BEAUMONT, TEXAS (September 18, 2011) Lamar University scored 42 points through three quarters Saturday night to seize a 22-point lead then held off a spirited University of Incarnated Word rally to post a 45-35 victory before a crowd of 15,367 in Provost Umphrey Stadium.
In improving to 2-1 on the season, Lamar rolled up 469 yards of total offense, but the host Cardinals allowed UIW to score two touchdowns in a span of 48 seconds early in the fourth quarter.
That spurt pulled the visiting Cardinals to within 42-35, but the host Cardinals put it away with a 31-yard Justin Stout field goal which was followed a few moments later by a clutch interception by linebacker Jacody Coleman.
“It was a very strange game,” said Ray Woodard, Lamar’s head coach. “In the first half, we did some good things offensively (to build a 35-20 lead), but we had trouble stopping the run defensively.
“We made some adjustments defensively at halftime, and they helped. We didn’t stop the running game in the second half, but we definitely slowed it down.”
After allowing UIW tailback Trent Rios to rush for 94 first-half yards, the host Cardinals limited him to 26 yards in the second half.
Meanwhile, Mike Venson, getting his most extended playing time of the season, rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown for the host Cardinals, and senior quarterback Andre Bevil passed for a season-high 226 yards and two touchdowns.
Redshirt freshman Jeremy Johnson spelled Bevil on a few possessions and ran for 47 yards on six carries and completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior split end J.J. Hayes, who had four receptions for a season-high 96 yards.
“We cut down on the mistakes we had been making in our first two games, and we cut down on our penalties (the Cardinals had only six infractions after averaging 12.0 in their first two outings). The game got strange in the fourth quarter when they (the visiting Cardinals) cut it to seven points.
“I called the defensive guys together and told them they were going to step up a start making some plays. The defense played better coming down the stretch.
“Obviously, we still have things that need correcting, and we still have a long way to go. The good thing is we have two weeks before we play our next game, so that will give us extra time to put in a few new wrinkles and get ready for Southeastern Louisiana.”
Bevil completed 14 of 19 passes, including touchdown strikes of 10 yards to Hayes and 25 yards to sophomore Kye Hildreth. Lamar’s other touchdowns came on runs of 21 yards by DePauldrick Garrett and 9 yards by Venson.
Bevil and Hayes combined on a 35-yard pass on the game’s first offensive play, and the host Cardinals moved briskly to a touchdown, going 65 yards on seven plays. Bevil scrambled for a 19-yard gain on a third-and-11 play from the UIW 31-yard line, and he found Hayes open in the back right corner of the south end zone for the final 10 yards on a third-and-eight play.
Devin Haywood’s 52-yard return on the ensuing kickoff gave the visiting Cardinals excellent field position at the Lamar 45-yard line, and they scored the tying touchdown on Rios’ 3-yard run off right tackle with 9:17 left in the first quarter.
The scoring parade continued as Lamar answered with a three-play, 64-yard that lasted only 1:02. Bevil hit Garrett on a screen pass for a 30-yard gain to ignite it, and Garrett completed it with his 21-yard run around left end with 8:09 left in the first quarter.
Not to be outdone, UIW responded with a six-play, 60-yard scoring drive highlighted by a 34-yard run up the middle by Rios. It reached the 4-yard line, and quarterback Paden Lynch scored on a 2-yard sneak two players later. Despite his team receiving an illegal procedure penalty, Thomas Rebold kicked the tying extra point from the 15-yard line, making it 14-14 with 6:24 left in the first quarter.
Johnson started Lamar’s third possession at quarterback and eventually threw the 7-yard pass to Hayes in the left corner of the end zone to put the home Cardinals up 21-14 with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter.
Lamar’s defense came up with a stop on UIW’s third possession, and the visiting Cardinals did the same on Lamar’s fourth as the first period ended on Kollin Kahler’s 42-yard punt. .
Lamar finished the first quarter with 198 total yards (103 rushing and 95 passing, while UIW had 119.yards (51 rushing and 68 passing).
Following a Johnson fumble early in the second quarter, UIW put together a 10-play, 56-yard drive to move to within 21-20 on Rios’ 3-yard run off left tackle with 7:05 left in the half. Cornerback Keinon Peterson blocked Rebold’s conversion attempt to leave the home Cardinals with the one-point edge.
They then extended the lead to 28-20 with a three-play, 62-yard drive sparked by a 44-yard hookup over the middle from Bevil to Hayes. A 9-yard Bevil pass to tight end Payden McVey gained the 9-yard line, and Venson broke off left tackle for the touchdown on the next play.
The home Cardinals gained separation with an eight-play, 61-yard drive capped by Bevil’s 25-yard pass to Hildreth over the middle with 11.6 seconds remaining before halftime. Stout’s fifth conversion made it 35-20 Lamar.
Lamar gained 340 of its yards in the first half with 209 coming through the air. Bevil went 9-for-12 for 189 yards and two TDs in the first half, while Rios rushed for 94 first-half yards on 17 carries for UIW.
Johnson was at the controls on Lamar’s lone third-quarter scoring drive. It covered 81 yards and ended on Logan’s 6-yard run up the middle with 5:13 remaining in the period.
Incarnate Word made it close by scoring twice in the 48-second span early in the fourth quarter. Lynch’s 1-yard sneak ended an 81-yard drive with 12:57 left, and Rebold’s two-point conversion run reduced Lamar’s lead TO 42-28.
Then UIW recovered Devion Wolford’s fumble at the 6-yard line on the ensuing kickoff, and two plays later Lynch sneaked in for the touchdown that made it 42-35 with 12:09 left.
The Cardinals will observe their open date next week then travel to Hammond, La. on Oct. 1 to take on Southeastern Louisiana in their 2011 Southland Conference opener at 3 p.m.