Southeastern Louisiana backup quarterback Jordan Barnett has been waiting his turn for five years.
First, he was redshirted. Then, a torn ACL required three separate surgeries before he began serving as the backup to Bryan Bennett, who’s spent the past two seasons rewriting the Lion record books.
But in Saturday’s 76-7 win against Houston Baptist at Strawberry Stadium, Barnett got his chance to do his part in leading Southeastern to its most prolific offensive performance in school history.
“It was kind of a rough ride,” Barnett said. “… It’s great. That’s why I’m here — to get on the field when I can and make plays. That’s what I love to do.”
The Lions set a school record with 806 total yards against the Huskies while falling short of the 79 points needed to set the school scoring record.
Barnett set the tone for the night with 233 yards and three touchdowns on 13-for-17 passing after Bennett went down with an undisclosed foot injury in the first quarter.
Southeastern also lost kick returner Xavier Roberson to an injury during the game.
Bennett finished the game with 127 total yards and a pair of passing touchdown, including a 37-yard strike to receiver Jeff Smiley on the first play of the game. Smiley finished with six catches for 90 yards and two scores.
The game ended with Southeastern running the ball in the red zone with a few seconds left on the clock.
Southeastern coach Ron Roberts said he wasn’t intentionally going for any records, but the Lions opted to not kneel on the ball on the final drive.
“I was actually hoping we wouldn’t score at the end,” Roberts said. “I was going to run the ball with our threes in there. They need reps and they want to score. You hope they play well, but you hope they get stopped before the goal line.”
Third-string quarterback D’Shaie Landor scored on a fourth-down, 5-yard rollout with eight minutes to go in the game despite Southeastern already leading 69-7. The score was Landor’s second of the game, both of which came in the fourth quarter.
Barnett said he felt the team was pushing for the record, even if it wasn’t verbally stated.
Several other players stepped up in Bennett’s absence as running back Kody Sutton had a career night with 109 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries. Sutton’s play of the game came late in the third quarter when he took off for a 52-yard, cross-field run where the Huskies defenders struggled to slow him down.
“We’re excited about (the 800 yards),” Sutton said. “ We didn’t know about it until after the game, but it’s exciting. Any time you can get that many yards as an offense, that’s exciting to us.”
On the flip side, Southeastern’s defense held Houston Baptist to 80 yards of total offense. The Lions did not give up a first down in the second half and only allowed five in the first.
It was the fewest yards allowed by any Southland Conference team all season, but even then, defensive coordinator Karl Scott wasn’t satisfied.
“(Scott) said at the beginning of the second half, I think they had 60 yards, he said, ‘I want to get it down to 50. If at the end of the game, they aren’t at 50 yards, I’m not happy,’ ” Southeastern linebacker Drew Misita said. “It’s kind of just motivating yourself each drive. Whoever is in is the starter at the time.”
The only crack in the Lions armor came late in the first quarter when the Huskies put together an 11-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a Larry Day 1-yard touchdown run.