Monday, December 10, 2018

SLU closes 2018 at No. 15/18 Nicholls for River Bell Classic

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018 | Views: 494

SLU closes 2018 at No. 15/18 Nicholls for River Bell Classic
HAMMOND---The Southeastern Louisiana football team will close out the 2018 season on Thursday, facing No. 15/18 Nicholls in the 2018 River Bell Classic Thursday at 6 p.m. at John L. Guidry Stadium in Thibodaux.

The in-state rivalry between the Lions (4-6, 4-4 Southland) and the Colonels (7-3, 6-2 Southland) has been highly competitive in recent years with SLU holding a 14-13 advantage. The last three meetings have been decided on the final play, as Nicholls won on a walk off field goal in 2015 and the Lions thwarting Colonel Hail Mary attempts in 2016 and 2017.

Nicholls heads into the regular season finale needing a win to earn a share of the Southland Conference championship and the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA FCS playoffs.

While the Lions don’t have postseason hopes, SLU first-year head coach Frank Scelfo’s squad has an opportunity to finish with a winning Southland Conference record for the third straight year and the sixth time in the past seven seasons. A win over the Colonels would also mark the fifth time in the past seven seasons that Southeastern has swept the season series versus its three in-state Southland opponents (Nicholls, McNeese and Northwestern State).

“We’re not looking at this last game as an opportunity to spoil Nicholls’ season,” Scelfo commented. “This is about us having one last chance to play our best game of the year and finishing out the season on an upward trend.”

Both Southeastern and Nicholls are coming off of impressive victories in their respective last games.

Southeastern rolled to a 23-6 victory over then-No. 11/12 McNeese on Nov. 3. The Lion defense was dominant, holding the Cowboys to 187 total yards. Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund was named Southland Conference and LSWA Defensive Player of the Week after leading SLU with eight tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks. Southeastern finished with 322 total yards (162 passing, 160 rushing). Juwan Petit-Frere led the Lions with seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, while Julius Maracalin rushed 13 times for 88 yards and a score.

Nicholls jumped out to a 24-0 lead on the way to a 47-14 victory over Stephen F. Austin, moving within a win over the Lions of securing the league championship and a berth in the NCAA playoffs. The Colonels racked up 538 total yards, as quarterback Chase Fourcade threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing. Nicholls held the Lumberjacks to 270 total yards, as Sully Laiche finished with 2.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

SLU enters its final game of the season, averaging 28.1 points and 417.7 yards per contest. Chason Virgil is currently third in FCS with 2,841 passing yards in his debut season in Hammond. The transfer from Fresno State has completed just under 61 percent of his passes to go with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Virgil’s top targets are Petit-Frere (47 catches, 763 yards, 5 touchdowns), CJ Turner (36-422-2 TD), Nih-Jer Jackson (30-336-1 TD) and Bransen Schwebel (27-433-3 TD). Darren Johnson (477 yards, 3 TD) and Devonte Williams (286-4 TD) are the top contributors on the ground.

Nicholls has held opponents to 330.2 yards and 21.2 points per game in 2018. Khristian Mims leads the Colonels with 56 tackles. Evan Veron (19.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks) and Laiche (16.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks) provide Nicholls with a prolific pass rushing tandem.

Opponents are averaging 32.5 points and 456.0 yards per contest versus the Southeastern defense this season. Tamarcus Russell leads SLU with 102 tackles. Xavier Lewis (63), Adeyemi-Berglund (59), Brayleon Thorns (54), Zeke Walker (49) and Ferlando Jordan (49) are the other Lion tackle leaders.

Russell also has a team-high 11.5 tackles for loss, while Adeyemi-Berglund has posted a team-high six tackles. Lewis has a team-high three forced fumbles and shares the team lead with Tre’ Spann with two fumble recoveries each.

Jordan leads the team with three interceptions, while Spann has two picks. Dejion Lynch paces the squad with six pass breakups.

Fourcade leads a Nicholls attack that averages 30.6 points and 468.9 yards per contest. The Colonel signal caller has thrown for 18 touchdowns and 2,319 yards, while also rushing for a team-high seven scores.

Dai’Jean Dixon (43 catches, 627 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Damion Jeanpiere (32-660-2 TD) are the team’s top pass catches. Dontrell Taylor leads the ground attack for the Colonels with 659 yards and five touchdowns.

Both teams feature accurate veteran kickers to highlight their special team efforts. SLU’s Jonathan Tatum heads into his final collegiate game having connected on 14-of-18 field goals and all 31 of his PAT attempts during his senior campaign. Preseason All-American Lorran Fonseca is 15-for-23 on field goals and 33-for-37 on PAT’s for the Colonels.

CLEAR BAG POLICY
Southeastern Athletics has instituted a clear bag policy for all ticketed events, effective with the start of football season. For more information on the clear bag policy, visit www.LionSports.net/clear.

TOUCHDOWN CLUB/S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the football program are encouraged to join the Touchdown Club. Lion football alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Touchdown Club and S Club (football) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern football program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Southeastern Football, follow @SLUFootball and @Coach_Scelfo on Twitter, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.