Lamar holds final spring football practice

GO CARDINALS <strong>Payton Ploch scored three rushing touchdowns over the last two scrimmages</strong>
GO CARDINALS
Payton Ploch scored three rushing touchdowns over the last two scrimmages
GO CARDINALS

April 13, 2013

BEAUMONT - Lamar University held its final spring football practice Saturday morning at Provost Umphrey Stadium, wrapping up the spirited workout with the third scrimmage of the spring season.

It was the final of Lamar's 15 practices allowed under NCAA guidelines prior to holding its spring game, known as the Crawfish Bowl, on Tuesday, Apr. 16 at 7 p.m. Head coach Ray Woodardwill conduct the Crawfish Bowl draft Monday morning at 10 a.m. from the team meeting room in the Dauphin Athletic Complex.

"I know the spring game is important for people to come and see us, but this is the last practice with the units completely intact," said Woodard. "This was our last chance to really put it all together and I liked what we did today.

"We're physical and we're going to run into each other a lot. That's one of the good things about this team, they don't mind mixing it up. When you run into each other full speed, you're going to have nicks and bruises, but we haven't had any major injuries."

Quarterbacks Caleb Berry and Ryan Mossakowski each took turns under center as the Cardinals ran a 30-play controlled scrimmage at the end of Saturday's practice. Berry set the tone early as he hooked up with Michael Handyfor a 19-yard touchdown to complete a 50-yard drive that took just four plays.

Lamar's defense stepped up on the second series as Caleb Harmon fumbled on first down after a big hit from defensive back Zach Johnson. Fellow defensive back Nashon Daviswas able to come up with the fumble recovery after returning an interception for a score in last week's scrimmage.

The Cardinals' offense would strike for touchdowns on the ensuing two possessions. After three straight running plays, Berry hit Jayce Nelsonfor a 43-yard touchdown as the former Port Neches-Groves star got behind the defense.

Mossakowski, who finished 5-of-7 for 60 yards completed three passes on his next drive to get the ball down to the 6-yard line. The senior quarterback would take care of it himself from there with a scamper into the end zone around the left side.

"They (Berry and Mossakowski) have performed really well," said Woodard. "I like how they've both progressed. We're a little different offensively than we were. They've grasped the new things and they've both done a good job of running our offense."

Berry couldn't his team on the following drive, but redshirt freshman kicker Alex Ball came in and nailed a 57-yard field goal. Mossakowski ran into similar troubles on his next drive which included a Joe Okafor hit on Harmon for no gain. Senior kicker Justin Stouthit a 41-yard field goal to cap the possession which began at the defense's 20-yard line.

Lamar's running game proved itselft on Berry's last drive as the Cardinals took it in for a score. Starting at the 15-yard line, Payton Plochwould carry three times, including scoring from a yard out to cap the drive. Berry finished the day 3-of-5 for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

The final drive of the day lasted just three plays as the defense stepped up. Defensive lineman Mark Murrillsacked Mossakowski on first down for a 5-yard loss. Mossakowski hit Harmon for a completion that yielded no gain and he connected with Harmon again on third down for 10 yards. Ronnie Jones laid a big hit on Harmon to close the practice.

"We went into the spring and set some goals that we wanted to accomplish and I think we've done that," said Woodard about the three weeks of practice. "I think we're where we need to be at this time. We're not ready to play a game, but we're where we need to be right now."

As happy as Woodard was about the three-week spring season, the final practice did come with a dark cloud as his former junior college coach and mentor Jim Miller passed away unexpectedly Saturday morning. Miller coached Woodard for two seasons at Kilgore Junior College before Woodard was an assistant for four seasons under him.

"He kind of made me the man and the player I was, and he definitely made me the coach I am," said Woodard about Miller. "He's been my mentor especially with my father passing. I know I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. It's a tough day."

Prior to the Crawfish Bowl, in conjunction with the A.T.O. Alumni Association, Lamar Athletics will be hosting a crawfish cookout. Crawfish cookout teams are currently being encouraged to sign-up and register their teams to participate in the cookout by emailing Michael Wilkinson at michael.wilkinson@lamar.edu or calling 409-880-7677. Plates will be sold at the game to sample and judge by the LU softball team with all proceeds benefiting their program. The cookout will take place from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. in the Dauphin Athletic Complex parking lot.

Lamar's 12-game season begins on Aug. 31 when Oklahoma Panhandle State pays a visit to Provost Umphrey Stadium. For ticket information, call (409) 880-1715 or visit www.LamarCardinals.com.

2013 Remaining Lamar Spring Practice Schedule
Mon., Apr. 15 Spring Game Draft at 10 a.m.
Tues., Apr. 16 Crawfish Bowl at 7 p.m.

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