No. 13 Southeastern returns home to host Northwestern State for Hall of Fame Game

Published 12:02 pm Thursday, November 11, 2021

The No. 13 Southeastern Louisiana University football team will return home to host Northwestern State for a 6 p.m. Southland Conference contest on Saturday in Strawberry Stadium.

The game between the Lions (7-1, 5-1 Southland) and the visiting Demons (2-7, 2-4 Southland) will be televised on ESPN3 and can be 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 contest will also be the Hall of Fame game. Both the 2020 class of Matt Carvell (golf), Maiya Cooper (soccer), Brock Hebert (baseball) and Adonson Shallow (track and field), as well as the 2021 class of Jameson Fisher (baseball), Harry Nunez (football) and Renee Villarreal (tennis) will be inducted in a private ceremony prior to the game and recognized at halftime.

Saturday’s game is also a White Out. Fans are encouraged to wear white to help White Out Strawberry Stadium.

The Lions enter the final two games of the regular season needing two wins or a win and a UIW loss to clinch a share of the Southland Conference championship.

Southeastern saw its six-game win streak snapped last Saturday, as No. 22 UIW handed the Lions a 55-52 loss in a shootout that saw the two teams combine for nearly 1,500 yards of total offense. Heading into last Saturday, nine FCS quarterbacks ever had thrown for 600 or more yards in a game. SLU’s Cole Kelley (647) and UIW’s Cameron Ward (610) both topped the mark in Saturday’s wild affair in San Antonio.

Kelley completed 50-of-68 passes at UIW and tossed three touchdowns, while also rushing for 50 yards and three more scores. Kelley’s single-game totals for total offense (697, 2nd), passing yards (4th) and completions (5th) were all among the best-ever performances in FCS history.

Kelley’s top targets on Saturday were Austin Mitchell (nine catches, 169 yards, one touchdown), Gage Larvadain (12-115-1 TD) and Nolan Givan (9-87-1 TD). Mitchell’s yardage total was the ninth-highest in program history and helped vault the Plaquemine, Louisiana native to SLU’s new career receiving yardage record with 2,831 yards.

The Lion offense leads FCS with 575.9 yards per game, while also second nationally wiht 47.8 points per contest. The only player in FCS ranked in the national top five in both passing and rushing touchdowns, Kelley has completed 284-for-386 passes for 3,634 yards, 31 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also rushing for 12 scores. The reigning Walter Payton Award winner leads FCS in passing yards, completion percentage (73.2), total offense (447.1 ypg) and points responsible for (260).

Protected by a consistently excellent offensive line, Kelley has had plenty of time to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. Mitchell leads the team with 53 catches, 866 yards and eight touchdowns. His receiving yardage total ranks him ninth in FCS.

Givan (40 catches, 378 yards, three touchdowns), CJ Turner (27-464-5 TD), Larvadain (23-373-4 TD) and Taron Jones (21-193) round out the top five in receptions for SLU. Nick Kovacs (three touchdowns), Tim Wilson Jr. (2 TD), Damien Dawson (2 TD), Ivan Drobocky (2 TD) and Cephus Johnson III (2 TD) each have multiple touchdown receptions this season. Jones is second on the team with five rushing touchdowns.

Opponents are averaging 31.0 points and 429.2 yards per game versus the Lions. Alexis Ramos leads SLU with 51 tackles, followed by Alphonso Taylor (45), Herman Christophe (37), Donniel Ward-Magee (31), Brandon Barbee (28) and Jack Henderson (28).

The Lions rank third nationally with 14 interceptions on the season. Zy Alexander has intercepted passes in three straight games, leading the Southland Conference with five picks – good for fifth in FCS. Taylor and Justin Dumas each have two interceptions, while Barbee, Henderson, Justin Douglas, Ferlando Jordan and Terrell Carter have one apiece.

On special teams, Larvadain is sixth nationally with 29.6 yards per kickoff return. Austin Dunlap’s 44.9 punting average would be good for eighth in FCS if he had enough punt attempts to qualify for the national rankings. Mateo Rengifo has made 7-of-9 field goals on the season.

Northwestern State ended a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a 28-24 victory over HBU in Natchitoches. The Demons outscored the Huskies, 22-7, in the fourth quarter to complete the season sweep of the visitors.

The Demons average 18.0 points and 363.4 yards per game coming into Saturday’s contest. Zachary Clement has taken over at quarterback, throwing for 647 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions on 72-for-130 passing, while also rushing for a team-high seven touchdowns. Clement’s top receiving targets are Jay Griffin IV (41 catches, 467 yards, four touchdowns), Kendrick Price Jr. (22-337-2 TD) and Gavin Landry (28-245).

Defensively, opponents are averaging 33.2 points and 442.0 yards per game versus NSU. Reigning Southland Defensive Player of the Week Jomard Valsin leads the Demons with 61 tackles and nine tackles for loss, while Race Moser has a team-high 6.5 sacks. PJ Herrington and Shemar Bartholomew have two interceptions apiece, while Jared Pedraza has recovered three fumbles.

Southeastern leads the all-time series with the Demons, 36-29. The Lions have won the last 10 meetings, including a 51-14 victory over Northwestern State in Natchitoches on Oct. 23.

Southeastern will close out the regular season by hosting Nicholls next Thursday at 6 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. The River Bell Classic will be televised on ESPN+ and can be 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.

Prior to the game versus the Colonels, Southeastern will honor its senior class in a special Senior Day ceremony.

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.