CONWAY -- There was no comeback for the University of Central Arkansas in this game.
The Bears had overcome fourth-quarter deficits to win in four previous games this season, but junior reserve quarterback Cole Kelley accounted for 312 yards and five touchdowns to lead Southeastern Louisiana to a 34-0 victory over UCA at Estes Stadium on Saturday night.
Three first-half touchdown runs by Kelley, who took over for senior Chason Virgil midway through the first quarter, gave Southeastern Louisiana a 21-0 lead at halftime. His 6-yard touchdown pass to junior Javon Conner put the Lions ahead 27-0 midway through the third quarter, and his 1-yard touchdown sneak completed the scoring with 4:06 left in the game.
"Cole Kelley did a great job," UCA Coach Nathan Brown said. "He's a big guy, and a hard guy to get down, and I didn't think we did a good job with our pass rush. He had a lot of time, and that hurt us because he could stand back there and really survey the field as big as he is. We'll get better at that."
"This was about us," said Kelley, a 6-7, 260-pound transfer from the University of Arkansas. "That's no disrespect to UCA. They're a great team. I mean, look at their record and who they've beat. They're a very good team, and this is a hard place to play, but I think we're kind of finding our groove. We have some really good players on this team."
UCA (7-3, 5-2 Southland) was last shut out in 1995 in a 19-0 loss at Delta State. The last time the Bears were shut out at Estes Stadium was when they fell to East Central (Okla.) 17-0 in the 1986 season opener.
Southeastern Louisiana (6-3, 5-2) scored first on a drive aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called after sophomore linebacker C.J. Campbell engaged in a post-play tussle with a Southeastern Louisiana player. With the 5 yards gained on a keeper by Kelley, Southeastern Louisiana advanced from the UCA 25 to the 45.
Seven plays later, including a 20-yard pass from Kelley to senior Devonte Williams, Southeastern Louisiana took a 7-0 lead on Kelley's 9-yard run with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
UCA answered with a 15-play drive completed by junior Hayden Ray's miss of a 27-yard field-goal attempt.
Kelley led Southeastern Louisiana on touchdown drives on its next two possessions, completed by Kelley with a pair of 2-yard scores, the final one with two seconds left in the second quarter.
"He played really well," UCA sophomore quarterback Breylin Smith said of Kelley. "He controlled the game. He did what he was asked to do, and he made plays when his number was called."
"We need to use this as fuel or whatever we can get out of it," junior defensive end Nathan Grant. "We're just going to have to move forward and come out next week and show what we can show."
UCA did not cross back into Southeastern Louisiana territory until 9:32 remained in the fourth quarter. Southeastern Louisiana held UCA to 13 first downs and a season-low 261 yards.
Smith completed 17 0f 39 passes for 193 yards. He was intercepted three times.
"It's a credit to them," Smith said. "They had a great plan, and they took away what we do best. Sometimes that's what happens. Good teams will do that to you, but this is on me.
"When you score zero points, that's on the quarterback. When you throw three turnovers, that's on the quarterback."
With the loss, UCA dropped into a four-way tie for first place in the Southland Conference with two regular-season games left.
"We've earned a right to have a shot in these last two weeks," Brown said. "Our guys have got to respond, and like I told them, football is a humbling sport, and you have to be a grown man and move forward."
Kelley was one of two former quarterbacks for the Arkansas Razorbacks who led their teams to victory against in-state schools Saturday. Before UCA's game with Southeastern Louisiana, graduate transfer Ty Storey led Western Kentucky to a 45-19 victory over Arkansas in Fayetteville. Storey and Kelley both played for Arkansas last season.
"I'm happy for Ty Storey, man," Kelley said. "God knows, he deserves it. He has always worked his butt off."
UCA's top two available receivers, freshman Tyler Hudson and senior running back Carlos Blackman, had a combined three catches for 24 yards.
Brown credited Southeastern Louisiana defensive coordinator Lance Guidry.
"He took away big plays," Brown said. "He wasn't letting guys get behind him. He knew that's how we've had success on offense this year, with chunk plays. He did a good job on those, and we didn't respond very well in our game plan to have an answer for that."
SE Louisiana 7 14 6 7 -- 34
Central Arkansas 0 0 0 0 -- 0
SLU--Kelley 9 run (Broussard kick), 5:52
SLU--Kelley 2 run (Broussard kick), 11:56
SLU--Kelley 2 run (Broussard kick), :07
SLU--Connor 6 pass from Kelley (Broussard kick), 7:30
SLU--Kelley 1 run (Broussard kick), 10:12
First downs 26 13
Rushes-yards 46-153 21-68
Passing 337 193
Comp-Att-Int 28-35-1 17-39-3
Return Yards 21 77
Punts-Avg. 5-35.0 7-40.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 9-96 9-95
Time of Possession 38:08 21:52
RUSHING--SE Louisiana, Jones 16-69, Kelley 15-39, Williams 9-32, Conner 1-11, Mitchell 1-(minus 1), (Team) 3-(minus 3), Turner 1-(minus 5). Central Arkansas, Fernandez 3-34, Blackman 6-16, Richmond 1-7, Crossley 2-7, Smith 9-4.
PASSING--SE Louisiana, Kelley 20-24-1-273, Virgil 8-11-0-64. Central Arkansas, Smith 17-39-3-193.
RECEIVING--SE Louisiana, Williams 6-86, Schwebel 6-74, Conner 5-59, Mitchell 5-55, Williams 2-26, Magee 1-24, Turner 2-7, Nunez 1-6. Central Arkansas, Barnes 3-43, Blakey 4-42, Hudson 1-25, Crossley 2-22, Ross 1-17, Myers 2-16, Robinson 1-16, Hampton 1-13, Blackman 2-(minus 1).
Sports on 11/10/2019
Print Headline: Bears blanked for 1st time since '95