Lions tread uncharted waters with win at Lamar

Prior to Saturday’s contest versus Lamar (2-3,0-1) for first year head coach Ron Roberts and his Lions (2-3,2-0) football team it was all about opportunity. The Lions had an opportunity to advance to 2-0 in the Southland Conference for the first time since 2009, and snap a 14 game road-losing streak dating back two seasons.
Roberts and his squad seized every moment as their 31-21 victory over the Cardinals moved the team into first place in the Southland Conference.
“That has a nice ring to it, first-place. Hopefully we can keep it that way,” stated Roberts.
Slow starts have plague the Lions all season, but Saturday that wasn’t the case as the Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter thanks to two rushing touchdowns from senior running back Michael Chaney.
“We got off to a great start,” said Roberts. “We were able to control the clock some with the run game and that’s what we’ve been missing.”
Perhaps the ground game was the reason for the Lions great start as the Lions rushed for 165 yards surpassing their season total of 132 yards. A key contributor to the ground game was freshman Xavier Roberson who was moved to running back earlier in the week. Roberson saw the bulk of the carries when Chaney was boggled by a knee injury. The freshman carried the ball 15 times for 75 yards.
After the Lions early success, Lamar began to climb back into the game after quarterback Ryan Mossakowski threw an eight yard touchdown pass to Payden McVey to cut the deficit 14-7 with 10:00 remaining in the in the first half. The Lions would stall on their next three drives going into the half with a lead for the first time this season.
Southeastern opened the second half on a high note putting together a 15 play drive that lasted 4:28 capped off by a 26 yard field goal from senior Seth Sebastian giving the Lions a two possession lead 17-7.
The Cardinals would respond with a score of their own reducing the deficit to three points, 17-14. The Lions held Lamar scoreless on their next drive forcing a punt.  Senior defensive back Robert Alford was back to receive for the Lions as he turned the 48-yard put by Kollin Kahler into a 75-yard punt return. The return set the Lions up going down the stretch and put the Cardinals out of their element for the remainder of the game.
“The punt return was huge, and from then on, we just didn’t do enough,” stated Cardinal head coach Ray Woodard.  “Hats off to them. They did more right from the middle of the third quarter to the end of the game than we did.”
The return was the thrid longest in school history and gave Southeastern a 24-14 lead that they took into the fourth quarter.
The Lions added one more score to begin the fourth quarter as an 11 play 57-yard drive resulted in a touchdown throw from senior quarterback Nathan Stanley to sophomore running back Blaine LeBlanc.
Late in the fourth period, Alford once again put on his late game heroics as he picked off Mossakowski, inside 3:00 left to play. This would mark the second consecutive week that Alfords efforts helped propel the Lions to a win as last week he caught the interception that put a stop to McNeese State’s final drive inside the three minute mark. As a unit the Lions defense accounted for four interceptions on the day. Along with Alford, sophomore Tyler Stoddard, freshman Denzel Thompson and senior Tay Alford each had interceptions.
“I was extremely pleased with our defensive effort,” stated Roberts. “We did a nice job defending the run and creating turnovers.”
The Lions return to action this week on the road again as they travel to Birmingham, Ala. to face non-conference opponent UAB.