Nov. 12, 2011
THIBODAUX, La. – Andre Bevil came off the bench Saturday night to throw three touchdown passes as Lamar University snapped its five-game losing streak with a 34-19 victory over Nicholls.
Bevil, who did not play the previous week against Stephen F. Austin, connected with J.J. Hayes on scoring strikes of 8 and 32 yards and with Marcus Jackson for 14 yards. Bevil, who replaced starting quarterback Doug Prewitt in the second quarter, finished the game at 14-for-23 for 186 yards.
“I thought that we showed we’re not ready to have our season end,” said Ray Woodard, Lamar’s head coach. “Andre did a great job of coming off the bench and leading the offense. He made big plays and picked up his teammates.”
Jackson and Hayes combined for 171 of the Cardinals’ 225 receiving yards. Jackson had five catches for 64 yards, while Hayes snared four balls for 107 yards.
“J.J. can do those type of things,” said Woodard of Hayes’ acrobatic, one-handed stab of Bevil’s 8-yard TD pass in the second quarter. “He had been in a bit of a drought here lately, and I was happy to see him make those catches.”
Jackson also returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, and the opportunistic Cardinal defense came up with four turnovers, although it did allow Nicholls quarterback LaQuintin Caston to run for 177 yards and one touchdown.
“That played worked out just like you draw it up,” said Woodard with tongue in cheek of Jackson’s big kickoff return that pulled the Cards into a 7-7 tie in the second quarter. “You just lay the ball on the ground, come back and get it and then run with it all the way.”
The victory moved the Cardinals to 4-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Southland Conference, while Nicholls’ ninth-straight loss dropped the Colonels to 1-9 and 0-6, respectively.
Cornerbacks Keinon Peterson and Branden Thomas came up with interceptions for the Cardinals, while linebacker Asim Hicks and defensive end Marcus Malbrough had fumble recoveries.
In addition to his rushing yards, Caston completed 21 of 40 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
“We got a lot of positives out of this game that we can build on next week and take into our final game against McNeese State,” said Woodard. “We just want to make sure that we never lose five games in row again as long I’m coaching at Lamar.”
The Cardinal defense stopped a fourth-down scramble by Caston at their 17-yard line on the Colonels’ first offensive possession, and cornerback Keinon Petserson halted the second with an interception at the 23-yard line.
When the Colonels reached a fourth-and-3 situation from the Lamar 40 on their next possession, it appeared the Cardinals were close to making a third-straight stop. However, Caston managed to elude the defense and scramble around right end for 18 yards to the 22.
The Colonels went on to complete their 14-play, 69-yard drive on Caston’s 9-yard pass to Bolt near the left sideline in the south end zone. Andrew Dolan’s conversion made it 7-0 Colonels with 12:26 left in the second quarter.
Eighteen seconds later – following Jackson’s rather-bizarre kickoff return – the Cardinals found themselves in a 7-7 tie. Jackson dropped the ball but retreated a couple of steps to retrieve it and then outran the coverage en route to his 78-yard score.
Bevil went five-for-five for 60 yards on the Cardinals’ tie-breaking drive. He started it by completing three-straight passes to Sparks for a total of 35 yards, then he drilled a 17-yarder to Jackson to reach the 8-yard line.
Hayes then made a one-handed, leaping catch in the end zone for the touchdown that came with 49 second remaining in the half.
On the final play of the half Dolan boomed his 49-yard field goal that reduced the Cardinals’ halftime lead to 14-10,
The momentum shifted back to Lamar midway in the third quarter when Payton Ploch blocked Cory Kemps’ punt, and the ball came down in Guillory’s hands to set up his 29-yard touchdown return. Justin Stout’s extra point kick made it 21-10 Cardinals with 8:08 left in the quarter.
Dolan’s second field goal of the evening – a 27-yarder at the 4:44 mark of the third quarter – pulled the Colonels to within 21-13.
Later in the period, Bobby Felder’s interception of a Bevil pass set up the Colonels’ five-play, 52-yard drive to the touchdown that pulled them to within 21-19. Caston scored it on a 21-yard scramble up the middle, and he completed a pass to Josh Hanberry on the two-point conversion attempt, but Braden Thomas stopped the play just short of the goal line.
The Cardinals then gained separation as Bevil added his 9-yard scoring toss to Jackson and his 32-yarder to Hayes in the fourth quarter. Hayes helped set up the strike to Jackson by breaking a tackle after taking pass near the left sideline and then running 43 yards to the 14.
After the Colonels failed to execute a fake punt play, the Cardinals drove 38 yards on six plays, and Hayes sneaked behind a defender in one-on-one coverage to get open for Bevil’s over-the-top, 32-yard scoring pass. It came with 10:34 left and padded the Cardinals’ lead to 34-19.
The Colonels put together a late, 15-play, 82-yard drive and capped it with five seconds remaining on a 9-yard pass from Caston to Demon Bolt.
The Cardinals will return home next Saturday to close their 2011 season against longtime rival McNeese State. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. in 16,000-seat Provost Umphrey Stadium.