HAMMOND — Just call Southeastern Louisiana University’s 38-28 football win over Texas State last week a case of faith rewarded.
The Lions snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory. SLU rolled up 496 yards of total offense and recovered a pair of fumbles as quarterback Brian Young passed for 349 yards and rushed for a touchdown.
Kory Theodore had seven receptions for 100 yards, and Sam Fairley rushed 24 times for 94 yards and a touchdown. LaTruan Weary added seven carries for 33 yards and three touchdowns.
“Our key word for the week was ‘faith,’ the definition of faith being a belief in something that’s unseen, and we hadn’t seen a win in a while,” SLU coach Mike Lucas said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon on the SLU campus. “So our kids rallied around that. We had great enthusiasm on the sideline for the entire football game.”
And Lucas said he had another moment he called “rewarding” in the waning moments of the game.
“When we got the football that last time and we go to our victory play — take a knee and run the clock out — when it was definitely over, a group of the guys — Simmie (Yarborough), Brandon Collins, there was probably five or six guys came up ... and they all hugged me and said, ‘Coach, faith. We had the faith.’ It’s satisfying in a couple of different ways. ... They do listen.”
For Lucas it was a confirmation, his words had sunk in.
“You know, sometimes you’re up there talking all the time and you’re wondering if anything is sinking in, but that they are listening and that they realize that everything we talk about — tackling, turnovers — it all came down to a little, tiny word: faith,” he said. “If we just have the faith to take care of our business and do the things we’re supposed to do, we can be a good football team.”
The Lions (2-5, 0-3) will look to carry some momentum into Saturday’s 6 p.m. Southland Conference game at Central Arkansas (5-3, 4-1).
“I think it gives us a confidence boost, beating a good team like Texas State and then realizing that every week in this conference it’s going to be those kinds of ballgames,” Lucas said.
Mix it up
Lucas said the Lions shifted their defense to an odd-front look in an effort to combat Texas State’s option-based offense.
“We had seen on video that they didn’t like certain plays against an odd front, so we changed up some things during the week, and we were right,” Lucas said. “It took them out of some plays that they had normally been running against even fronts, and it limited some of the things that we had to see during the game.”
David Durden started at defensive end for the Lions, while Keiron Jones moved from cornerback to safety.
“We had moved Keiron Jones from corner to safety during the week because part of our problem had been tackling at the free safety position,” Lucas said. “So we moved Keiron back there, and he rewarded us with 11 tackles and played very well.”
Durden finished with 10 tackles against the Bobcats, while strong safety Tyler Stoddard had 11 tackles.
Yarborough, who is SLU’s career leader in catches (202) and receiving touchdowns (29), set the school’s career receiving yardage mark at 2,417 after a five-catch, 79-yard effort against Texas State. He moved past Felton Huggins, who collected 2,345 yards from 2003-05.
Now, Yarborough has a pair of SLC marks in his sights: most career receptions (211, set by Sam Houston State’s Matt Dominguez from 1997-2000) and most career touchdown receptions (32, by Texas State’s Cameron Luke from 2006-08).
“I know when you say Southeastern record, we went awhile there without football, but to say that he’s going to get a Southland Conference record, or maybe two, that’s huge,” Lucas said. “And I’m really pulling for him to do that.”
The start time for Southeastern’s Nov. 5 homecoming game against Sam Houston State has been moved up to 3:30 p.m. The game was originally scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ... SLU will host a Huddle Session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at La Carreta in Amite.