DURANT, Okla. – No. 23 Southeastern explodes for 24 fourth-quarter points to propel itself to a 31-24 Homecoming victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon at Paul Laird Field.
The win keeps the Savage Storm undefeated at 6-0 heading into a home matchup with Henderson State on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. at Paul Laird Field.
The win is also the fourth-straight Homecoming victory for the Storm.
"We weren't prepared coming out today," said head coach Bo Atterberry about the first half, "And that was on me. I expect that from them, but they expect that from me. You don't get away with winning a game like we played the first half."
"For whatever reason," he continued "You see these games all across the country where two different teams keep battling with their defense and offense, and it just comes down to the wire between Southwestern and us, and it is what it is."
"The guy walks up like three weeks into camp and said he wants to play," said Atterberry of Codey McElroy, "I didn't know anything about him, he had never played football, and he has done an exceptional job. To get to this point, in week six, for a guy who's never played to do that, is pretty impressive, I think."
"Skinner put the ball on the money, you know," said McElroy. "We had saved that play, we hadn't run it all game because we were hoping to get a situation where we could run it. The defense got into a position where we thought we could run it, and like I said, he put the ball on the money. He did all the work and he put it where I could catch it and luckily I was able to hang on to it."
"Not playing football since I was 13 years old," he said when asked about returning to the game of football, "But the thing that I try to talk to people about and what I try to remember is to live day by day and live in the moment. I'm done playing baseball, I'm done playing basketball, and I know these things can be gone in a heartbeat. So, I try and live in the moment and enjoy every second of it."
Austin Skinner got his first start under center after guiding SE's game-winning drive a week ago and finished the day 21-of-36 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
The Storm receivers were busy as 11 caught passes on the afternoon, led by Codey McElroy who hauled in four for 91 yards and a touchdown, while Drake White added three for 101 yards and a 63 yard score.
Rashod Polk led the SE rushing attack with 60 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown, while Skinner used his feet for 27 yards on six carries.
Hunter Powell led the defense with seven tackles, including one for a loss, while Luke Craddock added six stops.
Justin Young and Christian Banasiak each logged a sack, while Larry Bridges and Tre Hollins had interceptions.
Taylor got the Storm on the board by capping an eight play, 64 yard drive with a 10 yard touchdown run.
The lead was short lived though as SWOSU needed two plays to get in the end zone as Casey Freeman hit JR Omigie for a 38 yard strike, and the Bulldogs would take a lead after picking off a Storm pass and scoring two plays later when Freeman hit Cedric Cooper for 17 yards and a 14-7 lead with 2:19 to go in the first quarter.
Scoring let up for most of the second quarter, but the Storm would mount a drive to the Bulldog two yard line, but would miss a field goal and after trading fruitless drives SWOSU would take over with less than a minute to go in the half and take it to the SE eight yard line before Trent Dennis hit a 26 yard field goal to leave Southeastern in a 17-7 hole at the half.
Neither team could finish a drive in the third quarter, as the Storm punted on its one completed drive, while SWOSU would punt and miss a field goal try.
SE would take over with 3:59 to go in the third and finally break through early in the fourth quarter when Joel Carlos connected on a 30 yard field goal with 13:46 to play to close SE to within a score, trailing 17-10.
Southeastern forced a Bulldog punt on the next drive, but the up blocker backed into the line of the punt which ricocheted backwards for a minus-17 yard punt, setting the Storm up at the Bulldog 40 yard line.
Skinner would hit Drake White for a 34 yard connection on the first play of the next drive before Polk capitalized with a 6 yard TD score to knot the game at 17-17 with 11:02 to play.
Southeastern would get the ball back with 6:03 to play and use a 22 yard run by Skinner followed by a 22 yard toss from Skinner to McElroy to score and open up a 24-17 lead with 5:17 to play.
The Bulldogs would return the ball to the Storm 29 yard line on the ensuing kickoff, and the defense was stout for three plays but SWOSU would get a 28 yard Freeman to Jordan Jackson touchdown on fourth down to knot the game again at 24-24 with 4:07 to play.
After going three-and-out on its next drive the Storm defense was forced into facing off with SWOSU on fourth-and-14 in SE territory with 40 seconds to play and held to get the ball back at its own 37.
One play later Skinner would hit Drake white streaking down the home sideline for a 63 yard score with 25 seconds to play which put SE in front 31-24.
The Storm defense would turn in two more star plays, the first when Justin Young collected a six-yard sack of Freeman and the last coming to seal the game when Tre Hollins picked off a freeman pass at the 50 yard line, preserving the 31-24 win.