Oct. 6, 2012
NATCHITOCHES, La. - Lamar University had several opportunities Saturday evening at Turpin Stadium to come away with a road win, but four turnovers would cost the Cardinals in a 30-23 Southland Conference football loss to Northwestern State.
After trailing 17-7 at the half, the Cardinals twice pulled within three points in the third quarter. Lamar opened the second half with a 14-play, 80-yard drive to make it a 17-14 game with quarterback Caleb Berry hitting Kevin Johnson for a 27-yard scoring strike.
The Cardinals (2-4 overall, 0-2 in the Southland) converted a fourth-and-5 on the drive as punter Kollin Kahler scrambled 17 yards for a first down after fumbling the snap. Lamar then ran the ball on six straight plays before Berry hit Johnson for the score.
NSU, which improved to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in league play, answered with a 42-yard field goal from John Shaughnessy to regain a six point lead. However, the Demons' momentum was short lived as Johnson would return the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the NSU 40. A personal foul call on the Demons added 15 more yards and Lamar was in business from the NSU 25-yard line.
Berry, who was making his first career start for the Cardinals, looked for Johnson in the end zone on second-and-8. While the two couldn't connect, a pass interference call on NSU cornerback Ryan Sorrell set the Cards up with first-and-goal from the 8-yard line.
After failing to gain a yard on the first two plays, Berry was sacked on third down back to the 11-yard line. Justin Stout would come on to boot a 28-yard field goal and Lamar was once again within three points at 20-17 with 2:20 to play in the third quarter.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Lamar took over at its own 18-yard line with 11:25 to play in the game. Berry, who would finish 18-of-36 for 180 yards and two touchdowns, threw his lone interception to Rico Albert which gave the Demons first-and-10 from the Lamar 23.
Lamar's defense stiffened and NSU brought on Shaughnessy for a 36-yard field goal attempt. The Demons opted to run a fake kick and Shaughnessy looked like he would be able to run for the first. However, LU linebacker Jermaine Longino
, who led all players with 13 tackles, closed the gap and stopped Shaughnessy short of the first.
Lamar took over trailing 20-17 at its own 17-yard line. NSU defensive tackle Lesley Deamer sacked Berry for a loss of 15 yards and forced a fumble that he recovered to give the Demons the ball at the Lamar 5-yard line.
Running back Robert Walker, who ran for 103 yards on 23 carries, would take it over from the 3-yard line on second down to give the Demons a 27-17 lead with 6:46 to play in the game.
The Demons would increase their lead to 30-17 on a 20-yard field goal with three minutes to play in the game.
"We let that game get away," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "If we just have an average night offensively, we win this game by two touchdowns. We didn't finish the game and we didn't do what we needed to do offensively to win. It seems like we're putting ourselves in position, and we don't finish the deal. We just have to get better.
"That's three weeks in a row that we've wasted a great defensive effort. We're not getting it done on offense. Special teams really played well until the one return. Sometimes that's all it takes, but overall, they were great. We did improve tonight, but offensively we have to do a better job."
Berry would lead one final scoring drive to pull the Cardinals to within seven, but the Demons would recover Lamar's onside kick attempt with 36 seconds to play to seal the victory.
Lamar's final scoring drive covered 78 yards on 10 plays, but took just two minutes and 20 seconds as Berry found Jordan Edwards for an 8-yard touchdown. The duo would connect for three catches covering 43 yards on the drive.
NSU grabbed a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter as Shaughnessy hit a 41-yard field goal to open the scoring and receiver Phillip Harvey would score the first touchdown on a 26-yard run with 4:01 to play in the opening quarter. Harvey's score followed a VanLawrance Franks fumble, one of three fumbles Lamar lost in the game.
With the Demons driving again in the second quarter, LU defensive back Tyrus McGlothen would deliver a hit on NSU's Daniel Taylor which resulted in a fumble. LU linebacker James Washington scooped up the loose ball and returned it 62 yards for the Cards' first points.
NSU answered right back, however, as quarterback Brad Henderson found tight end Tucker Nims for a 4-yard score to cap an 8-play, 68 yard drive and close the first half scoring.
Lamar would finish the day with 285 yards of total offense and held the ball for just over 34 minutes. The Demons finished with 310 yards of offense with 206 coming on the ground. Lamar limited Henderson to just 11-of-24 passing for 104 yards which included an interception to safety Jordan Garrett.
In addition to his fumble return for a touchdown, Washington matched Chad Allen with nine tackles for Lamar. Joe Okafor, who got extended playing time after an injury to Jesse Dickson, had the Cardinals only sack of the game.
Herschel Sims led the Cardinals with 73 yards on 19 carries as Lamar finished with 105 rushing yards in the contest.