Southeastern Louisiana has ‘plenty of reasons to play’ as it prepares for Incarnate Word _lowres

Photo by RANDY BERGERON/SLU Public Information Southeastern Louisiana tailback Kody Sutton stretches for more yardage close to the end zone against Lamar on Oct. 1 at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond.

HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana running back Kody Sutton has just the plan to preserve his greatest athletic memory.

“It’s something I’ll be able to tell my kids and grandkids for the rest of my life,” Sutton said.

Sutton had already felt the exhiliration of such a moment.

Sutton recalled the first game of his senior year at Texas High in Texarkana, when he scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

But even the soft-spoken Sutton, a Wyoming transfer now in his final season, realizes the gravity of his latest feat, scoring from 1 yard out on fourth down to lift No. 17 Southeastern to a 30-27 home victory Oct. 1 over Lamar.

Sutton’s show of heart and desire, turning a potentially game-ending loss into a possible springboard toward a third straight Southland Conference championship, ranked right at the top of his list of athletic accomplishments.

“There’s no comparison,” Sutton said. “This is at another level. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

Southeastern (3-1, 2-0) endured a range of emotions against Lamar, jumping out to a 13-0 lead, trailing 14-13 at halftime and 24-16 midway through the third quarter.

Two key second-half stops by the Lions’ defense resulted in field goals and kept the Cardinals within one score when their offense took the field facing the following task: trailing 27-23 with the ball at its own 21 and 7:55 remaining.

“We walked into the huddle and everyone said to lock in,” Sutton said. “We said, ‘Let’s go get this done.’ It’s no different than any day in practice.”

Southeastern set the bar high earlier this season, driving 75 yards in 16 plays with Sutton scoring a game-sealing TD from 3 yards out in a 34-20 SLC-opening win at Northwestern State.

This time, SLU covered the 79 yards in 17 plays — consuming 6:36 off the clock.

The anatomy of “The Drive” broke down like this: 15 running plays by six different ball carriers, 1-of-2 passes for 41 yards and a pair of successful conversions on third and fourth downs.

“It’s based on what they’re doing, it’s by their alignment,” Roberts said of the Lions’ play-calling. “Most of those plays on that drive were checked.”

Roberts credited first-year starting quarterback D’Shaie Landor for getting Southeastern into more advantageous plays than the ones originally called.

It’s certainly hard to argue with the results under such pressure-packed circumstances.

SLU picked up the first of its three first downs when Landor completed his only pass — a 41-yard completion to Brandon Acker to Lamar’s 28-yard line.

Xavier Roberson converted SLU’s initial fourth-down try — a fourth-and-one — with a 4-yard gain around the right side with 3:25 to go. The Lions created a first-and-goal opportunity from the 3 following Jeff Smiley’s 7-yard sweep.

“We’ve got the skill guys where everybody wants the ball,” Sutton said. “That’s what you want when the game’s on the line.”

Three running plays resulted in a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line when Lamar called its second timeout on the drive, then overloaded the tackle box for SLU’s fourth-down play — which was a handoff to Sutton, who initially bounced into one of his linemen.

“We stoned them but we didn’t blow them back into the end zone,” SLU tackle Pierson Villarubia said. “It was a great effort by him.”

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Sutton, who squats 520 pounds, cut toward the right behind Villarubia and guard Travis Romero. That’s where he was hit by Lamar’s Larry Carroll, but the 6-2, 315-pounder wound up laying across the goal line under Sutton for the touchdown with 1:19 left.

“It was the one time in my life there was an advantage to being short,” Sutton said. “It was just me against him, and I felt like I wanted it more. I knew I got in.”