HAMMOND – Trailing the two-time defending national runner up 29-24 with 1:21 left on the clock, the ball on its own 15-yard line and no timeouts left, the Southeastern Louisiana football team was on the brink of having its season end at the hands of Southland Conference rival Sam Houston State in Saturday's NCAA Division I Football Championship second round contest in Strawberry Stadium.
Southeastern junior quarterback Bryan Bennett and coach Ron Roberts' Lions had other plans.
Bennett was a perfect 6-for-6 on an 85-yard game-winning drive that took just 49 seconds off the clock. Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Smiley hauled in a one-yard pass from the Southland Conference Player of the Year with 36 seconds remaining to provide the winning score.
The win was the 10th straight for the Southland champion and No. 4 national seed Lions (11-2), who are making their debut in the FCS playoffs. To advance to the quarterfinals, Southeastern had to outlast a veteran tested Bearkats team (9-5) that had advanced to the FCS National Championship game in Frisco, Texas, in each of the past two years.
The victory set up the Lions for another home playoff game next week. Southeastern will host the University of New Hampshire on Saturday at 6 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN3.