No. 17 SLU Travels to Sixth-Seeded Samford for FCS Second Round Playoff Contest
Published 12:05 pm Thursday, December 1, 2022
The No. 17 Southeastern Louisiana University football team will travel to face sixth-seeded Samford in a second-round FCS playoff contest Saturday at 2 p.m. in Seifert Stadium.
The game between the Lions (9-3) and the host Bulldogs (10-1) in Birmingham, Alabama will be televised live on ESPN+. Saturday’s contest can also be heard live on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM).
Southeastern extended its win streak to six games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs for the third time in the past four years with a 45-42 thriller over No. 18 Idaho. The Lions overcame a 21-10 first-half deficit to earn the win, as Idaho kicker Ricardo Chavez’s 39-yard field goal attempt to send the game to overtime missed wide right.
A balanced Southeastern offense finished with 451 (227 passing, 224 rushing) total yards in Saturday’s shootout. Cephus Johnson III threw for 208 yards, while also rushing for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Jessie Britt led Southeastern with 106 yards on 13 carries to go with a 19-yard passing touchdown to Nick Kovacs. Carlos Washington Jr. chipped in with two rushing touchdowns for the Lions.
Johnson III (1,354 passing yards, 10 TD, 5 INT) and Eli Sawyer (1,605 passing yards, 11 TD, 1 INT) have shared time under center for a Lion offense that is averaging 34.8 points and 433.0 yards per contest.
Gage Larvadain (51 catches, 637 yards, 2 TD), Maurice Massey (36-493-4 TD) and Ivan Drobocky (6 TD) are the top targets in the passing game. Washington Jr. (627 yards, 13 TD), Johnson III (488-5 TD) and Britt (480-5 TD) are the standouts in the rushing attack behind an offensive line led by Southland Offensive Lineman of the Year John Allen.
Southeastern yielded 456 yards to Idaho last Saturday, but forced a Vandal offense that had a plus-14 turnover margin during the regular season into three turnovers. Zy Alexander returned an interception for a touchdown for the second straight game, while Donniel Ward-Magee intercepted a pass in the end zone to thwart a Idaho drive.
Ian Goodly led SLU with 10 tackles and forced a fumble that was recovered by Jack Henderson on the first play of the game.
Opponents are averaging 24.2 points and 382.4 yards per game against the Lions. Donte’ Daniels leads the team with 83 tackles followed by Herman Christophe (79), Henderson (77), Anthony Britton Jr. (73) and Ward-Magee (60).
Ward-Magee and Alexander share the team lead with three interceptions, while Arlen Williams has a team-high seven tackles for loss.
The Southeastern special teams features four individuals ranked among the FCS national leaders. Kicker Riley Callaghan is 15-for-18 on field goals this season, ranking second nationally in field goals per game and eighth in field goal percentage.
Punter Austin Dunlap (43.0, 12th), punt returner Darius Lewis (9.4, 14th) and kick returner Larvadain (25.0, 17th) all boast averages that rank among the nation’s best.
No. 8/9 Samford received a bye into the second round after receiving the No. 6 seed in the 24-team playoff field. The Southern Conference champion Bulldogs, who will be hosting a FCS playoff game for the first time in program history, have won their last nine games heading into the postseason with the team’s lone loss of the season coming at FBS No. 1 Georgia.
The Bulldogs are averaging 33.5 points and 433.9 yards per game behind quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Michael Hiers (329-for-428, 3,290 yards, 35 TD, 3 INT). Chandler Smith (86 catches, 892 yards, 10 TD) and Kendall Watson (73-851-9 TD) highlight a receiving corps that features seven players with 20 or more catches, while Jay Stanton (680 yards, 3 TD) and Jaylan Thomas (571-7 TD) provide a nice one-two punch on the ground.
Samford is yielding 23.8 points and 434.3 yards per outing. Noah Martin leads the team with 80 tackles and six tackles for loss.
Southeastern is 2-1 all-time versus Samford. The two teams last met in 2013 with SLU earning a 34-31 win in Birmingham. The Lions are 4-4 all-time in FCS playoff contests and are looking for their first postseason road victory.
The winner of Saturday’s contest will advance to the FCS quarterfinals to face the winner of Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. second round matchup between Montana and third-seeded North Dakota State.
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 2022-23 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.
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