Aug. 31, 2014
BEAUMONT, Texas -
Senior quarterback Caleb Berry
became the school's all-time leader in touchdown passes with his third scoring strike against Grambling State (0-1) Saturday night. The touchdown pass to junior Devonn Brown
would be all the points Lamar would need as it held off an improved Grambling State team, 42-27.
"You could tell it was the first game of the season," said head coach Ray Woodard. "Give credit to Coach (Broderick) Fobbs and his staff. They were ready to play and really fought hard, like we knew they would. The first half was very frustrating because we left so many points on the field, but we went into the locker room and talked about what they were trying to do. Grambling was really challenging us defensively trying to take away our running game and short passing game. We made some good adjustments at halftime and were able to overcome our mistakes.
"We played a very good third quarter as a team. I thought Grambling did a great job fighting back in the fourth quarter. We're happy to get the win but there are some things we have to get corrected," added Woodard.
The game was just as sloppy as the weather, at times, as Mother Nature had an impact on the game's outcome. The two teams combined for 10 turnovers and 26 penalties, but the Cardinals overcame their share of miscues to record their second-straight win a season opener.
The Cardinals struck first when Berry completed the first of his five TD passes to classmate Mark Roberts. The Houston transfer caught the pass and outran the safety for a 69-yard scoring strike on the first play of the game, but the Tigers answered back exactly two minutes later with touchdown of their own. GSU added a 41-yard field goal early in the second-quarter to take their first, and only, lead of the game. The lead would last for eight and a half minutes before the Cardinals could respond.
Lamar's response would come in the form of sophomore running back Kade Harrington
who scored on an eight-yard run. Harrington, who finished the game with 65 yards on 15 carries, gave the Cardinals a four-point lead, and it was a lead LU would not surrender. The visitors trimmed that lead down to a point right before halftime but that would be as close as the red and white would allow them to come to victory.
Lamar came out of the locker room and scored 28 unanswered points to build an insurmountable 42-13 advantage with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter. Four different Lamar players got in on the scoring act in the third, including Brown who caught Berry's record-setting TD pass from five yards out. Roberts tacked on another long reception with a 43-yard grab and Port Neches junior Jayce Nelson hauled in 45-yard touchdown pass on the first play of a drive.
The Tigers closed out the game by tacking on two scores late in the contest, but it was a case of too little too late.
Berry finished the night 27-of-45 for 389 yards and five touchdowns. He connected with seven different receivers, including junior Reggie Begelton who picked up where he left off last season. The Beaumont native led the Southland in receptions last year, and starts 2014 with 12 catches for 119 yards. Begelton's 12 catches tied for the fourth-best mark in school history.
Roberts only had three catches on the night but he made the most of every grab, finishing the night with 139 yards and two touchdown catches.
Lamar's youthful defense was led by Ronnie Jones who posted a career-high 12 tackles. He was also credited with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Sophomore Xavier Bethany finished the night with 11 tackles, including 2.5 for losses and one sack. He also picked off a pass and forced a fumble.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday when the travel to College Station, Texas to take on Texas A&M. The game against the Aggies is slated to kick off at 6:30 p.m. from Kyle Field.