The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

Southeastern overwhelmed by Bulldogs, hope Jags yield different result

Haley Dupre
SLU senior center John Allen in action vs. Murray State during the Lions 48-14 victory at Strawberry Stadium a year ago. (Oct. 1, 2022 – Hammond)

SLU football opened its season in Starkville, Mississippi last Saturday (Sept. 2) against SEC opponent Mississippi State. Despite a competitive first half, the Bulldogs pulled away in the second en route to a 48-7 victory. 

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Eli Sawyer engineered the Lions’ only scoring drive of the afternoon. It was an impressive 16-play, 79-yard drive that featured a third and 20 conversion courtesy of former LA Tech running back Harlan Dixon.  

The Slidell native caught Sawyer’s screen pass and raced 28 yards for an SLU first down before senior tight end Jacob Logan capped off the scoring march with a two-yard touchdown reception, making it 10-7 with 5:32 to play in the second quarter. 

Junior signal caller Zachary Clement actually tossed the pass to Logan as he was subbed in on the goal line to finish off the drive. The Northwestern State transfer threw his first touchdown in the Green and Gold while also earning his first career Lions start. 

To no surprise, Southeastern implemented their two quarterback system against Mississippi State and that is to be expected moving forward as the season progresses. 

It was tough sledding overall for SLU’s offense against a stingy Bulldogs’ defense. Sawyer finished the game 11/19 for 85 yards, while his counterpart Clement went 5/9 for 40 yards and one touchdown. 

Dixon provided a spark out of the backfield with eight carries for 51 yards, averaging over six yards per tote and was also the Lions leading receiver with four catches for an additional 42 yards, tallying 93 total yards from scrimmage. 

Sophomore running back Rodeo Graham Jr. was also efficient with his touches. The Baton Rouge native finished with 28 yards on six touches (five rushes and one reception). Both figure to play key roles in Southeastern’s offensive attack, much like Sawyer and Clement. 

SLU’s defense only allowed 20 first half points and were put in tough positions by its offense. Mississippi State capitalized off a Lions fumble, getting the ball at the Southeastern 36 and finding paydirt three plays later for its first touchdown of the afternoon. 

The Bulldogs answered the lone Lion score with an impressive 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of their own to extend their lead back up to ten points, 17-7. 

Following a short 31 yard punt from Southeastern, Mississippi State got the ball at their 40 yard line and kicked a 49 yard field goal as time expired in the first half, making it 20-7 Bulldogs heading into the locker room. 

The second half was all MSU, as the difference in depth between the two sides became apparent. The SEC side outscored the reigning SLC champions 28-0 over the final 30 minutes of the game, ultimately winning 48-7. 

Overall, there were some positive takeaways from a Southeastern perspective. Mississippi State is undoubtedly the best team SLU will face all year and both quarterbacks figure to improve as the season wears on. 

The Lions have a formidable one two punch in Dixon and Graham at tailback and will be aided by the return of top receiver Maurice Massey in the coming weeks. Massey, a redshirt sophomore who transferred from Missouri a year ago, has been dealing with an injury but hopes to make a return for conference play, starting with HCU on Sept. 23. 

As for the defense, a short field on an interception and a blocked punt for a touchdown in the second half inflated the opposition’s point total in a respectable showing versus All-SEC quarterback Will Rogers. 

The secondary appears to be in good hands despite the departures of All-Southland performers Ferlando Jordan, Zy Alexander and Jack Henderson. That is mainly due to sophomore defensive back Ian Goodly’s breakout week one performance. 

The Covington High alum totaled 15 tackles (8 solo) and 0.5 tackles for loss in a superb outing against the Bulldogs. Goodly was awarded Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his showing and appears to be an emerging leader amongst a young but talented SLU secondary.

Next up for the Lions is another tough road matchup, this time against the Sun Belt’s South Alabama in Mobile. The Jaguars are fresh off a 37-17 defeat to No. 24 Tulane in New Orleans but present a difficult challenge for the Green and Gold. 

USA went 10-3 in 2022 and returned 18 of its 22 starters from a year ago. Kick-off is set for 4 p.m. today and the game will be aired on ESPN+. 

Stay tuned to The Lion’s Roar for further SLU football updates. 

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About the Contributors
Chase Gispert
Chase Gispert, Sports Editor
Chase Gispert is a communication major with a concentration in sports communication. He joined The Lion’s Roar in March of 2021 and now serves as sports editor. Chase is a native of Madisonville. He has a strong passion for sports and is excited about where the future may take him.
Haley Dupre
Haley Dupre, Photography Editor
Haley Dupre' is a sports communication major from Donaldsonville. She joined our team in Oct. 2021 as a reporter. In addition to her contributions to Student Publications, Haley actively participates in managing SLU Track and Field's social media channels. With her passion for capturing photos, she aspires to build a career in sports photography.
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    Joey GrazianoSep 12, 2023 at 11:31 pm

    Thorough game breakdown.. well organized