Oct. 22, 2011
BEAUMONT - After playing turnover-free football in the first half Saturday afternoon, Lamar University's football team committed two costly giveaways and had a couple of letdowns in their kicking game in the second half of a 38-24 loss to the University of Central Arkansas.
With the Cardinals trailing by seven points, quarterback Andre Bevil threw an interception that strong safety Jestin Love returned 31 yards for the game's final touchdown, and split end J.J. Hayes lost a late-game fumble that enabled the Bears to seal their fourth-straight victory.
Also, the Cardinals failed to execute a fake punt play, giving the Bears excellent field position for their 32-yard drive to snap the game's 17-17 halftime tie, and kicker Justin Stout had a 32-yard field goal attempt blocked early in the third quarter.
"We did some very good things today, but we also did some pretty dumb things," said Ray Woodard, Lamar's head coach. "When you play in a close game like this one was, it usually comes down to four or five plays. We had four or five really bad plays today."
The homecoming crowd of 15,367 in Provost Umphrey Stadium saw Bevil and backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson combine for 332 yards of total offense and account for three touchdowns. Bevil completed 23 of 29 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, and Johnson raced 55 yards for the touchdown that pulled the Cardinals into a 24-24 tie at the 6:00 mark of the third quarter.
Bevil's scoring tosses covered 13 yards to tight end Payden McVey and 9 yards to slot receiver Marcus Jackson. The Cardinals' other points came on Stout's 18-yard field goal in the second quarter.
"We did a lot of good things out there, but we didn't do enough good things," said Woodard. "I was really pleased with our play in the first half until that one play when their guy (running back Terence Bobo) took the pass all of the way down the sideline (51 yards for the touchdown to force the 17-17 tie). We didn't defend that play well at all.
"You have to take into account that we played a very good football team today. That team beat McNeese State last week. We're going to have to push ourselves and do the right things to win some of these close games.
"I'm down and I'm disappointed, but I'm also very proud of this football team. I promise you we will be a much improved team when we go to Huntsville next week (to play sixth-ranked Sam Houston State)."
In improving to 5-3 on the season and 4-1 in the Southland Conference, the Bears received a 13-for-22, 187-yard passing performance from senior quarterback Nathan Dick and a 67-yard rushing effort from Bobo. In addition to the 51-yard touchdown pass to Bobo, Dick completed scoring tosses of 12 yards to Jesse Grandy and 35 yards to Al Lasker.
The Bears' other scores came on a 1-yard dive by running back Jackie Hinton and a 28-yard field goal by Eddie Camara.
The loss was Lamar's third in a row, and it dropped the Cardinals to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in the conference.
By blending six running plays with six passes, Bevil skillfully directed the Cardinals 80 yards into the blustery south wind for the game's first score after Lamar received the opening kickoff.
Bevil completed passes of 19, 8 and 13 yards to McVey on the drive with the final accounting for the payoff. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound freshman from Deer Park deftly sidestepped one Bear defender inside the 10-yard line as he made his way down the right side of the field.
On UCA's first offensive possession, Marcus Malbrough deflected a Dick pass, and fellow defensive end Blake Chavis intercepted it to set up the Cardinals' 59-yard, 11-play drive to their second touchdown.
A Bevil-to-Josh Powdrill pass for 16 yards netted a first down at the Bear 32-yard line, and an eventual Bevil run of 10 yards helped move the ball to the 9-yard line. On third down from there, Bevil evaded a strong Bear pass rush and threw on the run to Jackson in right back corner of the end zone for the touchdown that made it Lamar 14, UCA 0 with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
The Bears followed that score with an eight-play, 59-yard drive for their first touchdown, and Dick kept it alive with a 7-yard run on a quarterback draw on a fourth-and-four situation. On the second play of the second quarter, Hinton dived off left tackle for the final yard, and Camara's conversion reduced the Cardinals' lead to 14-7.
Bevil completed first-down passes of 10 yards to Jackson, 11 yards to Billy Chavis and 36-yards to Hayes to highlight an 88-yard, 11-play drive on the Cardinals' third possession of the game. The Bear defense stiffened, however, forcing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to set up Stout's 18-yard field goal to make it 17-7.
The Bears matched that score with a 12-play, 69-yard drive to Camera's 28-yard field goal. A pass breakup by strong safety Tim Hayter in the end zone on third down forced the field goal.
After forcing a Lamar punt, it took the Bears only one play and 12 seconds to score the tying touchdown. Dick hit Bobo just inside the left sideline near mid-field, and he tight-roped it most of the way before cutting back to his right to elude Cardinal cornerback Adrian Guillory en route to the 51-yard score.
Camera's conversion with 1:37 left made the halftime score 17-17.
Bevil completed 17 of his first 18 passes and finished the half 19-for23 for 198 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. Dick's numbers at the halfway point were 6-for-9 for 111 yards and one TD, and he threw an interception to Blake Chavis.
The Cardinals will return to the road next Saturday to play Sam Houston State in Huntsville's 14,000-seat Bowers Stadium.