SAN ANTONIO — Southeastern Louisiana did not care who the opponent was, the Lions wanted to return to feeling good about themselves.
And boy, were they feeling good Saturday night.
Southeastern set a single-game record for rushing touchdowns and also set its Southland Conference mark for most points, rolling to a 63-7 victory over the University of Incarnate Word at Benson Stadium.
The Lions (3-2) rushed for 367 yards and seven touchdowns in snapping a two-game skid with a lopsided victory in their conference opener.
“I think the big thing is there was probably a lot of frustration probably taken out on that field today from our guys over the last two weeks,” Southeastern coach Ron Roberts said. “Things just didn’t click (the last two weeks), and we had a lot of things not go our way. It was good to get a ‘W’. A ‘W’ heals a lot of wounds.”
It was the third-highest rushing total in school history. Kody Sutton led the Lions with 104 yards rushing on 16 carries despite sitting out much of the second half with Southeastern holding a sizeable lead.
“They’ve got a running back, No. 4 (Sutton), I don’t even know his name is, but we couldn’t tackle him,” Incarnate Word coach Larry Kennan said. “It was like trying to tackle (Bears Hall of Famer) Gayle Sayers. They are just really good.”
Lions quarterback Bryan Bennett had 301 total yards and four touchdowns in limited action, sitting with 5 minutes left in the third quarter and the Lions leading 42-7.
His departure did little to slow Southeastern, as Jordan Barnett stepped in and drove the offense 20 yards on three plays in just 42 seconds for its seventh touchdown. Barnett directed three scoring drives, but Bennett established the dominance early before an enthusiastic crowd of about 200 Lions fans.
Bennett accounted for 55 yards on the game’s opening possession, directing Southeastern on a 75-yard, 13-play drive. Only one play resulted in negative yardage during the six-minute drive, which Rasheed Harrell ended with a 1-yard touchdown carry.
“We really had to just lock back in and get our edge back as a team,” Bennett said. “That’s something we talked about all week at practice. Even once we went up, it didn’t become about them, it became about us getting better. Us working four quarters on executing, getting other guys in the game so they can get their reps and get ready for when we need them or if we need them. It didn’t matter who we played this week, it was about us getting better.”
Bennett followed with a 21-yard touchdown run, pulling the football down when he couldn’t find an open receiver and weaving through the defense untouched.
Southeastern had two touchdown runs negated by penalties on its fourth possession, but they simply delayed the inevitable. Bennett eventually scored on a 12-yard run to put the Lions up 21-0 with 9:50 left in the first half.
Incarnate Word used a trick play to avoid a shutout. Quarterback Breylann McCollum dumped a pass in the backfield to receiver Kody Edwards, who lobbed a wobbly pass that Cole Wick waited for at the 2-yard line and was thrown into end zone for a 24-yard touchdown reception with 1:40 left in the first half.
Southeastern finished with 564 total yards.
“It was all due to the offensive line and receivers blocking down field, they take pride in that,” Sutton said. “The offensive coordinator and the position coaches, they all take pride in blocking. That’s the first thing, if you can’t block, you can’t play.”
It was the Lions’ most lopsided victory since trouncing Jacksonville 35-3 in its season opener Aug. 30. Southeastern limited the Dolphins to 222 yards in that game and held Incarnate Word to 167 yards on Saturday.
“I’m going to make a prediction, in two years when they come back, we’re going to beat them,” Kennan said. “Mark it down, we’re not there yet, but we are on the way to beating them.”