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Homecoming contest versus HBU doubles as 2021 Strawberry Stadium debut for No. 11 SLU

The No. 11 Southeastern Louisiana University football team will officially open its home schedule with a 4 p.m. Southland Conference contest versus HBU for Homecoming Saturday in Strawberry Stadium.

This year’s Homecoming has special meaning for the Lions (4-1, 2-0 Southland), who have opened the season with five straight road games due to the effects of Hurricane Ida. SLU has responded exceptionally to the adversity, as head coach Frank Scelfo’s squad is off to the program’s best start since 1980 and has achieved the highest ranking for Southeastern since 2014.

“We can’t wait to play in front of our fans this week,” Scelfo said. “We have a special group of guys and are playing an exciting brand of football. We want to invite everyone out to Strawberry Stadium to enjoy the product we’re putting on the field. If you’re a college football fan, we expect that you’ll like what you see.”

The game between the Lions and the visiting Huskies (0-5, 0-2 Southland) 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. The first 300 students in attendance will receive a free t-shirt.

Southeastern extended its win streak to three games with a 58-48 shootout win over No. 25 Nicholls last Saturday. The Lions finished with 573 total yards and recorded 32 first downs in the victory. Senior quarterback Cole Kelley, who was named the Stats Perform FCS National Offensive Player of the Week, CFPA FCS National Performer of the Week, as well as the Southland Conference and Louisiana Offensive Player of the Week, threw a career-high five touchdowns to go with 406 yards on 29-for-38 passing, while also rushing for a pair of scores.

Kelley’s favorite target was Austin Mitchell, who finished with nine catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Kelley also connected with Nick Kovacs, Damien Dawson, Gage Larvadain and Ivan Drobocky on scoring passes.

Alexis Ramos was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week after finishing with a game-high 12 tackles versus the Colonels. Zy Alexander and Alphonso Taylor each recorded interceptions in the win.

Larvadain made the game’s biggest play on Saturday in Thibodaux. His 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown late in the third quarter quelled a Colonel rally and earned him conference Special Teams Player of the Week accolades.

Averaging 556.6 yards and 48.6 points per game, the high-powered SLU offense leads the nation in third down conversion percentage (58.1, 1st) and completion percentage (74.1, 1st), while also ranking among the FCS leaders in first downs (154, 2nd), passing offense (406.4 ypg, 3rd), red zone offense (96.4, 5th), scoring offense (2nd), tackles for loss allowed (2.8 per game, 2nd), passing efficiency (172.36, 4th), time of possession (33:48, 9th) and total offense (3rd).

Gifted with a vast array of weapons at the skill positions and a consistently excellent offensive line, Kelley leads the FCS in completion percentage (74.5), points responsible for (152) and total offense (440.4 ypg), having thrown for 1,999 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also rushing for a team-high seven touchdowns.

Eight Lions have double-digit receptions this fall, paced by the trio of Mitchell (33 catches, 434 yards, four touchdowns), CJ Turner (23-392-4 TD) and Nolan Givan (22-189-1 TD). Mitchell (147 catches, 2,399 yards and 21 touchdowns) and Turner (181-2,311-18 TD) rank fourth and seventh, respectively, among active FCS players in receiving yards.

Opponents are averaging 403.2 yards and 33.2 points per game versus the SLU defense. Ramos leads the team with 32 tackles, followed by Taylor (26), Herman Christophe (20), Donniel Ward-Magee (17) and Matt Wright (16).

Southeastern is 11th in FCS with eight interceptions. Taylor and Alexander lead the team with two picks apiece, while Justin Douglas, Justin Dumas, Ferlando Jordan and Terrell Carter each have one apiece.

Buoyed by his record-tying return on Saturday, Larvadain is second nationally with 35.6 yards per kickoff return. Mateo Rengifo has made both of his field goal attempts, is 31-33 on PAT’s and has 17 touchbacks to his credit, while Austin Dunlap is averaging 42.8 yards per punt, having punted just eight times in five games.

 

The Huskies come to Hammond in search of their first win of the 2021 season. A fourth-quarter touchdown allowed Northwestern State to edge HBU, 21-17, last Saturday in Houston.

HBU is averaging 246.8 yards and 18.2 points per game through five games. Blaise Bentsen (55-for-97, 493 yards, five touchdowns, four interceptions), Desmond Young (27-for-58, 222, 2 TD, 2 INT) and Orion Olivas (17-for-37, 186, 1 TD, 0 INT) have all seen time under center for the Huskies.

Tyson Thompson (21 catches, 228 yards) and Charles King (22-213-4 TD) are the top targets in the passing game. Xzavier Ford leads HBU with 75 yards rushing.

Opponents are averaging 438.2 yards and 35.6 points per game versus the Huskies. Brennan Young paces HBU with 47 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss.

Saturday will be the seventh meeting between the two teams. Southeastern has won the previous six games versus the Huskies.

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.