HAMMOND, La. — Redshirt senior quarterback Larry Brihm, Jr. passed for 354 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday evening, helping Bethune-Cookman defeat Southeastern Louisiana, 28-23 at Strawberry Stadium in a big non-conference collegiate football contest.
“This wasn’t an upset, but it was a certainly huge win,” said third-year BCU Head Coach Terry Sims afterwards when speaking to local media.
That’s exactly what the atmosphere appeared to be afterwards in and out of the Bethune-Cookman locker room.
Bethune-Cookman (1-1) opened the game scoring on its opening possession. Dating back to 2016, the opening possession score for the Wildcats was the fifth of its kind in the last six games.
Larry Brihm connected with Keavon Mitchell for 47 yards to put the Wildcats into scoring position early-on. The eight-play, 78-yard drive was capped off by Brihm connecting with senior receiver Anthony Cruz in the back of the end zone for the 7-0 lead.
Southeastern Louisiana (0-2), narrowly falling a week ago to Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent Louisiana-Lafayette, responded on its next possession, driving 74 yards in nine plays and taking just over four minutes off the clock to pull within 7-3 on the strength of a Dillon Burkhard 32-yard field goal.
On the ensuing possession, the Maroon and Gold offense marched down the field 88 yards in 5:06 off the clock, as Michael D. Jones raced into the end zone from four yards out to advance the BCU lead, 14-3 — following the extra point kick from Uriel Hernandez.
Following a pair of Burkhard field goals, Bethune-Cookman held a slim 14-9 lead at the half.
In the second half, SLU took its first lead of the game following a fumble by the Wildcats offense.
Sione Teuhema hit Brihm from behind the jar the ball loose, and it was the Lions’ Courtney Rutledge recovering to give the home standing Lions the ball at the BCU 27 yard line.
SLU wasted little time taking the lead when Eugene Bethea rushed three-straight times, eventually scoring on a seven yard scamper to put SLU up, 16-14.
Bethune-Cookman took the lead once again midway through the fourth quarter, 21-16.
After Brihm connected with Jawill Davis — finishing the night with seven receptions for 138 yards and a score, setup the Miami native’s score two plays later in the corner of the end zone.
However, the Lions responded in kind on the ensuing play when Juwan Petit-Frere took the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, putting SLU back up, 23-21.
After that, the visiting Wildcats used an 11-play, 72-yard drive that took 4:42 off the clock to find the end zone for the fourth time on the night — and the second time in the final stanza.
On the drive, Brihm finished 4-for-6 passing, while also rushing for 12 yards to extend the drive on fourth down once. The drive was capped off by Brihm’s one-yard plunge off-tackle that wound up being the decisive 28-23 final score.
The BCU defense, limiting the Lions to just 93 yards passing on the night, withstood a tough fourth-down penalty (following a potential turnover on downs), only to force another turnover on downs from the Lions, closing out the game and the road win.
Brihm finished the night with 354 yards passing on 25-of-39 passing. He would run for 25 yards and a score as well, also accounting for tw0 passing touchdowns. Michael D. Jones ran for a game-high 95 yards and a touchdown, while it was Davis hauling in a game-high seven catches for 138 yards.
The BCU defense was anchored by linebacker Alexander Morales with nine tackles, while Uriah Gilbert brought in seven tackles (including a tackle for loss). Three different Wildcats collected interceptions, as Trevor Merritt, Elliott Miller and Diquan Richardson forced Lions turnovers through the air.
Bethune-Cookman is back in action next weekend as the Cats travel to Boca Raton, Florida for the final non-conference regular season matchup of the 2017, taking on FBS opponent Florida Atlantic. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and will be carried nationally on television through beIN Sports.