January 22, 2022
"Changing Lives, Improving Communities"

SLU Holds Off Northwestern State For 24-17 Victory  

HAMMOND, La. – Southeastern Louisiana held off a late Northwestern State rally for a 24-17 Southland Conference football victory Saturday night in Strawberry Stadium.

A sack by senior linebacker Tamarcus Russell on the final play clinched the win for the Lions (2-3, 2-1 Southland). The victory was the first at home and second straight overall for SLU under first-year head coach Frank Scelfo and the seventh straight for Southeastern versus the in-state rival Demons (2-2, 1-1 Southland).

Scelfo was pleased to come out with a hard-fought victory against a game Northwestern State squad.

“It’s hard to win in the Southland Conference,” Scelfo commented. “The level of play and coaching in this league top-to-bottom continues to improve. We’re 2-1 in conference play and that’s an accomplishment against the level of competition we’ve faced.”

Scelfo, who won the first coaching matchup with his son, Anthony, who serves as the Demons’ quarterbacks coach, was pleased with elements of play on both sides of the ball.

“Hats off to our defense tonight,” Scelfo commented. “(Defensive coordinator) Louie (Cioffi) did a great job implementing a defensive game plan that caused Northwestern State some problems. We gave up some yardage, but we came up with some big plays in key situations.

“We got off to a fast start offensively today and really did some good things in the first half,” Scelfo added. “We have to run the football better to protect the lead in the second half. That’s on myself and our staff to get our guys to play more physical moving forward.”

A career night for sophomore wide receiver Austin Mitchell highlighted the Southeastern offensive effort. The Plaquemine, Louisiana native hauled in five passes for 182 yards – the sixth-highest total in program history and the most by a Lion since 2014 – and a touchdown. His 42-yard punt return also set up another SLU score.

SLU junior quarterback Chason Virgil threw for 316 yards on 19-of-28 passing. Virgil hooked up with Mitchell and freshman C.J. Turner on scoring tosses.

The SLU defense registered a season-high five sacks, as junior Xavier Lewis, senior Sean Clavelle, Russell, sophomore Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund and senior Imani Mitchell each were credited with stopping the quarterback behind the line. Junior Tre’ Spann and Russell each recovered fumbles, while Berglund and Lewis were credited with forced fumbles, as Southeastern held the Demons to a 2-for-6 success rate in the red zone.

NSU junior quarterback Shelton Eppler threw for 268 yards and a touchdown on 25-for-40 passing. Junior Jazz Ferguson was Eppler’s top target, finishing with six catches for 117 yards, while junior Jared West rushed for 137 yards on 22 carries to lead the Demons.

Southeastern wasted no time jumping out to a 7-0 lead on the second play of the game. Mitchell made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on a bomb from Virgil and raced untouched for a 76-yard touchdown – the longest play from scrimmage in 2018 for the Lions.

Northwestern State answered with a scoring march on its first drive. A 22-yard West run highlighted an 11-play, 56-yard drive that was capped by a 36-yard field goal by sophomore Austyn Fendrick to pull the Demons within, 7-3, with 8:54 remaining in the opening quarter.

On the next Lion possession, a short Virgil pass went right off the hands of junior Juwan Petit-Frere and into the grasp of Demon junior Kevin Ratliff. Ratliff’s pick set the Demons up with good field positon.

NSU would take advantage and march all the way down to the SLU five-yard line. On third-and-one, SLU senior Jared West was stopped cold by SLU senior Sean Clavelle. On fourth-and-one, Eppler’s pass for junior Quan Shorts sailed wide and the Lions took over on downs.

The two teams traded empty possessions following Southeastern’s first goal-line stand. On NSU’s first punt, Mitchell raced down the sidelines 42 yards on the return to set up Southeastern at the Northwestern State eight-yard line. Two plays later, Virgil found Turner open for an eight-yard touchdown. Turner’s first collegiate score gave SLU a 14-3 lead with 13:05 left in the opening half.

Neither team could get much going on the next several possessions, until SLU took over at its own 20-yard line after a punt midway through the second quarter. A 35-yard pass from Virgil to Mitchell highlighted a 10-play, 80-yard scoring march. Junior Lorenzo Nunez bulled in from a yard out to give SLU a commanding 21-3 lead with 2:29 left in the half.

Northwestern State mounted a nice two-minute drill to close out the half, but Fendrick hooked a 27-yard attempt wide right to allow the Lions to maintain a 21-3 halftime advantage.

After SLU forced Northwestern State into a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half, Southeastern added to its lead with another quick score. A 49-yard Mitchell catch-and-run set up a 24-yard field goal by senior Jonathan Tatum and a 24-3 lead with 10:53 remaining in the third quarter.

NSU then took nearly eight minutes off the clock on its next possession, which took 20 plays and covered 79 yards. On third-and-goal from the six-yard line, SLU junior David Fields and freshman Josh Carr stopped West just short of the goal line. On the ensuing fourth down play, Clavelle dropped Eppler short of the end zone to keep the lead at 24-3 with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

Southeastern’s next drive took the game into the fourth quarter, but ultimately resulted in a punt. Northwestern State finally found the end zone on its next possession. Aided by two SLU personal fouls, NSU covered 67 yards on seven plays. Eppler found senior Jalen Watson on a quick slant from 11 yards out to cut the SLU lead to 24-10 with 11:18 left.

After SLU went three-and-out, it appeared the Demons were poised to pull even closer, but the Lion defense had other ideas. West fumbled at the SLU two-yard line and Russell was right there to pounce on the loose ball and end the Northwestern State threat.

However, with the Lions backed up, the NSU defense came up with a big play of its own. Demon junior Quindarrius Whitley stripped Virgil on a sack and junior Blake Stephenson recovered the fumble in the end zone to cut the Southeastern advantage to 24-17 with 5:34 left.

Another Lion three-and-out gave NSU the ball back with just under four minutes left. On the second play of the Demon drive, Lewis stripped NSU freshman Levar Gumms and Spann fell on the loose ball at the Northwestern State 42-yard line.

While Southeastern couldn’t add to its lead, the Lion offense managed to milk nearly three minutes off the clock and deplete Northwestern State’s timeout supply before junior Ivy Wall punted the ball back to the Demons with under a minute remaining.

Northwestern State made the final minute interesting, as a 42-yard catch by Ferguson set the Demons up in Lion territory. However, sacks by Adeyemi-Berglund and Russell helped SLU secure the win and improve to 33-29 all-time versus NSU.

Southeastern will be back in action next Saturday, traveling to league-leading Incarnate Word for a 4 p.m. league contest in San Antonio, Texas. A live video stream, provided by UIW, will be accessible on the football schedule page at www.LionSports.net.

Fans will also be able to hear the Lions-Cardinals tilt on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU-FM (90.9), Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and WFPR 1400 AM). Fans can also listen live at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX, TuneIn Radio and Lions Gameday Experience apps.

NSU – 3 0 0 14 – 17 (2-2, 1-1 SLC)

SLU – 7 14 3 0 – 24 (2-3, 2-1 SLC)

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter
SLU – A. Mitchell 76 pass from Virgil (Tatum kick), 14:25
NSU – Fendrick 36 FG, 8:54

2nd Quarter
SLU – Turner 8 pass from Virgil (Tatum kick), 13:05
SLU – Nunez 1 run (Tatum kick), 2:29
3rd Quarter
SLU – Tatum 24 FG, 10:53

4th Quarter
NSU – Watson 11 pass from Eppler (Fendrick kick), 11:18

NSU – Stephenson 0 fumble return (Fendrick kick), 5:34

                                                                            NSU       SLU

FIRST DOWNS                                                 28           15
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)                                  41-165    31-54

PASSING YDS (NET)                                       325         316

Passes Att-Comp-Int                                          53-34-0   28-19-1

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS                94-490    59-370

Fumble Returns-Yards                                        1-3          0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards                                       4-86        3-35

Punt Returns-Yards                                             1-8          1-42

Interception Returns-Yards                                 1-9          0-0

Punts (Number-Avg)                                           4-42.5     5-37.2

Fumbles-Lost                                                      5-2          2-2

Penalties-Yards                                                   11-100    7-75

Possession Time.                                                 34:50      25:10

Third-Down Conversions                                    8-of-21   5-of-13

Fourth-Down Conversions                                  4-of-6     1-of-1

Red Zone Scores-Chances                                  2-6          3-3

RUSHING: NSU – West 22-137, Anderson 3-23, Eppler 12-19, Smith 2-11, Holgorsen 2-(-25). Totals 41-165. SLU – D. Johnson 7-22, D. Williams 6-17, Nunez 9-17, T. Jones 2-5, Turner 1-4, Team 1-(-1), Virgil 5-(-10). Totals 31-54.

PASSING: NSU – Eppler 25-40-0-268-1, Holgorsen 9-13-0-57-0. Totals 34-53-0-325-1. SLU – Virgil 19-28-1-316-2. Totals 19-28-1-316-2.

RECEIVING: NSU – Ferguson 6-117, Chapman 6-67, Shorts 6-29, Watson 4-24, West 3-21, Meggs 3-12, Anderson 3-7, Gumms 2-45, Baliff 1-3. Totals 34-325. SLU – Mitchell 5-182, Jackson 3-46, Petit-Frere 3-27, Nunez 2-21, D. Johnson 2-16, Schwebel 2-13, Turner 1-8, D. Williams 1-3. Totals 19-316.

A – 5,118.


For individual game tickets, please contact the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net/tickets. The Lions’ remaining home schedule includes visits from foes Houston Baptist (Oct. 13 – Homecoming), Abilene Christian (Oct. 20 – Hall of Fame Game) and McNeese (Nov. 3).


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, visitwww.LionSports.net/clear.


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.

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


Inside Southeastern Football with Frank Scelfo, the Lion first-year head coach’s radio show, is held every Monday through Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at Tope La Catering (113 East Thomas Street) in downtown Hammond.

Hosted by Scelfo and Allen Waddell, the show will air on the Southeastern Sports Radio Network (KSLU-FM (90.9), Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and WFPR 1400 AM). Fans can also listen live at www.LionSports.net/listenlive and via the Radio FX, TuneIn Radio and Lions Gameday Experience apps. A live video stream of the show will be available via Facebook Watch at www.facebook.com/sluathletics.


Kemmler Chapple
Southeastern Louisiana University
Assistant AD for Sports Information

About Andy Bryson 723 Articles
Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach