BEAUMONT - Lamar University used a balanced offensive attack, and a stifling defense, to roll to a home-opening 31-0 non-conference football victory over Prairie View A&M on Saturday night at Provost Umphrey Stadium.
A week after being shut out by Louisiana-Lafayette, Lamar (1-1) showed it has the ability to be an explosive offense. The Cardinals scored touchdowns on their first three drives in building a 21-0 lead at the half and never allowed the Panthers (0-2) to get inside the red zone in posting the shutout.
"We needed that one," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "Coaches needed it. I needed it. Players needed it. Fans needed it. It's a good step. I thought we really improved as a team from getting off the bus in Lafayette to tonight. I thought the team handled it with a lot of maturity this week. We knew we had played a good team over in Lafayette, and we knew we didn't play our best. Tonight we didn't play perfect, but I'm very proud of the progress that we've made this week.
"They (Prairie View A&M) were a very good defensive ball club last year, and I think they got better as the game went on. Now, I don't think we hit on all cylinders in the second half, but Prairie View had a lot to do that. They came to play. They didn't lay down. It was a hard fought win."
Lamar's defense flexed its muscle right out of the gates, stopping PV running back Courtney Brown on 4th-and-1 from the Cardinals' 28-yard line as linebackers Ronnie Jones Jr. and Jestin Whitecombined on the tackle.
The Cardinals would then take over from there and sophomore running back Herschel Sims ripped off a 23-yard gain on first down to take Lamar over midfield. On 3rd-and-6 from the Prairie View 11, junior quarterback Ryan Mossakowski found wide receiver Kevin Johnsonfor the opening score of the game.
The two would hook up on the next drive, this time from eight yards out to put Lamar on top 14-0. Lamar benefitted from a running into the kicker penalty on fourth down that gave the Cardinals a fresh set of downs.
Prairie View was forced into a punt as the first quarter was coming to an end, and freshman linebacker David Hollyfieldbroke through to get a hand on the kick. Travis Jatzlau's punt would travel just 17 yards and Lamar would begin its third drive from the PV 41-yard line.
With DePauldrick Garrettdoing the bulk of the carrying on the drive, Lamar would face a 2nd-and-6 from the Panthers' 12-yard line. Johnson, who finished with three catches for 39 yards, would take a direct snap, break a couple of tackles and scamper into the end zone for the score that put Lamar ahead 21-0 with 12:37 to play in the first half.
Perhaps as impressive as the LU offense, was the job done by the Cardinals' defense. A week after putting up 500 total yards and 41 points, Prairie View A&M could manage only 249 yards against Lamar. The Panthers had just 84 rushing yards on 28 carries and quarterback Deauntre Smiley would be sacked four times as he finished with 165 passing yards.
Junior Brandon Thomas picked off wide receiver Spencer Nelson's pass attempt on a trick play to account for the only turnover of the game. Thomas, who added five tackles and a pass breakup, would return it 15 yards to the PV 46-yard line, but the Cardinals could not move it from there.
For the second straight week, junior defensive back Chad Allenled the Cardinals in tackles. The Coldspring High School product registered a career-high 11 in the game, including two for losses totaling five yards. Lamar would finish with 11 tackles for loss on the night.
Jesse Dickson, Mark Murrill, Hollyfield and White each recorded sacks in the game for the Cardinals.
Justin Stoutbooted a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter to put the Cardinals up 24-0 and Sims scored from four yards out with 5:29 to play in the game to close out the scoring. Sims' score closed out a 7-play, 74-yard drive that took just 3:27 off the clock.
The Cardinals would total 432 yards of total offense and finished with 36 minutes and 46 seconds of possession time. Mossakowski would complete 21-of-30 passes for 224 yards as he would hit nine different receivers in the game.
"I think he manages the game well and he had time to throw the ball around, and that helps a lot," said Woodard about Mossakowski. "We did spread the ball around a lot. That's part of what Coach Kueck does. You can't focus on one guy or one thing. He likes to spread it around and Ryan really had a good night."
Sims showed the ability that had him rated as a five-star recruit coming out of Abilene High School as he ran for 83 yards on 13 carries with the one score. Garrett added 79 yards on 16 carries as the Cardinals totaled 208 rushing yards on 48 carries.
Lamar will face its second Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team in two weeks when the Cardinals take on Hawaii this Saturday from Aloha Stadium. Game time is set for 11 p.m. CT.