Lions in driver’s seat for Southland Conference crown after NSU victory


Troy Allen

Tight ends Bauer Sharp (left) and Tanner Olsen (right) celebrate in the end zone following Sharp’s one yard scoring grab just before halftime in SLU’s 23-7 win over NW State on Senior Night at Strawberry Stadium. (Nov. 12, 2022)

Southeastern took care of business on Saturday, defeating the visiting unbeaten Demons 23-7 at Strawberry Stadium on Senior Night.

The defense dominated from the get-go, shutting out Northwestern State in the first half and allowing just seven total points all game.

Senior safety Donniel Ward-Magee and sophomore ‘Star’ Jack Henderson each intercepted Demon quarterback Zachary Clement as Coach D’Ottavio’s unit surrendered just 209 total yards of offense. 

They held Clement to 16/30 (53.3 completion percentage) and 108 passing yards after the sophomore signal caller entered the contest leading the FCS’s 12th-ranked passing offense.

Northwestern State wide receiver duo of Zach Patterson and Javon Antonio came into the matchup ranking first and third in the conference in receptions and fourth and fifth in receiving yards while also combining for 11 touchdowns on the year.

Patterson paces the Southland with 75 catches on the season, which is good for fourth most in the entire country and was fresh off an NSU record 15 reception performance against Texas A&M-Commerce last week.

Patterson hauled in five grabs for 29 yards as Antonio posted a two catch for seven yards stat line vs. the Lions’ vaunted secondary. 

Sophomore sensation Zy Alexander and the highly decorated redshirt senior veteran Ferlando Jordan manned their corner positions to a T and were aided by a Southeastern pass rush that put Clement under duress for much of the game. 

Southeastern slowed down the rushing attack as well. Redshirt junior tailback Scooter Adams was held to 45 yards on 3.9 yards per carry. 

In total, NSU’s offense could only tally 101 yards rushing and 108 through the air while going 3-13 on third-down conversions. 

“Everything starts up front with our defense. Our guys controlled the line of scrimmage and caused some anxiety at the quarterback spot. Everything starts up front with our defensive line,” head coach Frank Scelfo said. 

On offense, senior running back Jessie Britt shined for 120 rushing yards on 18 carries (6.7 yards per attempt). Fellow senior running back Carlos Washington Jr. also chipped in with 46 yards and a touchdown. 

“Jessie Britt is an animal; he’s different. Every time Britt touches the ball, you have to hold your block for 30 seconds because the first few guys are not tackling him,” sophomore wide receiver Gage Larvadain said. 

Despite slowing down in the second half of the ball game, the Lions still posted 499 yards of total offense with 27 first downs. Quarterbacks Cephus Johnson and Eli Sawyer combined for 271 yards and a touchdown. 

Larvadain also contributed to SLU’s offense with seven receptions and 137 yards. He stated that his teammates giving him the opportunity and confidence inspired his performance.

The first quarter saw the Lions go up 7-0 after Washington Jr. ran in a 3-yard touchdown. In the second quarter, the Green and Gold scored 16 points, including a last-minute drive led by Sawyer. 

SLU went 59 yards in just a minute as Sawyer completed every pass on the drive. This included a one-yard touchdown catch by redshirt freshman tight end Bauer Sharp with five seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Lions took a commanding 23-0 lead into the half. 

It was a story of turnovers in the third and fourth quarters. Southeastern coughed up the ball twice and threw an interception. Despite the offense stalling out, Larvadain cited that it felt good to rely on a great defense when the offense was enduring through some trouble. 

This type of team culture has kept Southeastern going throughout the season, and it’s been a vital part of their 4-game winning streak. Scelfo stated the team has faced adversity all year, yet they continue to win games because they rely on each other. 

The Green and Gold will face off against Nicholls State on the road for their final regular season game. With a win, they will clinch at least a share of the Southland Conference Title and will earn the automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs, having the head-to-head tiebreaker over UIW and NSU.  

The River Bell Classic is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 6. The Colonels sit at 3-7 (3-2 in SLC) while SLU comes into Thibodaux at 7-3 (4-1 in SLC) in control of their own destiny.

Kickoff is at 6 p.m. Tune into ESPN+ for live coverage and stats.