July 29, 2010
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37 DAYS UNTIL KICKOFF - "It's a 42-yard field goal try. It's up. It's good! It's good! Cardinals win 18-17!"
Simple words, yes. Yet, they are 15 of the more profound words in Lamar University football history.
They were delivered over the air by KLVI 560 AM's Dave Hofferth on the evening of Sept. 8, 1981. He exclaimed them with three seconds remaining in Lamar's stunning 18-17 upset of defending Southwest Conference champion Baylor in Waco's Baylor Stadium.
"That was the signature win of my 12 years of broadcasting Lamar football games," said Hofferth, now sports director at Beaumont's KBMT TV, Channel 12. "It's hands down - by far - the biggest football call I ever made. There's not even a close second."
That's not to say Hofferth didn't describe to his listeners other big moments in Lamar football history. Beginning with a 21-17 victory over Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., on Sept. 11, 1978 and ending with a 22-17 comeback triumph over McNeese State in Beaumont on Nov. 18, 1989, he called 130 of Lamar's 131 games over 12 seasons.
The only game Hofferth missed over that span was a 39-35 road victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 12, 1987, when he was busy working with the Houston Astros broadcast team.
"Calling Burton Murchison's 259-yard rushing game against Rice in 1985 was also exciting," said Hofferth. "The only drawback was that Lamar lost (29-28). Burton could've had even more yards had he not had a pretty long run called back by what we (he and broadcast buddy Al Caldwell) thought to be a questionable flag on a clipping penalty.
"Two more exciting games I remember calling were road wins over Louisiana Tech in back-to-back seasons (40-13 in 1982 and 18-12 in 1983). Lamar didn't beat Louisiana Tech very often (six times in 22 games, to be exact)."
In addition to calling the 130 Cardinal football games, Hofferth has broadcast 916 Cardinal men's basketball games over 32 seasons and an undetermined number of baseball games and Lady Cardinal basketball games. The grand total, he estimates, approaches 1,200 Lamar athletic events.
Now, that's a lot of talking.
Hofferth, a communications graduate of the University of Houston, singled out Cardinal linebacker Eugene Seale as the most dominating defensive player he ever had the honor of describing.
"One play that jumps out to me is Eugene intercepting a pass and returning it 52 yards for a touchdown against Nicholls State on his very first college play (in 1983)," said Hofferth, a 1997 inductee to the Cardinal Hall of Honor. "Then there was the University of Houston game in the Astrodome that same season.
"Eugene was phenomenal in that game. He covered from sideline to sideline. Houston won (42-35) but not at a cost. On one play, Eugene lowered the boom on one player and knocked him out."
Hofferth's personal list of big calls went on to include Kurt Phoenix's 98-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff to ignite the Cardinals' 58-27 victory over Western Kentucky in 1979, Larry Haynes' 403-yard passing game against UT Arlington in 1979, Shad Smith's school-record 412 passing yards against Louisiana-Monroe in 1987 and John Evans' 407 passing yards vs. UT-El Paso in 1989.
Hofferth ended his summation by saying, "Then there was Kenny Franklin's off-tackle run to beat McNeese State (22-17) in 1989. It was the last touchdown in the last game Lamar played. Things looked hopeless at the start of the fourth quarter (McNeese led 14-6), but the Cardinals came back and won.
"It's always been hard for me to believe that Lamar dropped football. I thought football would be the last sport they would drop. This is Texas where football is the national sport. The important thing now, though, is that it's back and, hopefully, it's back to stay."
The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved an athletics fee to help restore the football program in February of 2008, and Lamar named former NFL player Ray Woodard its eighth head football coach on June 19, 2008.
The Cardinals will play an 11-game schedule this season with six games to be played in newly renovated Provost Umphrey Stadium. The season opener will be at McNeese State on Sept. 4, and the Cardinals' home opener will be Sept. 11 against Webber International.
Tickets for this historic season are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling the Lamar athletics ticket office at (409) 880-1715 or by visiting the athletics website at www.lamarcardinals.com/tickets/footbl-s-tickets.html.