Cards set to challenge SFA
Sept. 22, 2010
BEAUMONT, Texas - Three-game winning streaks were rare commodities to Lamar University when it last fielded football teams back in the 1980s.
Lamar's last football team - prior to this year - did win three-straight games in 1989 to reach 3-1, but those Cardinals finished the season at 5-5 and the program was discontinued a couple of weeks later for budgetary reasons.
The only other time Lamar strung together three-successive football victories during the 1980s was in 1985 when coach Ken Stephens' Cardinals opened the season with wins over Texas Southern, Prairie View A&M and Texas State. Those Cardinals then lost their final eight games.
That brings us back to the present as this year's restart band of Cardinals are preparing to take a modest two-game winning streak on the road Saturday night to face Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches' 14,575-seat Homer Bryce Stadium.
If coach Ray Woodard's Cardinals, who have defeated Webber International 21-14 and Southeastern Louisiana 29-28 in back-to-back games to reach 2-1 in the early going, are to make it three in a row, they'll have to knock off a formidable foe in the FCS sixth-ranked Lumberjacks.
After opening with a 48-7 loss at Texas A&M, the Lumberjacks, who were the preseason choice to win this year's Southland Conference championship, have destroyed Albany 59-14 at home and squeaked by then 13th-ranked Northern Iowa 22-20 on the road.
Like the Cardinals, the Lumberjacks rely heavily on the pass for their offensive success. They're averaging 329.0 yards per game through the air as opposed to 59.0 yards per game on the ground. Lamar's respective averages are 357.0 and 54.3.
In addition to wanting to protect their lofty national ranking, the Lumberjacks have the matter of a homefield winning streak to keep intact. They won all six of their games in Homer Bryce last season, and this year's win over Albany put their home streak at seven games, matching their longest since a similar run spanning the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
Also like the Cardinals, the Lumberjacks are under the leadership of a talented offensive field general. Senior quarterback Jeremy Moses of Baytown Lee was Co-Player of the Year in the SLC last season, and he's fresh from receiving SLC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 37-of-55, 356-yard passing effort in the Jacks' win over Northern Iowa.
Through three games this season, Moses has completed 84 of 129 passes (65.1 percent) for 840 yards and five touchdowns. For his three-plus-season career, he has 10,243 yards, making him only the second player in SLC history to surpass the 10,000-yard barrier.
Lamar's junior quarterback Andre Bevil is also off to an impressive start. In only three outings, he has already compiled the two highest single-game passing totals in school history - 429 yards against McNeese State and 417 yards vs. Southeastern Louisiana last week.
For the season, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Bevil is 74 of 130 (56.9 percent) for 1,071 yards and 10 touchdowns. His passing efficiency rating of 143.82 is superior to Moses' 129.50 mark.
As an unclassified member of the Football Championship Subdivision this season, Lamar is ineligible for team or individual ranking in either the SLC or NCAA FCS weekly statistical reports. If that was not the case, however, the Cardinals would have two first and one second-place team rankings in this week's SLC stats, and they would have seven individual first-place and two second-place rankings.
The Cardinals' 357.0-yard passing average is better than that of any of the other eight league members as is their 142.72 passing efficiency rating. The Cardinals' 411.3-yard total offense average is second best to the 423.0-yard mark of 3-0 Central Arkansas.
Bevil, who is averaging 357.0 yards per game passing and 361.3 yards in total offense, would rank first in the league in both categories as well as in passing efficiency. Other would-be, top individual rankings for the Cardinals this week are wideout Marcus Jackson's 91.0-yard receiving average, J.J. Hayes' average of 10.0 points scored per game, Justin Stout's 100 percent rating on conversion kicks, Tim Hayter's average of 0.67 interceptions per game and Jacody Coleman's average of 0.67 fumble recoveries per game..
This will be the 23rd meeting between Lamar and SFA in football since LU became a four-year institution in 1951. The Cardinals hold a 14-8 advantage in the series, and they are 6-4 in games played in Nacogdoches.
In the last football game played between Lamar and SFA, the visiting Lumberjacks scored 31 points in the second and third quarters to overcome a 14-7 deficit and pull away to a 44-20 victory on Sept. 30, 1989.
Larry Centers, who went on to enjoy a distinguished career in the NFL, caught touchdown passes of 31 and 39 yards from SFA quarterback Todd Hammel that night, and he also had a 7-yard scoring run. Hammel completed 32 of 42 passes for 394 yards and four TDs, while Centers rushed for 89 yards and had 105 receiving yards.
Lamar's John Evans threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tyrone Shavers, and he also sneaked in for a pair of 1-yard scores.
Evans completed 22 of 44 attempts for 230 yards with one interception, but the Lumberjacks sacked him nine times for 55 yards in losses. The Cardinals wound up with a net of 26 rushing yards on 29 carries.
After Saturday's game, the Cardinals will come home to play three-straight games in newly-renovated Provost Umphrey Stadium. First up will be longtime rival Sam Houston State for a 6 p.m. game on Oct. 2.
The Bearkats, who entertain Gardner Webb in their first home game this Saturday, are off to an 0-2 start, having dropped road decisions of 34-3 to Baylor and 56-14 to Western Illinois. Lamar trails Sam Houston 13-8-1 in the all-time series between the schools.
After the Sam Houston State game, the Cardinals will play Langston University in their 2010 Homecoming Game on Oct. 9 and then host South Alabama on Oct. 16. Both of those start times are also 6 p.m.