Cardinals, fans targeting Homecoming turnaround
Oct. 6, 2010
BEAUMONT - Between 1981 and 1989 - the last season for Lamar University to field a football team before this year - the Cardinals won only one of nine Homecoming games.
That's a trend this year's restart Cardinals and their fans would like to see take an immediate turnaround, beginning with Saturday night's 2010 Homecoming Game against Langston University in 16,000-seat Provost Umphrey Stadium.
The Cardinals' only homecoming victory during that gloomy, nine-season run in the 1980s was 48-28 over Louisiana-Monroe in 1987.
In Lamar's last Homecoming Game played during football season, Arkansas State overcame a 31-10 halftime deficit to hand the Cardinals a stunning 41-31 loss on Oct. 7, 1989.
In addition to wanting to turn around the school's homecoming fortunes, this year's Cardinals are also aiming to end their two-game losing streak. Since opening the season with a strong showing in a 30-27 loss to then nationally-ranked McNeese State and then stringing together wins of 21-14 over Webber International and 29-28 over Southeastern Louisiana, the Cardinals have dropped back-to-back games to Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State by a combined score of 109-13.
Cardinal head coach Ray Woodard told media members after Saturday's 38-10 loss to Sam Houston that he was not buying into what he referred to as "excuses being offered by some of our fans" for what he regarded as "unsatisfactory progress" being made by the team.
If the 2-3 Cardinals are to make satisfactory progress this week, they'll have to do so against a Langston team that is 3-1 and fresh from a come-from-behind, 14-13 road victory over Bacone College. The Lions' other wins have been 28-20 over Incarnate Word College and 30-14 over Oklahoma Panhandle State, and their loss was 50-27 to Alcorn State.
Coach Greg Johnson's Lions trailed Bacone 7-0 going into the fourth quarter of Saturday afternoon's game but rallied to win on Chad Miller's 25-yard touchdown pass to Justin Robinson and Carlos Ross' 4-yard scoring run. Bacone scored a touchdown to pull to within 14-13 with 45 seconds remaining, but the Lions successfully defended a two-point conversion pass attempt.
Lamar is averaging a Southland Conference-best of 16,894 fans for its two home games this season, and another capacity crowd is assured for Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff.
On display for this week's homecoming gathering will be the Cardinals' potent passing attack which has already seen quarterback Andre Bevil post the two-best, single-game totals in school history and three of the top 11.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior from West Orange-Stark has an even 1,500 passing yards on 110-of-194 accuracy for 56.7 percent and has thrown 11 touchdown passes. His favorite targets have been split end J.J. Hayes, who has 31 catches for 372 yards and five touchdowns, and flanker Marcus Jackson (24 receptions for 445 yards and three TDs).
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 one second-place and two third-place team rankings in this week's SLC stats, and they would have four individual first-place and one second-place rankings.
The Cardinals' 304.0-yard passing average would rank second among the other eight league members, and their 129.20 passing efficiency rating would be third along with their kickoff return average of 22.5 yards.
Bevil's averages of 300.0-yards in passing and 292.8 yards in total offense would rank first in the league as well as Justin Stout's 100 percent rating on conversion kicks and Jacody Coleman's average of 0.40 fumble recoveries per game. The Cardinals' would-be second-place ranking is Jackson's 89.0 receiving yards per game.
In Lamar's 1989 Homecoming Game, Kenny Franklin rushed for 62 yards and three touchdowns for the Cardinals, while John Evans completed 27 of 44 passes for 273 yards and one TD. Franklin's scoring runs covered 1, 2 and 2 yards, and Evans' TD toss traveled 20 yards to tight end Tyrone Shavers.
After Saturday's game, the Cardinals will remain at home to play South Alabama on Oct. 16, for another 6 p.m. kickoff.
The high-scoring Jaguars, who entertain Missouri S&T this Saturday, started their football program last year and won all seven of their games. Coach Joey Jones' Jags are still undefeated going into Saturday's game as they pounded Pikeville (Kentucky) 56-0 in their opener and beat Nicholls 39-21, Edward Waters 64-0 and Kentucky Wesleyan 52-3. That gives them a scoring margin of 211-24 in four games.