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Bennett rallies Southeastern Louisiana to playoff win

Hammond, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Bryan Bennett's 1-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Smiley with 36 seconds left lifted Southeastern Louisiana past Sam Houston State, 30-29, in the second round of the FCS playoffs Saturday night.

After winning their first-ever FCS playoff game, the sixth-seeded Lions (11-2) will host New Hampshire (9-4) in a national quarterfinal next Saturday.

The second-round game was a meeting of two Southland Conference programs, and, just like the regular season, SELU won at home. But the result couldn't just be explained in the fact the conference champions are 7-0 at home this season and Sam Houston finished the year 0-5 on the road.

That's because Sam Houston (9-5), which had reached the last two national championship games, had a chance to run out the clock late in the fourth quarter and pull an upset. But SELU forced a punt and took possession of the ball down with 1:29 left, still needing to go 85 yards for a touchdown with a 29-24 deficit.

Bennett, the Southland player of the year, completed six passes on the quick- strike, six-play drive. A 25-yard completion to Marquis Fruge' at the Sam Houston 1 set up the TD pass to a wide-open Smiley on the ensuing play.

A two-point conversion failed, but the SELU defense held off a final Sam Houston possession.

Bennett, a transfer from the University of Oregon, completed 19-of-33 pass attempts for 286 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He also rushed for 83 yards and his 15th touchdown on 19 carries.

Sam Houston jumped to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter, getting one of its touchdowns on DeAntry Loche's 12-yard return of an interception thrown by Bennett.

But the Lions scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter, going ahead 24-21 on Bennett's 16-yard touchdown pass to Fruge' with 32 seconds left in the first half.

Sam Houston linebacker Eric Fielo sacked Bennett in the SELU end zone for a safety to pull the Bearkats within 24-23 midway through the third quarter.

The Bearkats then took the lead in the fourth quarter on quarterback Brian Bell's 2-yard keeper, which put them ahead 29-24 at the 10:58 mark.

The visitors had a balanced effort in gaining 287 yards on the ground. Timothy Flanders led the way with 82 yards on 21 carries, including his 15th touchdown of the season.

12/08 00:55:08 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 10
NOS 28
Final
ORL 98
WAS 105
Final
MIN 97
DET 91
Final
CLE 90
NYK 95
Final
DAL 120
UTA 102
Final
LAC 93
OKC 90
7:00pm Tonight
IND
MEM
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
CLE
8:30pm Tonight
MIL
PHI
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
POR
10:00pm Tonight
PHO
SAN
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
LAC
Final
LOU 31
FSU 42
Final
GASO 42
TROY 10
8:00pm Tonight
TULA
CIN
8:02pm Tonight
MEM
TULSA
Final
BUF 2
BOS 3
Final
PIT 3
LOS 0
Final
NJD 2
WIN 1
Final
FLA 2
ARI 1
Final
OTT 4
CHI 5
Final
TAM 4
PHI 3
Final
STL 2
ANA 0
Final
MIN 4
SJS 3
Final
COL 5
NYI 0
Final
VAN 3
MON 2
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
TOR
7:30pm Tonight
DET
LOS
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
ANA
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
NAS
Final
CAR 10
NOS 28