HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana University football fans who braved the dreary weather for the Lions’ annual spring game saw plenty of exciting plays from quarterback Bryan Bennett, while also witnessing a solid performance from the Lions’ defense that forced five turnovers and recorded four sacks.
But in the end, it was Bennett and the Southeastern offense that prevailed in a hard-fought 52-40 contest on Saturday night in Strawberry Stadium.
Bennett, who transferred to Southeastern after spending the past two seasons at Oregon, completed 12 of 22 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for 21 yards. Rasheed Harrell rushed for a game-high 53 yards and a touchdown for the offense, which gained 406 yards of total offense while accumulating 19 first downs.
On the game’s opening possession, Bennett drove the Lions 75 yards in nine plays beginning with a 23-yard pass to Stanley Moore before hitting Jeremy Meyers for a 46-yard gain to the SLU 11. After the defense forced a third-and-16, Bennett found Marquis Fruge’ in the left corner of the end zone for the Lions’ first touchdown of the game with 12:24 remaining in the first quarter.
Jordan Barnett, who directed the No. 2 offense, connected with Marquis Hayes for a 31-yard gain to the SLU 42 on the following drive before the drive stalled with the Lions missing a 47-yard field goal. Seth Sebastian added field goals of 37 and 43 yards in the second quarter
The defense, which earned points in the modified scoring system for stops, three-and-outs and turnovers, scored its lone touchdown in the second quarter when Tommy Elliott stepped in front of a Barnett pass and raced 35 yards for a TD. Kentwood’s Harlan Miller added a 29-yard interception return late in the half for the defense, which set up Sebastian’s second field goal as time expired.
Elliott, who redshirted the 2012 season after transferring from junior college, forced a fumble in the third quarter when he knocked the ball loose from Jonathan Hill after a 31-yard gain.
That would lead to a 4-yard TD by Harrell with 3:41 remaining that would cap a 68-yard drive for the offense.
The offense would add a pair of TDs in the fourth quarter as Kody Sutton scored on a 1-yard plunge before Brian Ensminger scored on a 4-yard run to end the night.
Stoddard, John Graves, Jeremy Williams and Josh Dakin each recorded four tackles to lead the defense. Jarrod Hale, Dereck Robinson, Kaleb Muse and Scott Korte each tallied sacks for the defense while L’Donovan Granison returned an interception 27 yards to set up the final TD of the night.
Southeastern will open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29 against Southeast Missouri in Strawberry Stadium. The Lions will play six games at home, including four against Southland Conference opponents.
Season tickets are available by calling the Southeastern Athletic Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or 1-866-LION-TIX.