across from the Colonel Softball Complex from 10-11:45 a.m. on Saturday with refreshments available.

Southeastern will open its 2021 home schedule next Saturday, welcoming Houston Baptist for a 4 p.m. Homecoming contest in Strawberry Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN+, while also being heard in the Hammond area on Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM, as well as online at www.kajun107.net.

TICKETS
For ticket information, contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net. Southeastern will continue offering mobile ticketing as the primary source for securing tickets for the 2021-22 season. All tickets will be available via e-mail or text message in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Southeastern Football, follow @LionUpFootball and @Coach_Scelfo on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

TOUCHDOWN CLUB/S CLUB

Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the football program are encouraged to join the Touchdown Club. Lion football alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Touchdown Club and S Club (football) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern football program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

CLEAR BAG POLICY

Southeastern Athletics instituted a clear bag policy for all ticketed events, effective with the start of the 2018 football season. For more information on the clear bag policy, visit www.LionSports.net/clear.