HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana’s offense is on a scoring pace the Lions haven’t seen in four years.
The Lions have scored at least 40 points in each of their past three games, only the fifth such run in school history and the first since 2013.
But Southeastern (3-3, 3-1 Southland) will face a stingy defense Saturday when it travels to Houston Baptist (1-4, 0-3) for a 6 p.m. matchup.
It’s also the first of a two-game road swing for Southeastern, which will follow up the Houston Baptist contest with a trip to Abilene Christian.
“If you can get a conference win on the road, it’s pretty huge,” Southeastern coach Ron Roberts said.
Entering Saturday, Houston Baptist has the Southland Conference’s third-best rushing defense (allowing 127.6 yards per game) and second-best total defense (347 yards per game). The Huskies are led by senior linebacker Garrett Dolan, a 240-pound All-American who is second in the Southland with 57 total tackles this season.
Meanwhile, Southeastern counters with the league’s best rushing offense (291.5 yards per game) and second-best unit in total offense (463.8 yards per game) and scoring (37.3 points per game). Four Lions running backs — Darren Johnson, Marcus Cooper, Julius Maracalin and Eugene Bethea — have rushed for at least 250 yards this season.
Facing a stout rushing defense wasn’t much of a challenge for the Lions last week. Southeastern’s previous foe, Incarnate Word, entered last Saturday’s game with the league’s second-best rushing defense but gave up 353 rushing yards to the Lions.
Roberts said Houston Baptist’s defense is loaded with experience, which gives the Huskies an edge.
“The defense is outstanding. They’ve got 10 seniors over there, a very mature group,” Roberts said. “They’ll be a huge challenge for us.”
Houston Baptist’s offense, meanwhile, is stuck on the other end of the Southland spectrum. The Huskies are last in the conference in scoring offense (11.4 points per game), total offense (242.2 yards per game) and passing offense (158.4 yards per game).
Roberts said the Huskies have solid skill players on offense — running backs James Brown and Terrance Peters have combined for 364 rushing yards — but they haven’t been consistent enough on offense to stay in games.
“They’re not scoring a lot of points, but we’ve got to make sure they don’t score any points because their defense is playing at such a high level,” Roberts said.
Southeastern’s offense is playing about as well as it has all season. The Lions have averaged 566.3 total yards per game in their three-game winning streak.
Though the running game is leading the way like usual for Southeastern, the Lions’ passing game is hitting a groove that’s adding an extra dimension to an already revved-up offense.
Led by quarterback Lorenzo Nunez, the Lions are second in the Southland with a 149.6 pass efficiency rating and have thrown for 686 yards and nine touchdowns in their last three games. Five of those scoring tosses came in Southeastern’s 49-30 win over Incarnate Word; three were hauled in by redshirt freshman wideout Austin Mitchell.
“We knew going in they were really good on run defense and they loaded up their front to stop that,” Roberts said of Incarnate Word. “We knew we had plays on the perimeter.”