HAMMOND — After weeks of succumbing to mistakes, big plays and a lack of physicality, Southeastern Louisiana’s young, inexperienced, it’s-too-late-in-the-season-to-make-drastic-changes defense finally fought back on Saturday.
Well, kind of.
The Lions defense made just enough plays to allow their offense, led by quarterback Brian Young and running back LaTruan Weary, to power Southeastern Louisiana to a 38-28 victory against Texas State at Strawberry Stadium.
Southeastern Louisiana (2-5) snapped a four-game losing streak. The Lions have won three consecutive games against Texas State.
“We needed (this victory) bad,” Southeastern Louisiana coach Mike Lucas said. “The program needed it. I needed it. My wife needed it.”
Young completed 26 of 44 passes for 349 yards. Weary rushed for 38 yards on seven carries and had three touchdowns. Sam Fairley rushed for 98 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. Receiver Simmie Yarborough set Southeastern Louisiana’s all-time receiving yardage record with a 10-yard reception in the second quarter.
Texas State owned a five-game winning streak after losing its first two games of the season to Texas Tech and Wyoming.
“That was a good football team we played against tonight,” Lucas said.
Southeastern Louisiana allowed 508 yards total offense, but the Lions defense held firm late in the game, which is something it failed to do during the losing streak.
Texas State (5-3) gained 218 yards in the second half, but was held to seven points. The Bobcats also had three fumbles and lost two of them.
“My hats goes out to (our defense),” Weary said.
Southeastern Louisiana led 28-21 when Weary scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. The play capped a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the first possession of the second half.
Then the Lions’ Parris Stewart forced a fumble by Derek Lopez on the ensuing kickoff, which Michael Chaney recovered at the Texas State 20-yard line. The play led to a 45-yard field goal by Seth Sebastian, which made the score 31-21.
Weary scored on a 9-yard touchdown run to make the score 38-21 with 12:46 remaining in the game.
With Southeastern Louisiana leading 38-28, the Lions defense forced an incompletion by Texas State quarterback Shaun Rutherford on a fourth-and-6 play at the Bobcats 47-yard line with 7:02 remaining.
“Our kids really rose to the occasion,” Lucas said.
The game featured contrasting offenses. Southeastern Louisiana played wide-open formations and mostly threw the ball. Texas State ran option out of the shotgun formation.
The teams combined for 590 yards total offense with Texas State able to tie the score after Southeastern Louisiana scored go-ahead touchdowns.
Southeastern Louisiana drove 75 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Young ran for a 17-yard touchdown. Young kept the drive alive with passes of 9 and 19 yards on the two third downs on the possession.
“We just came out focused,” Weary said.
Texas State came back and tied the score at 7 on the ensuing possession when it drove 79 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown. Running back Marcus Curry ran for a 5-yard touchdown on a possession that had three third-down conversions.
Southeastern Louisiana running back Sam Fairley sped around left end for a 6-yard touchdown run out of the shot-gun formation to make the score 14-7.
But Texas State tied the score at 14 on the last play of the quarter when Rutherford threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to receiver Darius Bolden, who ran a seam route, got behind the Southeastern Louisiana secondary and outran the Lions defenders for the score.
Southeastern Louisiana reclaimed the lead again when Weary bounced and lunged up the middle to finish a 7-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-14 with 9:40 remaining in the first half.
But Texas State tied the score again when running back Terrence Franks ran up the middle for a 4-yard touchdown run with 1:56 left. Franks had three rushes for 59 yards, including a 58-yard run, on the five-play, 77-yard scoring drive.