TLU safety James Bell was named the American Southwestn Conference Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after hauling in his ninth and 10th career interceptions and returning the first of those for a touchdown in Saturday's win over Louisiana College.
(Pineville, La.) - Texas Lutheran's James Bell returned an interception for a touchdown and then preserved a victory in the closing seconds with his second interception of the night as TLU defeated Louisiana College 41-36 Saturday evening.
At LC's Wildcat Stadium, Bell gave TLU the early lead with a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown at the 13:12 mark of the first quarter.
With the Wildcats driving for the potential game-winning score, Bell picked off Mason Jordan at the TLU 10 and returned the interception 50 yards to the LC 40. Bell made the play with 49 seconds remaining in the game. Bell had 105 yards in interception returns.
The picks were the ninth and 10th of Bells career, earning the sophomore safety American Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.
"Hats off to LC they played hard," said Carl Gustafson, TLU's second-year head coach. "They've got some great skill guys. They made some big plays. We inflicted a lot of wounds on ourselves. But to our guys credit, they hung in there, kept playing and made some big-time plays when we really needed them."
"James, he's a great player. And he just gets better every game he plays too. I'm so glad he is on our team. But we've got to feel great about the effort, feel great about our resolve and how we stuck to it. We could've really cratered there when they got on a scoring flurry, but our guys didn't. They didn't push the panic button. They pushed the reset button."
TLU led 24-9 in the second quarter and 27-16 at the half. LC rallied with three touchdowns in the third quarter and took leads of 29-27 and 36-34.
The Bulldogs scored the winning touchdown on a Kyle Grona three-yard run with 11:06 to play in the game.
TLU leaned heavily on junior running back Austin Mathews in the second half. Mathews finished the night with 171 yards on the ground. He had 136 yards in the second half.
Mathews scored a pair of touchdowns. He had a 20-yard scoring run in the second quarter and a 1-yard TD in the third.
The Bulldogs rushed for 294 yards. Chris Monroe also went over the century mark. He had 13 carries for 107 yards.
Mason Jordan threw five touchdowns for the Wildcats. JoJo Robinson had eight catches for 123 yards and made three TD grabs.
Drake Battaglia caught seven passes for 132 yards.
TLU's Manny Longoria recorded one sack and moved into the Bulldogs' DIII-era lead for career sacks. He now has 15.5.
Emory Cuzze led the Bulldogs with eight total tackles. DaKwa Davis had a pair of sacks (for 13 yards), and Ray Smith tallied seven tackles and a sack.
The Bulldogs return to Seguin next Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff against East Texas Baptist. TLU pre-game coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. on AM 1580 KWED and on tlubulldogs.com.