Sept. 29, 2012
BEAUMONT - Southeastern Louisiana used a balanced offensive attack, and took advantage of four Ryan Mossakowski interceptions Saturday afternoon at Provost Umphrey Stadium, to hand Lamar University a 31-21 defeat in the Cardinals' Southland Conference football opener.
The Lions (2-3) finished with a season-high 165 rushing yards and passed for another 203 to move to 2-0 in Southland play. Lamar's offense would manage just 244 total yards in losing for the first time this season at Provost Umphrey Stadium.
"We competed," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "We played hard. There were some encouraging things, but we let one get away where we had a chance. I don't want to take anything away from Southeastern Louisiana because they played well, and they definitely played better than we did in the second half."
After trailing 17-7 early in the third quarter, Lamar (2-3) got within three points on tight end Payden McVey's second touchdown catch of the game with 7:40 to play in the third. The LU defense then forced a SLU punt that gave the Cardinals the ball at their own 23-yard line.
Lamar couldn't move the ball and brought in Kollin Kahler to punt. The junior boomed a 48-yarder that SLU's Robert Alford fielded at his own 25-yard line. Alford broke to his left and raced up the sideline for a 75-yard score to give the Lions a 24-14 lead with 5:27 to play in the third.
"I liked where we were at halftime," said Woodard. "I liked where we were in the third quarter. The punt return was huge, and from then on, we just didn't do enough. Hats off to them. They did more right from the middle of the third quarter to the end of the game than we did."
The Cardinals struggled to recover from the momentum change and SLU would extend its lead to 31-14 early in the fourth quarter on a Blaine LeBlanc 3-yard pass from quarterback Nathan Stanley. The Ole Miss transfer would finish 15-for-28 for 187 passing yards for the Lions.
Lamar's Tyrus McGlothen gave the Cardinals a glimmer of hope midway through the fourth quarter as he picked off a Stanley pass and ran it back 96 yards for a touchdown. The play, which was the longest interception return in school history, pulled the Cardinals to within 10 points but that's as close as they would get.
SLU jumped out on top with 8:54 left in the first quarter for the first points Lamar's defense had allowed at home this season. The Cardinals had shut out both Prairie View A&M and Langston before giving up the 31 points Saturday.
The Lions' Michael Chaney dove over the line from two yards out to give SLU the 7-0 lead. Chaney, who would leave the game with an injury in the fourth quarter, added his second rushing touchdown of the day just 1:16 into the second quarter.
After starting from its own 49-yard line, SLU drove down and faced a third-and-one from the 4-yard line. Chaney, who finished with 48 yards on 18 carries, took it over from there to put the Lions on top 14-0.
Lamar responded right away as wide receiver Kevin Johnson gave the Cardinals good field position with a 39-yard kickoff return from his own end zone. The big play on the 8-play, 61-yard drive was a 25-yard pass to Herschel Sims.
After a pair of Sims' rushes took it down to the 8-yard line, Mossakowski found McVey for his first score of the game to make it 14-7.
Lamar had a chance to cut into the lead right before the half as Mike Venson returned a Beau Mothe punt 16 yards down to the SLU 27-yard line. However, on first-and-10, Mossakowski threw to the end zone and was intercepted by Denzel Thompson to close the half.
Mossakowski, who had only one interception on the year before Saturday, finished 20-of-35 for 168 yards and the two scoring strikes to McVey. The junior quarterback hit 10 different receivers in the game with Barry Ford and Reggie Begelton catching three each.
Sims would lead the Cardinals' ground game with 36 yards on 10 carries.
The Lions got a career-high 75 rushing yards from Xavier Roberson.
Lamar will continue Southland Conference play next week at Turpin Stadium when the Cardinals take on Northwestern State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.