Nov. 10, 2012
BEAUMONT - Kevin Johnson tied the Lamar single-season school record for touchdowns, and fellow receiver Barry Ford finished with nine catches for 111 yards and a score, as Lamar University closed out its home football schedule Saturday afternoon with a 34-24 Southland Conference victory over Nicholls.
The win improves the Cards' record to 4-7 on the year and is their first conference win against five losses. Lamar will close its 2012 season out next Saturday with a 7 p.m. contest at rival McNeese State. Nicholls fell to 1-8 overall and 0-6 in league play.
"I told the guys before the game that no matter what happened, I was going to be proud of them because they work hard every day," said LU head coach Ray Woodard. "They play hard. They've improved, and they've done it all year round. I'm tickled to death that it showed on the scoreboard.
"This team has played hard. This is the most enjoyable bunch that I've coached. They show up every day and do what we ask. They had the opportunity to quit tonight and feel bad for ourselves, but we didn't. It's a hard playing football team, and I'm proud of them every night."
Johnson gave Lamar a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game on a 15-yard reception from Ryan Mossakowski to tie Sammy Carpenter's 1952 school record for touchdowns in a season with 13. The Oklahoma State transfer now has 10 receiving touchdowns on the year to lead the Southland.
Mossakowski, who replaced Caleb Berry last week at Stephen F. Austin, would have to come out of Saturday's game after taking a vicious hit midway through the third quarter. This time it was Berry who would come in and lead the Cardinals on a touchdown drive.
After leading 20-3 at the half, Nicholls scored a pair of third quarter touchdowns to pull within three points at 20-17 with less than five to play in the third. Marcus Washington, who finished with 104 yards on 15 carries for the Colonels, scored Nicholls' first touchdown with 8:43 to play in the third.
After Mossakowski was intercepted by Toren Joseph on the Cards ensuing driven, NSU was in business at the Lamar 26-yard line. The Colonels needed just five plays to cover the 26 yards with LaQuintin Caston taking it in from four yards to make it a 20-17 game with 4:56 to play in the third.
Berry then went to work using his arm and legs to lead the Cardinals on a 90-yard touchdown drive to rebuild their advantage to 10 points. The redshirt sophomore quarterback capped the 15-play drive with three straight runs, including a 16-yard dash into the end zone with 11:19 to play in the game.
Defensive tackle John Prescott would give Lamar even more breathing room with 5:42 to play in the contest as he intercepted Landry Klann and rumbled 26 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cardinals a 34-17 lead.
Klann added a 9-yard scoring run with 1:50 to play in the game to provide the final scoring, but the LU defense had already left its mark on the game. The Cardinals finished with three interceptions and five sacks for 43 yards of losses.
Playing in his final home game as a Cardinal, linebacker Marcus Malbrough registered two of the Cardinals sacks, adding another tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a pair of quarterback hurries. Linebacker Jermaine Longino led the Cards with nine tackles, including a sack, and also forced a fumble.
"That was the best game by our defensive line," noted Woodard. "We put pressure on them and got sacks, but Prescott's pick couldn't have come at a better time. It just broke their back. With him being a senior, that's a great way for him to go out."
Nicholls got on the board with 4:58 to play in the first quarter as Andrew Dolan knocked down a 25-yard field goal to cut Lamar's lead to 7-3.
Ford, who leads the Cardinals with 44 catches on the year, found the end zone for the first time all year with 2:31 to play in the first half. Mossakowski, who finished 15-of-24 for 168 yards before leaving the game, hit Ford for a 20-yard scoring strike to end a 14-play, 80-yard drive.
Ford proved to be a big play receiver all day as seven of his nine catches went for first downs. Four of the first down catches came with the Cardinals facing a third down.
The Colonels would go three and out on their next possession and Cory Kemps managed just a 2-yard punt that gave the Cardinals the ball back with 1:35 to play in the first half at the Nicholls 46-yard line.
Lamar would need just 1:11 to build the 20-3 lead with Mossakowski finding Reggie Begelton for an 8-yard score to finish the drive. Lamar is now a perfect 4-0 on the year when leading at the half.
Berry would throw just five times in relief of Mossakowski, completing three for 26 yards. However, his four carries accounted for 70 yards as Lamar finished with 159 yards on the ground.
Klann finished 26-of-42 on the day for 209 yards. Jesse Turner led Nicholls with six catches for 42 yards as 10 separate Colonels caught a pass in the game.