Southeastern kicks off 2013 with 45-7 win
HAMMOND - Southeastern Louisiana junior quarterback Bryan Bennett rushed for 106 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Lions to a 45-7 victory over Southeast Missouri State in the season opener for both teams Thursday night in Strawberry Stadium.
The Lions (1-0) posted an impressive 309 yards rushing on the way to its first victory to open a season since 2009. Southeastern was able to hold the visiting Redhawks (0-1) to 294 total yards and score the final 31 points of the contest.
Bennett is the first Lion quarterback to top 100 yards rushing since Dean Waguespack tallied 122 yards versus Livingston on Oct. 15, 1977. The sophomore running back trio of Kody Sutton (10 carries, 87 yards), Xavier Roberson (11 carries, 54 yards) and Rasheed Harrell (10 carries, 49 yards) were all effective on the ground. In addition to Bennett's three scores, Sutton, Roberson and junior quarterback Jordan Barnett all rushed for touchdowns.
Defensively, sophomore defensive back Harlan Miller had an interception, while James Scales III, Isiah Corbett, Jacob Newman and Javari Nichols were all credited with sacks. Drew Misita led the Lions with seven tackles.
Southeastern also made an impact on special teams, as Miller broke free for a 44-yard punt return. Roberson opened the game with a 65-yard kickoff return, while junior Justin Church blocked a field goal.
Southeast Missouri quarterbacks Kyle Snynder and Scott Lathrop combined to go 7-for-19 for 88 yards. DeMichael Jackson led the Redhawks with 61 yards rushing.
Roberson's electrifying return set Southeastern up at the SEMO 32-yard line to open the game. Four plays later, Bennett dove in from three yards out to put the Lions up, 7-0.
After a quick three and out forced by the Lion defense, Bennett showed off his arm going four-for-four on a 10-play, 72-yard drive. Roberson walked in untouched from two yards out to put Southeastern up, 14-0, midway through the first quarter.
SEMO would score for the only time on its second possession of the game. Lennies McFerrin carried six times on the 10-play, 75-yard march and capped the drive with a six yard score to cut the Southeastern lead in half with 2:27 left in the opening quarter.
Southeastern would score on the first two possessions of the second quarter to increase the lead. Sutton powered in from four yards out to put Southeastern up by two touchdowns, while Miller's long punt return set up a 45-yard field goal by Seth Sebastian.
Southeast Missouri seemed poised to cut in the lead late in the first half, but Church blocked a 37-yard field goal attempt by Ryan McCrum to keep the Lion lead at 24-7 at the half.
Any chance Southeast Missouri had was thwarted early in the third quarter. After the two team's exchanged punts on the first two drives of the second half, the Redhawks drove down to the Southeastern 14-yard line. On fourth-and-one, Church dropped Snyder for a two-yard loss to allow the Lions to take over on downs.
On the next play, Bennett found junior tight end Jeremy Meyers wide open for a 56-yard pass into Redhawk territory. On third-and-12, Bennett raced in from 30 yards out to give Southeastern a 31-7 lead with 7:27 left in the quarter.
After Miller's interception, the Lions took the next possession into the fourth quarter. Two plays in, Bennett found the end zone for the third time, racing in from seven yards out to put Southeastern up, 38-7 with 14:30 left in the contest. A quarterback sneak for a score by Barnett closed out the scoring with 11:34 remaining, providing the final 45-7 margin.
Southeastern will play its next three games away from home. The swing starts with an 11 a.m. game on Saturday, Sept. 7 at nationally-ranked TCU. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest and air on the Southeastern Radio Network.