Nov. 19, 2011
BEAUMONT, - J.J. Hayes set the school record for receiving yards in a season and the mark for catches in a game in Lamar University's 45-17 loss to McNeese State.
Hayes completed his sensational two-season Cardinal career by catching 14 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown. The 14 catches are one more than former Lamar star Herbert Harris caught in a 1981 game against Louisiana Tech, and the 189 yards boosted his season total to 951, giving him 33 more than Chris Ford had in 1989.
"J.J. kind of mentally wasn't doing what he should have been for a couple of weeks at one point in the season, and you could see it was affecting his play," said Ray Woodard, Lamar's head coach. "His playing time went down, because he was having to split it with other players.
"I sat him down and had a good, long talk with him before our game against Nicholls. He got straightened out, and he really played great the last two weeks.
"I am really proud of the way he finished up. His best football is still ahead of him. He will find a home in pro football. He hasn't scratched the surface yet."
Hayes, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound split end from Diboll, hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Andre Bevil for the touchdown that gave the Cardinals a 7-3 lead in the first quarter. By halftime, he had nine catches for 113 yards, and he finished the third quarter with 12 for 165 yards.
Hayes' final collegiate reception was a 17-yarder from backup quarterback Caleb Berry with 35 seconds remaining.
The season-ending loss dropped the Cardinals' records to 4-7 over-all and 2-5 in the Southland Conference. The victory improved the Cowboys to 6-5 and 4-3, respectively.
"I hate that the score got away from us at the end," said Woodard. "We had a lot of good effort tonight. The score is not indicative of how well we played.
"You can't win in this league when you turn the ball over as many times as we did."
The Cardinals threw four interceptions, including two for touchdowns -- a 44 yarder in the third quarter by junior free safety Malcolm Bronson of Jasper and an 84-yarder in the game's final minute by junior cornerback Janzen Jackson. The Cowboys had a 67-yard touchdown dash by sophomore quarterback Dionta Spencer early in the fourth quarter.
Bevil, a senior from West Orange-Stark, completed 17 of 36 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown before leaving the game with an elbow injury early in the third quarter. Berry, a freshman from Needville, went 16 for 23 for 150 yards and one touchdown - a 12-yarder to Jesse Sparks on the first play of the fourth quarter. Each quarterback threw two interceptions.
Lamar's defenders stopped Cowboys three yards short of the north end zone on their first possession to force Josh Lewis' 20-yard field goal.
The Cardinals then drove 80 yards on eight plays to seize a 7-3 lead on Bevil's 24-yard pass to Hayes and Justin Stout's extra point. Another key play on the drive was a Bevil pass to senior slot receiver Marcus Jackson for 28 yards.
A little over two minutes later, Chad Allen intercepted a Cody Stroud pass and returned it four yards to give the Cardinals possession at the McNeese 37-yard line. A 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Cowboys and a running completion of 16 yards by Bevil to Hayes moved the ball to the 5-yard line.
Four plays later, however, the Cardinals had to settle for Stout's 20-yard field goal that made it 10-3 with 2:22 left in the first quarter.
Champlain Babin's 51-yard return of the ensuing kickoff gave the Cowboys excellent field position, and on their first play from scrimmage Darius Carey weaved his way through the Lamar secondary en route to his 34-yard touchdown run. Lewis' conversion tied the score at 10-10 with 2:05 left in the quarter.
With 2:48 left in the second quarter Kentrell Butler intercepted a Bevil pass to leave the Cowboys only 36 yards to drive for the tie-breaking touchdown. They negotiated that distance on two runs by Carey and two by Andre Anderson with the final one being an 11-yarder with 1:15 left in the half.
Bevil got 146 of his 186 first-half passing yards in the opening quarter. He completed 17 of 33 attempts, and he was also Lamar's leading rusher in the half with a net of 23 yards.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys stuck mainly on the ground in the opening half as they accounted for 104 of their 160 total yards with their rushing attack. Carey led the way with 62 yards on seven carries, and he finished with 80 on 12 totes.
Bronson stepped in front of Bevil's intended receiver to make his damaging interception and sped 44 yards untouched to the north end zone to give the Cowboys a 24-10 lead with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter.
On the Cardinals' second possession after he replaced Bevil at quarterback, Berry guided a seven-play, 98-yard drive that reduced the deficit to 24-17. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the freshman from Needville went over the middle to Sparks for the final 12 yards. The other big play in the drive was a 36-yard Berry pass to Hayes pass.
The Cowboys forced a punt on Lamar's next possession, then drove 90 yards on six plays to score the touchdown that increased their lead to 31-17. The payoff was a quarterback draw by Spencer on which he outraced the Cardinal secondary for 67 yards with 4:38 left.
Anderson scored his second touchdown of the night on a 2-yard dive with 3:55 remaining, and Jackson's 84-yard interception return came with 48 seconds left.