On Saturday, the HCU Huskies came to Hammond to face off with the SLU Lions. SLU entered the game as -28.5 point favorites, but HCU was able to pull off a thrilling victory to shock the world and bring some needed energy and excitement into the program.
HCU received the ball to begin the game, and was able to score on their opening drive, as former SLU and UL-Monroe quarterback Colby Suits connected with Darrion Sherfield on a 24-yard pass. HCU was able to move the ball downfield with their rushing attack, led by Champ Dozier. SLU responded with a touchdown of their own. Cyrus Zuell received the kickoff and was able to gain 37 yards, up to the 40 yard line, on a play he could’ve potentially scored on if not for HCU kicker Dillon Fedor, a transfer from Minot State, who recorded the tackle. Eli Sawyer started the game under center for the Lions, and completed a 26-yard pass to Da’Shun Hugley. Harlan Dixon also took a carry on the opening drive, which would surprisingly be his only carry during the first half. Zachary Clement came in for two plays, taking a carry for no gain, and a Bauer Sharp 12-yard jet sweep. Sawyer re-entered the game, and took off for the endzone, but fumbled at the 3-yardline. Luckily for SLU, Harlan Dixon was able to recover the ball in the endzone, recording the statistically-rare rushing touchdown without being credited with a carry. The PAT was blocked by HCU, so the score remained 7-6 after each team’s opening possessions.
HCU came out firing on all-cylinders on their second drive, with Suits finding Deuce McMillan for an 86-yard pass on the first play of the drive. McMillan caught the ball at his own 40 yardline and was able to outrun all SLU defenders to find paydirt. SLU took over on offense once again, and DeAndre Jackson saw action at running back. Jackson caught a pass and fumbled on the hit, delivered by Judas McKenzie, and the ball rolled out of bounds. Corey Lorio caught a couple passes for the first time in a few weeks, and Rodeo Graham Jr saw some work at running back. Sawyer ended up getting sacked later in the drive by Jalyx Hunt, but offensive lineman Jalen Bell was able to fall on top of the ball. Faced with 3rd and 27, the SLU offense was not able to convert and Austin Dunlap came in to punt.
HCU started the drive on a tipped ball that was caught for a big gain, before Anthony Britton Jr came in for a huge sack to back up the offense a play later. This defensive triumph was short-lived, though, as AJ Wilson caught a 40-yard bomb down the sideline on a free play. Dozier saw some carries in the redzone, and the SLU defense was able to bend but not break, giving up a field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
Sawyer started drive number 3 for the Lions and after throwing a near-interception on a shovel pass, he was able to connect with Darius Lewis and Jacob Logan on back-to-back first downs. Clement re-entered for one play, an incompletion which was also his only passing attempt on the night, and Sawyer came back in but took a sack from Hunt and Rodney Dansby, and the Lions punt unit came in, ultimately downing the punt at HCU’s 4-yard line.
Darryle Evans saw all the work during HCU’s fourth drive. Victor Tademy recorded a huge PBU, and HCU was forced to punt for the first time all night. Sawyer started the fourth SLU drive and found Lewis for a first down on play 1, but three plays later, the Lions special teams unit came back out for another punt.
On their next drive, HCU opened things with a 20-yard pass to Calvin Wiggins, and a facemask penalty on SLU extended the yardage. After a few plays with short gains, Suits was able to find Karl Reynolds in the endzone for a 25-yard touchdown. SLU took over and Sawyer got Lorio and Xavier Hill involved, before nearly throwing an interception to Caleb Flagg. Eventually, Sawyer found Jaylon Domingeaux for a 19-yard over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the endzone with just 17 seconds left in the half. The Huskies were able to get a hand on the point after, but it still went through the uprights. HCU did not return the kickoff and Suits kneeled once to send the game to halftime.
SLU received the ball to start the second half, and Clement trotted out to start the drive. He ran once for a minimal gain, before Sawyer re-entered and found Sharp on a screen, and then connected with Hugley for a toe-tapping catch on the sideline. Graham also received a couple of carries, but after another Rodney Dansby sack, Dunlap came in to punt. A nice bounce and no return allowed the ball to be downed at the 1-yardline.
Champ Dozier put the ball on the ground for HCU, and offensive lineman Nolan Hay was able to recover for the Huskies. Dozier left the game hurt, and Darryle Evans took over all halfback duties for the rest of the game. Reynolds made a nice toe-tapping sideline catch of his own, but after a failed screen on 3rd and 17 that saw HCU lose even more yards, Wheeler Bowron came in to punt.
Sawyer started the drive for the Lions and was almost immediately intercepted by Jaden King on a pass intended for Lorio, who would catch a fourteen-yard pass the play after. Sharp was blown up for a 4-yard loss on a jet sweep, but Sawyer was able to find a wide-open Jacob Logan for a 33-yard touchdown down the middle. Down 5, SLU elected to try and convert a two-point conversion, which failed on a pass attempt to Ivan Drobocky.
The next drive was a three-and-out for HCU. The ensuing SLU possession wasn’t much better, as theirs lasted only 4 plays before Dunlap punted. HCU took over and fed Evans, leading to a 37-yard breakaway carry. Suits was able to score on the possession on an impressive 21-yard run up the middle which saw him spin out of a tackle.
Sawyer started, once again, the drive at quarterback, and after handing the ball off to Dixon for just the second time all night, Clement came in and only handed the ball off to Dixon once before exiting. Sawyer was able to connect with Hugley on a diving catch before finding Xavier Hill for a 40-yard play. The Lions were unable to score on four straight plays in the redzone and turned the ball over.
Evans ran for a 50-yard carry on the next drive, but SLU held the Huskies to a field goal. Sawyer threw two incompletions and a six-yard pass to Lewis before throwing another incompletion on fourth down. After gaining one first down on an Evans carry, Suits kneeled and the game ended, with HCU taking their first-ever victory over SLU in program history buy a score of 34-19.
Colby Suits proved his doubters wrong, and flashed his potential, with a 16/27, 282 yard, and 3 touchdown night. On the other side, Sawyer went 25/41 with 331 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darryle Evans and Champ Dozier were wrecking balls tonight, with the former recording 173 yards on 21 carries, and the latter 73 yards on 18 carries. Rodeo Graham Jr led the Lions in attempted and yards, with 7 and 25, and leading rusher Harlan Dixon, who saw almost every carry a week ago, only was handed the ball 3 times and totaled 16 yards. Deuce McMillan led the Huskies in receiving yards, with 95 on two catches, and Darrion Sherfield and Karl Reynolds caught four passes each, with Sherfield going for 61 yards and Reynolds 44. Tight end Jacob Logan led the Lions with 76 receiving yards on four catches with a touchdown, and Darius Lewis led the team in catches with 5, paired alongside 48 yards. Other notable receiving statlines for the Lions are: Xavier Hill, with (4-63-0), Corey Lorio (3-48-0), Da’shun Hugley (3-45-0), and Jaylon Domingeaux (3-41-1). Rodney Dansby led the Huskies with 1.5 sacks, and multiple Lions recorded sacks of their own. Unfortunately, tackle statistics are not available.
After the game, Coach Scelfo mentioned that he and his staff were outcoached. He spoke about not being able to establish a rushing attack since they were playing behind by multiple possessions for most of the night, and forcing sawyer to constantly throw medium and deep passes led to some inconsistency. regarding defense, Coach Scelfo will be reviewing the tape and looking for scheme mismatches to be better prepared for next weeks game.
It was a tough day for the Lions, but a number of players performed well, and that first win should be coming soon. HCU won the yardage-battle, 549 to 360. Attendance at Strawberry Stadium was 3,694. Next week, SLU stays home for a matchup with Tarleton State. HCU returns home for a matchup with Lamar.