Southeastern got big plays from a wide cast of characters Saturday on the way to a 26-16 Savage Storm victory over Southwestern at Paul Laird Field.
Three different Storm players scored touchdowns and Chris Peoples got the party started with a pair of first-quarter field goals. Other contributions came from Don Brown’s third-down conversions, two huge interceptions for Jacoby Sanders, 111 all-purpose yards from C.J. Kirk and two sacks for Derek Ogg.
Southeastern picked up its first Great American Conference victory of the season (1-4) and their third overall win, guaranteeing an improvement over the 2011 campaign when they went 2-8. At 3-4 so far, the Storm have three games remaining, starting with a trip this Saturday to Monticello, Ark. to take on UAM (1-6, 0-5 in GAC).
“This game was a confidence builder,” said Southeastern Coach Ray Richards. “This game is something we can build on. Two of the biggest plays of the game were those interceptions. We scored on that (late) drive and it pretty much put the game away.”
The Storm benefited from the return of receiver Anthony Foster from injury, and the impact was immediate. Foster caught a 41-yard pass from Jercolby Bradley for a first quarter touchdown which put the Storm ahead 13-6.
“Having him back was tremendous, and for him to make a big play like that, I’m happy for him,” Richards said.
The Bulldogs (1-6, 1-5 in GAC) tied the game twice but never led. After Peoples’ two field goals, Southwestern scored a TD and the kick failed to tie the game at 6-6 before Foster’s TD catch. The Bulldogs scored again early in the second, this time adding the point-after to tie the game at 13.
At that point the Storm offense sputtered but a big defensive stand kept the momentum in favor of Southeastern. Back in possession, Bradley connected to Keelen Green for a big run, which set up a 7-play 65 yard scoring drive on a Bradley pass to Krishon Daye for a 14-yard score. The point-after failed but Southeastern took a 19-13 lead into the locker room.
Just before halftime, Adrian Williams sacked the Southwestern QB for a loss and Sanders came up with his first INT of the game.
A frustrating third quarter still had its share of highs and lows for the Storm. Don Brown got be the Bulldog defense for a big crowd-pleasing gain. The drive ended fruitlessly but the defense denied Southwestern and the Storm got the ball back in short order.
Bradley was sacked deep in Storm territory on a sluggish drive, but he kept his composure and the ball on a couple of first-down plays. The drive barely crossed midfield before Southeastern had to punt, and the Bulldogs blocked the punt and recovered the ball on the Storm 30.
Southeastern’s D-line held ground and the “Dogs had to settle for a 44-yard field goal which got them dangerously close at 19-16 after three quarters.
The Storm had to punt again and Southwestern got into the red zone before the defense came alive. The final straw was a QB sack for Derek Ogg on third down. But the Storm offense was grounded again despite Brown’s third-down pushes and with six minutes to go, Southwestern got the ball trailing by only three points.
The Bulldogs started at their own nine yard line, but at 5:14 Sanders got the big INT and suddenly the Storm came alive again. With good field position and the clock running down, Southeastern got another strong push from Brown, Bradley and Ladarius Abrams, who all clawed their way to the 11 yard line.
At 1:35, Bradley darted through the defense for an 11-yard touchdown run, and Chris Peoples hit the point-after kick to put the Savage Storm ahead 26-16.
The Storm led Southwestern in rushing with 278 yards to 106, and in overall yardage 427 to 331. Bradley was 12-19 passing with 141 yards. Ogg and Jacobi Crowley led the D-line tacklers with seven apiece.