HARRISONBURG, Virginia – The Southeastern Louisiana University No.17 football playoffs ended in a 59-20 loss to third-seeded James Madison in the second round of the playoffs of the NCAA FCS Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium.
Southeastern won their fourth trip to the playoffs and finished the season with a 9-4 overall record. The Dukes (11-1) have qualified to face No. 6 seed Montana in the quarterfinals next weekend. The date and time will be announced for JMU’s battle with UM. The Lions made their third trip to the second round of the NCAA FCS playoffs. SLU’s nine wins are tied for the second-most in program history.
Southeastern couldn’t get past five turnovers in the loss, as James Madison scored 17 unanswered points in the 2.56 hours final of the first half to open the contest and increase the deficit to 21 straight points in the third quarter.
JMU quarterback Cole Johnson led Duke’s offensive offense, throwing for 321 yards and five touchdowns on 12 assists for 22, while rushing for a score.
In his last game as a Lion, Southeast quarterback and winner of the Walter Payton Award Cole kelley threw for 397 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions on 36 passes for 50. Kelley’s main targets were Austin mitchell (nine catches, 129 yards, one touchdown) and Brennon Dingle (6-88-1 DT).
Kelley’s last game closed one of the best statistical seasons in FCS history. The Lafayette, Louisiana native finished with 5,124 passing yards (second in FCS history) and 44 passing touchdowns (ninth in FCS history) of 406 for 552 assists. His single-season completion total sets a new FCS mark, surpassing the previous record set by Taylor Heineke for Old Dominion in 2012.
Kelley’s touchdown tally (44 assists, 16 rushing) gave him 60 for the year – one off the FCS record set by Willie Totten at Mississippi Valley State in 1984. His season-long offensive total of 5,615 yards was the third tallest in FCS history.
Mitchell’s 100+ yard performance was his school record 10e of her career. The program’s career leader in receiving yards (3,149) was second in school history with 27 touchdown receptions and 192 catches as a Lion. Mitchell’s 2021 totals for receiving yards (1,184, 2nd), receptions (78, 2nd) and receiving touchdowns (10, 3rd) were among the best totals in program history.
Playing his last game, Alexis ramos led SLU with seven tackles. Mike mason forced an escapee who Zy Alexandre recovered for the Lions. Garrett crawford, John Graves III and Herman Christophe all had bags for the Lions.
After forcing a three-and-out JMU, SLU drew the first blood. A 26-yard pass from Kelley to Mitchell highlighted an eight-play, 52-yard scoring drive that Mateo rengifo capped with a 26-yard field goal to put the Lions ahead, 3-0, with just under nine minutes left in the opening period.
The Dukes responded with a quick 75-yard drive that took five plays. Wells Jr. scored 22 yards on a short pass from Johnson to put JMU 7-3, with 7:00 left in the first quarter.
Less than a minute later, SLU found the end zone. Dingle ran under a 54-yard bomb from Kelley to put the Lions in the lead, 10-7, with 6:06 left in the opening period.
After both teams exchanged punts, JMU came back on top. Johnson found a wide-open Solomon Vanhorse in the seam and he scored without touching 63 yards to put the Dukes in place, 14-10, with just under two minutes to go.
After a punt from the southeast, the Dukes took the lead. Thornton ran on a 57-yard throw from Johnson to put James Madison, 21-10, ahead with 13:06 left in the first half.
SLU came closer with a methodical 14-play, 64-yard practice. Rengifo managed a 28-yard field goal to reduce the deficit to 21-13 with 4:34 left in the second quarter.
After Southeastern forced a punt, Kelley was sacked by Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey and fumbled with Kelvin Azanama recovering on the Lion’s 21-yard line. In the next game, Johnson found Wells Jr. for his fourth pass touchdown in the quarter to increase the Dukes’ advantage to 28-13 with 2:56 left in the first half.
In the next practice, Kelley was intercepted by Greg Ross and the Dukes took over at the SLU’s 35-yard line. In the play that followed, Johnson broke free for a 35-yard touchdown to put the Dukes ahead, 35-13, with 2:23 left in the second quarter.
After the score, Kelley was intercepted by Tucker-Dorsey to give the ball to the Dukes on the 22-yard southeast line. The Lion’s defense stiffened, but Ethan Ratke put in a 25-yard field goal to extend the JMU advantage to 38-13 with 33 seconds left in the first half.
In the opening practice of the second half, Tucker-Dorsey passed a pass from Kelley and returned the 43-yard interception for a touchdown to put James Madison ahead, 45-13, with 13. : 34 to be done in the third quarter.
JMU forced Southeastern to punt and then increased their lead. Johnson found Wells Jr. for his third score of the game – this one from 31 yards – to give the Dukes a 52-13 lead midway through the third quarter.
After another punt from the southeast, Thornton scored on a three-yard volley to give James Madison a 59-13 advantage with 3:57 left in the third quarter.
Southeastern entered the table for the first time in the second half at the start of the third quarter. Kelley found Mitchell eight yards to reduce the lead to 59-20 just over a minute into the fourth quarter. The touchdown set a new FCS school record in one season for Kelley’s achievements.
On the next trip, Mike mason stripped Austin Douglas and Zy Alexandre pounced on the loose ball at the Lion’s 48-yard line. However, the Lions were knocked down and neither team scored the remainder of the game.
For more information on tickets, contact the Southeastern Athletics box office at (985) 549-5466 or visit www.LionSports.net. Southeastern will continue to offer mobile ticketing as the primary source for obtaining tickets for the 2021-22 season. All tickets will be available via email or text in PDF format for fans to download to their phones or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded from Apple Wallet.
For more information on Southeastern football, follow @LionUpFootball and @Coach_Scelfo on Twitter, like / SLUathletics on Facebook, and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.
CLUB / S CLUB TOUCHDOWN
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the football program are encouraged to join the Touchdown Club. Former Lion football players are encouraged to join the exclusive Club S, which is reserved for South East athletics letter winners.
All Touchdown Club and S Club (football) membership fees and donations are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern Football Program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at [email protected] or (985) 549-5091 or by visiting www.LionUp.com.
TRANSPARENT BAG POLICY
Southeastern Athletics has instituted a clear bag policy for all paid events, effective at the start of the 2018 football season. For more information on the clear bag policy, visit www.LionSports.net/clear.