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Texas A&M Commerce beats #19 Southeastern on homecoming 31-28
HAMMOND, La. – The No. 19/20 Southeastern Louisiana University football team dropped a 31-28 decision to Texas A&M-Commerce in Southland Conference action Saturday afternoon at Strawberry Stadium.
The loss was the first of the season at home for SLU (3-3, 1-1 SLC) and spoiled the Lions' Homecoming celebration. Texas A&M-Commerce (3-2, 1-0 SLC), which is in its first season as a Division I and Southland member, finished with a 485-384 advantage in total yards on the way to a win in its league debut.
Carlos Washington Jr. rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Southeastern offense. Making his first career start under center in place of the injured Cephus Johnson III, Eli Sawyer completed 21-of-39 passes for 253 yards for SLU with Gage Larvadain (six catches, 48 yards) his primary target.
Donniel Ward-Magee led Southeastern with 12 tackles, while Arlen Williams (two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery), Darrius Harry (two sacks) and Donte' Daniels (one forced fumble, one fumble recovery) were among the other defensive standouts on Saturday.
Texas A&M-Commerce did much of its damage through the air, as Eric Rodriguez threw for 374 yards and four touchdowns on 26-for-38 passing. The trio of Andrew Armstrong (eight catches, 153 yards, 2 TD), Jaden Proctor (7-62-1 TD) and Kenedy Snell (6-113-1) were the top targets for Rodriguez.
Southeastern drove into Commerce territory on the opening drive of the contest, but were turned over on downs. Two plays later, Rodriguez found Snell wide open for a 69-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 10:30 left in the opening quarter.
The team's traded empty possessions and on the final play of the first quarter, Williams stripped Spencer Long and recovered at the TAMU-C 32-yard line to give Southeastern an instant scoring threat heading into the second quarter.
The host Lions took advantage of the short field. Jessie Britt capped a three-play scoring drive with a six-yard touchdown run to knot the score just over a minute into the second quarter.
Texas A&M-Commerce broke the tie on a 33-yard field goal by Emmanuel Adagbon with 5:30 remaining in the first half.
After the two teams traded punts, Southeastern took the lead on its final drive of the second quarter. Washington Jr. bulled in from a yard out to send SLU into the break with a 14-10 lead.
The advantage would be short-lived. On the first play of the second half, Armstrong took a quick slant from Rodriguez and raced 77 yards untouched for a touchdown and a 17-14 TAMU-C advantage.
After SLU was forced to punt, the visiting Lions added to their advantage. Proctor ran under a 23-yard scoring pass from Rodriguez that gave TAMU-C a 24-14 advantage.
Southeastern drove into Texas A&M-Commerce territory on the ensuing drive, but was turned over on downs. After the SLU defense made a stop, the host Lions went on a seven-play, 51-yard scoring march to cut into the deficit. On fourth-and-one, Washington Jr. took a direct snap and powered in from four yards out to cut the TAMU-C advantage to 24-21 heading into the final quarter.
After a penalty extended its drive, Texas A&M-Commerce extended its lead back to double digits. Armstrong hauled in a four-yard touchdown pass from Rodriguez to cap a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took over eight minutes off the clock and gave the Lions a 31-21 lead with 8:22 left in the contest.
Southeastern would not go away quietly. SLU went on a 12-play, 64-yard scoring march that Washington Jr. capped with a one-yard plunge to cut the lead to 31-28 with 4:44 remaining.
SLU would never get the ball back, as the visitors garnered four first downs to run out the clock and hand the Lions their first home loss of 2022.
After a bye week, the Lions will be back in action on Oct. 22, traveling to Jacksonville State for a 1 p.m. nonconference contest to open a three-game road swing. The game with the Gamecocks will be televised on ESPN+ and can be heard on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM, The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM).
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