LAKELAND, Fla.—A long kickoff return set Warner up at the two yard line, and the Royals punched the ball into the end zone to lead Southeastern for the first time since 2016.
The Fire then rattled off the next 48 points of the day to come away with a 51-7 win over Warner, improving to 5-0 all-time against the fellow Polk County NAIA member.
Southeastern (4-3, 2-1 Mid-South Sun) kicked it into gear after giving up the long return and short score. On defense, the Fire limited Warner to just 12 first downs, and 191 total yards. Of the total yards gained by Warner (0-6), 65 came on the final drive of the game.
“Warner had a good game plan coming in, and hurt us early in the first quarter,” said Barefield. “I was proud of our defense and the adjustments they made, and the way they got after them. That was really the key; our defense knuckled down and didn’t give up any yardage.”
Tyrell Williams found paydirt twice in the second quarter on runs of four and one yards to put the Fire up 17-7. David Larson connected on a school-record 50-yard field goal just before halftime to put SEU up 20-7.
Larson also was responsible for the game’s first points on a 25-yard field goal, and also drilled a 43-yarder with 6:39 left in the third. Additionally, he averaged 43.5 yards per punt, and 60.5 yards per kickoff.
On the first drive of the third quarter, Ryder Litten found Marque Northington for a seven-yard scoring strike to complete an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ate up the first 3:57 of the third. Litten also connected on a 70-yard touchdown pass to Antwain Adams with 4:04 left in the third to give the Fire a 37-7 lead.
Litten finished with 179 yards passing and 102 rushing.
Bryan Bell scored on a nine-yard run with 10:19 left in the fourth.
With his right arm held by a defender, Evan Beal reached out with his left on a pass from Cooper Jones, and hauled in the one-handed grab for a score with 5:50 to play. Jones, like Litten, completed nine passes, and finished with 72 yards.
The Fire defense racked up seven tackles for loss, had two sacks, and recovered a pair of fumbles. Warner came into the game averaging 128 rushing yards per game, and were held to 95 at an average of less than three yards per carry.
Southeastern had 30 more offensive snaps, and totaled 558 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per play.
“Our execution was much better and we didn’t have any turnovers,” said Barefield. “When you can eliminate turnovers, keep mistakes to a minimum, and you can execute, you have a chance to win ball games, and today, put up some big numbers.”
Lamont Trent was at the top of the tackle chart with 6.5, and had 1.5 for loss, and a sack. Jimiah Albritton added five stops with a fumble recovery, and Tyson Kee had four tackles.
The Fire return to action on October 27 to host Edward Waters for Homecoming at 7 p.m.