Sept. 1, 2012
LAFAYETTE, La. - Playing against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team for the first time since reinstating football in 2010, Lamar University couldn't overcome four first half turnovers Saturday evening at Cajun Field in falling 40-0 to former conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette in the season opener.
The Ragin' Cajuns (1-0) converted Lamar's turnovers directly into 16 points as they scored all 40 points in the first half. Lamar (0-1), which will host Prairie View A&M Saturday at 7 p.m. from Provost Umphrey Stadium in the home opener, took better care of the ball in the second half but could not mount an offensive attack to cut into the UL lead.
"Hats off to Louisiana-Lafayette," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "They're a well-coached, talented football team and we knew what type of environment we were in. We didn't give ourselves a chance first half, especially first quarter. Offensively, turning the ball over like we did really hurt us. Defensively, we got our hands on two balls and if we could have picked those two balls off it might have been different."
UL, which is coming off a 9-4 record in 2011, scored on its first possession as Brett Baer connected on a career-long 52-yard field goal with 13:04 to play in the first quarter. The Cardinals held the Cajuns on three straight plays from the Lamar 32-yard line to force the field goal attempt.
"I think the first half, three times after turnovers we held them to three and out and then they kicked field goals," said Woodard about his team's defensive effort. "We did a lot more good things on the defensive side of the ball and it could have been a lot worse had the defense not played the way they did."
On Lamar's first drive, junior transfer quarterback Ryan Mossakowskiwas hit by Justin Hamilton at the Cards' 25-yard line for the first turnover of the game. UL recovered at Lamar's 29-yard line to begin its second drive.
Senior quarterback Blaine Gautier hit tight end Jacob Maxwell for a 2-yard scoring strike to cap the 29-yard drive and put the Cajuns ahead 10-0. Gautier, who passed for 2,958 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2011, finished the game with 142 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Lamar's second drive ended much like the first with transfer running back Herschel Simsgetting hit in the backfield and fumbling. The Cajuns recovered and began their third drive at the Lamar 25-yard line. Lamar allowed just two yards on three plays before Baer hit his second field goal of the quarter to make it a 13-0 game.
After forcing a Kollin Kahlerpunt, UL return man Javone Lawson ran it back 27 yards to the Lamar 28-yard line to set up another Cajun score. The Cajuns would take it to the 1-yard line as the first quarter came to a close.
On first and goal from the one, Alonzo Harris bulled his way in to the end zone to give the host team a 20-0 lead.
Another three and out set up a Kahler punt and the junior responded with a 53-yard blast that Lawson had to fair catch at his own 11-yard line. Gautier hit Jamal Robinson for an 86-yard hookup on first down, though, to put the Cajuns in business at the Lamar 3-yard line.
Effrem Reed, who led the Cajuns with 55 yards rushing on seven carries, scored from the 2-yard line to give the Cajuns a 27-0 lead with 11:24 to play in the half.
After kicking a third field goal with 9:38 to play that made it 30-0, Lamar started to put together a drive with redshirt sophomore Caleb Berry in a quarterback. Berry hit Michael Handyfor a 6-yard completion to get Lamar across midfield for the first time in the game at the UL 47-yard line.
On his next throw, Berry's pass bounced off receiver Kevin Johnson'shands into the waiting arms of Rodney Gillis who intercepted it and ran it back to the Lamar 46. Baer would hit his fourth field goal of the half five plays later to push the Cajuns ahead 33-0 with 4:43 to play in the half.
The final score of the game came with just 12 seconds on the first half clock as Gautier hit Lawson for a 2-yard score.
Lamar looked much better in the second half, holding the Cajuns to just 95 total yards of offense after intermission. The Cardinals were still held in check themselves as they would finish the game with just 194 total yards and 38 net rushing yards.
"I'm very proud of the way we came out in the second half and talked," said Woodard. "I thought we did enough things in the second half to go home and build on, but overall we were very inconsistent and I'm not very happy with how we played in the first half."
Mossakowski finished his first game for Lamar by completing 12-of-19 passes for 81 yards. Berry was 6-of-10 for 75 yards and the one interception.
Sims would finish with 42 net yards on 14 carries, while DePauldrick Garrettrushed for 35 yards on seven carries in his first game back after missing a season with a shoulder surgery.
Defensive back Chad Allen led all players with nine tackles, adding a fumble recovery early in the second half for the Cajuns' only turnover of the game. Junior defensive end Jesse Dicksonadded seven tackles with two going for loss.