HAMMOND — Film review for Southeastern Louisiana football coach Ron Roberts a day after his team’s 35-20 defeat at the hands of Tulane wasn’t any more palatable than Saturday’s original version.
It only accentuated what Roberts saw firsthand in the Lions’ first loss of the season: a lack of execution offensively, coupled with three turnovers, the inability to get off the field defensively on third down and an inordinate number of penalties.
“We thought we were the better football team and we played poorly,” Roberts said Tuesday during his weekly luncheon. “That’s probably the toughest thing our kids and coaching staff have to swallow.”
Tulane handed Southeastern (2-1) its worst loss in their last five meetings, jumping out to a 21-0 lead, 28-3 halftime advantage and holding off a late charge from the Lions down the stretch.
“Obviously things didn’t go right,” Southeastern quarterback Bryan Bennett said. “Too many penalties; giving up the football, which are things we just can’t do. You can sit there and watch the film and get upset about it and make up excuses or you can find the positives in it. We see how close we were and almost gave ourselves a chance after shooting ourselves in the foot a bunch of times.”
Southeastern, which dropped to No. 4 in the FCS Coaches Top 25 polls, continues the second of a three-game road trip with a visit to Southeast Missouri (1-2) for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
Success on third down, coupled with personal foul penalties on Southeastern’s defense, directly contributed to all three of Tulane’s first-half touchdowns, while the Lions were outgained 214-84 and had just five first downs.
When Southeastern managed a defensive highlight in the first half — Micah Eugene’s fumble recovery — the Lions weren’t able to capitalize with a touchdown and wound up settling for the first of Ryan Adams’ field goals in the game.
“Credit them for converting five of seven on third downs,” Roberts said of Tulane in the opening half. “Some of them we’ve got great coverage and the guy (Tanner Lee) makes a nice throw and receiver makes a nice catch. There were several opportunities for us to get off the field on third downs and didn’t. Just couldn’t seem to get anything going on offense in the first half and we dug ourselves a huge hole.”
Roberts lamented his team being flagged a season-high 15 times for 142 yards, some of which led to stalled possessions on offense or enabled Tulane to maintain drives, including two horse collar calls.
“You’re going to put yourself behind the eight ball and not have an opportunity to win,” Roberts said. “It’s a little frustrating. It wasn’t anything our kids consciously went out to do. I don’t know if the pressure got to them or what or the frustration once the game got rolling.”
Southeastern, which was outgained overall 360-271, rattled off 10 straight points to get within 28-13 in the fourth quarter.
Bennett’s 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeremy Meyers of St. Michael the Archangel and Adams’ 50-yard field goal after Isiah Corbett’s interception narrowed the gap with 12:29 to go but Tulane answered with a back-breaking 74-yard touchdown pass less than a minute later.
“I think at halftime it was a mindset change for the whole team,” Southeastern free safety Tyler Stoddard, who had a team-high eight tackles. “We realized we slacked a little bit in the first half and if we didn’t respond it would get worse. We had to bring our best game for the second half and it got better than in the first half.”
All-Southland Conference cornerback Harlan Miller suffered a dislocated shoulder Saturday and will miss several weeks, Roberts said. Either junior Denzel Thompson or sophomore Derrick Raymond will move over to Miller’s right cornerback position with redshirt freshman Ryan Sigers backing them up. … For the second time this season Corbett, who had five tackles and two interceptions against Tulane, was named the Southland Defensive Player of the Week.