Lion comeback falls short

The Lions Football team falls to No. 9 after suffering their first loss in the Southland Conference.

The Lions fell 27-17 to Stephen F. Austin in Homer Bryce Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 25 in Nacogdoches, Texas.

The first half of the game included no points for the Lions, but SFA came ready to play. Walter Payton Award candidate and senior quarterback Bryan Bennett rested a sore shoulder and sat out of the first half. The Lions only got a total of 55 yards for the first half.

Bennett replaced Jordan Barnett in the second half and finished 8-for-15 passing for 186 yards and a touchdown. Bennett also rushed for his team-high 13th touchdown of the season. The top target for the Lions was junior Jeff Smiley with four catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.

SLU’s defense did their best to keep SFA out of touchdown range, but SFA’s junior Micah Eugene led the Lumberjacks with 11 tackles.

SFA jumped ahead in the first quarter with a 7-0 lead on the opening drive. 

The Lion’s defense kept Southeastern in the game, but the offense struggled to contribute. The Lions got their first down with a little over 11 minutes left in the second quarter. The Lion’s moved into SFA territory, but Barnett did not throw far enough on fourth and sixth which gave the ball back to the Lumberjacks.

SFA senior running back Gus Johnson capped a 59-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown to put the Lumberjacks up 14-0 with a little over five minutes left in the first half. Senior Jordan Wiggs added to the score with a 25-yard field goal to bring the score to 17-0 at halftime. 

Bennett entered the game after halftime and began with a 30-yard run by junior Xavier Roberson. This was seven-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Bennett ran into the end zone from 8 yards out to get the first points on the board for the Lions. With 11 minutes left in the third quarter, the score was 17-7. 

The Lions moved into SFA territory after putting a stop to the Lumberjacks but only raised the score by three points with a 45-yard field goal by senior Ryan Adams. Lumberjacks were now only leading by seven points with a score of 17-10.

SFA came back early in the fourth quarter with a 40-yard run by Johnson followed by a field goal by Wiggs to bring the score to 20-10 with 13 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Southeastern was stopped; SFA got all the way to midfield and went on fourth-and-short only to return the ball to the Lions.

Southeastern drove into SFA territory again and extended the drive with a 21-yard throw from Bennett to senior Devante Scott. Two plays later, sophomore Patrick Martin intercepted Bennett and ran 75 yards. 

Three plays later, Zach Conque dove into the end zone from 10 yards out to give SFA a 27-17 lead with 2:24 remaining in the game. The Lions tried an onside kick, but failed ending the game with a score 27-17.

Southeastern has its first off week of the season. They return to Strawberry Stadium on Nov. 8 at 3 p.m. to host Houston Baptist.

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