BEAUMONT - Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Johnsonscored four touchdowns to tie a school record Saturday evening at Provost Umphrey Stadium and lead Lamar University to a 52-21 homecoming victory over McMurry University in non-conference football action.
Johnson, who now has 11 touchdowns on the season, scored the first time he touched the ball. Following a 40-yard field goal by McMurry's Josh King on the opening drive of the game, Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 7-3 lead.
Lamar (3-4 overall) increased its lead to 10-3 after one quarter as junior Justin Stoutconnected on a 41-yard field goal with 2:36 on the clock. Stout's longest field goal since his freshman season capped a 12-play, 44-yard drive.
"We've beaten the teams that we're supposed to beat, now we have to go beat a couple that we're not supposed to beat," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "We did what we were supposed to do tonight. We were not as sharp as I would've liked. McMurry is a team that beat UTSA last year. They're very capable and well-coached. We had to work for it tonight, but we did what we needed to do.
"We didn't take them lightly. I thought we played hard and with intensity. It's very tough to remain intense in a game where you get up like that, but we continued to play. These are the type of games that we struggled with the first year, but we did what we were supposed to do tonight."
The War Hawks (3-3) had no answer for Johnson in the second quarter as the Oklahoma State transfer scored three receiving touchdowns in a game for the second time this season. Johnson is the fifth player in school history to catch three touchdowns in a game, and first to accomplish the feat twice.
Junior defensive back Brandon Thomas put the Cardinals in business early in the second quarter as he intercepted a Jake Mullin pass and returned it to the War Hawks' 13-yard line. After missing Johnson on first down, LU quarterback Caleb Berrywent right back to him on second for a 13-yard score.
Johnson's second receiving touchdown came with 4:07 to play in the first half on another 13-yard strike from Berry. His final touchdown came with just four seconds to play in the half on a 9-yard touchdown reception to give LU a 31-3 lead at intermission. The Cardinals went 48 yards in eight plays after holding the War Hawks on fourth-and-seven.
Berry, who was getting his second career start, finished 8-of-18 for 105 yards and one interception. Johnson caught five of his passes for 77 yards, while three other players had one catch each.
The news was not all good for the Cardinals Saturday night as leading rusher Herschel Simswent down with an apparent knee injury. Sims finished with 18 carries for 99 yards before going out during the first drive of the third quarter.
Junior running back DePauldrick Garrettproved to be an able backup as he came on to carry for 104 yards on just 10 carries. Included in his total was a 35-yard touchdowns with 7:02 to play in the third quarter that gave the Cardinals a 38-6 lead.
Garrett is the Cardinals' first 100-yard rusher since he went for 105 in Lamar's 2011 season opener against Texas College. It was also in that game that Garrett scored four touchdowns to set the standard that Johnson matched Saturday night.
Lamar would increase its lead to 45-6 on an 8-yard touchdown run by freshman Darrell Harriswith 1:02 to play in the third quarter. Harris ran for 48 yards on four carries and Richards added 34 more on four carries as the Cardinals rushed for a season-high 275 yards in the contest.
Thomas would provide the Cardinals' final points midway through the fourth quarter as he returned his second interception 53 yards for a touchdown.
Trailing 52-6, McMurry would add a pair of late touchdowns to close out the scoring. Chris Simpson scored on an 8-yard run with 3:19 to play in the game. The War Hawks then recovered an onside kick and took it down for a score with 29 seconds to play.
Backup quarterback Brady Lambert hit Barrett Cain from 18 yards out with 29 seconds to play to provide the final points. The War Hawks' two quarterbacks would combine for 317 yards on 62 pass attempts.
Despite giving up 369 total yards, Lamar's defense looked strong all night. The Cardinals registered a season-high five sacks and harassed the McMurry quarterbacks with seven hurries and seven pass breakups. Senior defensive lineman Adren Dorseyfinished with a sack and two and a half tackles for loss on the night.
"We were doing some good things on defense, but we got tired a bit," said Woordard. "I think they ran almost 100 plays. Defensively, and it's something we say almost every week, they're playing well, making plays and creating turnovers for our offense. They're really coming along."
Lamar will jump back into Southland Conference play next weekend when the Cardinals travel to Conway, Ark., to take on Central Arkansas.