Lamar jumps back into Southland play at Central Arkansas
Oct. 18, 2012
CONWAY, Ark. - A week after dispatching McMurry University 52-21 on homecoming, Lamar University will jump back into Southland Conference football action with a Saturday evening contest at No. 18 Central Arkansas. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. from Estes Stadium.
The Cardinals (3-4 overall) will go in search of their first Southland win of the season after losing 31-21 to Southeastern Louisiana and 30-23 at Northwestern State to open league play. This will be Lamar's first game against a ranked Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team since falling 66-0 at No. 6 Sam Houston State on Oct. 29 of last season.
"There are a lot of teams that still control their own destiny and we're one of them," said Woodard about the conference race. "We can still get back in this thing because of what we have left on our schedule. We'd have to win a lot of tough games against very good football teams, but it's there for us."
Saturday's contest can be heard live in the Golden Triangle on KLVI 560 AM with Harold Mann providing the play-by-play and former LU linebacker Bo Brown serving as analyst. It can also be watched live through the Central Arkansas Athletics Web site at www.ucagameday.com.
This will be just the second ever meeting between the two schools with UCA winning last year's contest 38-24 in Beaumont. The Cardinals led 14-0 after the first quarter but couldn't hold on despite racking up 387 yards of total offense against the Bears' defense.
Lamar was impressive in all three phases of the game in its last outing as the Cardinals scored on offense, defense and special teams against McMurry. Sophomore wide receiver Kevin Johnsonwas responsible for scoring two different ways en route to tying the school record of four touchdowns.
Johnson, who already has 11 touchdowns on the season, returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score before catching three touchdown passes from quarterback Caleb Berry. On the year, Johnson has 16 catches for 275 yards and nine receiving touchdowns.
Junior running back DePauldrick Garrettadded 104 rushing yards against the War Hawks on just 10 carries, becoming Lamar's first 100-yard rusher since the 2011 season opener when he accomplished the feat against Texas College. Lamar finished with 275 rushing yards in the game for its highest total since reinstating the program prior to the 2010 season.
Starting running back Herschel Simsjust missed the total as he went out with an injury early in the third quarter having amassed 99 yards on 18 carries. Sims is expected to be fully recovered and ready to play in Saturday's contest at Central Arkansas.
LU's defensive touchdown came courtesy of junior defensive back Branden Thomaswho returned his second interception of the game 53 yards for a score. Lamar also registered a season-high five sacks against the War Hawks.
Lamar's strong pass defense will get a real test Saturday against UCA. The Cardinals lead the Southland Conference by allowing just 176.3 yards per game through the air, while the Bears are second in the league in passing yardage at 262.3 per game.
The Bears, who are coming off a 27-26 win at McNeese State to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in league play, are the second-highest scoring team in the Southland at 37.3 points per game. Lamar ranks second in scoring defense, giving up 25.1 points per game, but is averaging just 22.9 per game on offense.
"They're very physical on both sides of the football," said Woodard about UCA. "They're just a good, solid football team. They play hard. They've won two games in the fourth quarter by playing 60 minutes and Coach (Clint) Conque has done a very good job with that team. This is going to be a tough game for us."
Berry is expected to get his third straight start at quarterback for the Cardinals. The redshirt sophomore is 32-for-64 on the year for 360 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Sims and Garrett lead the LU ground game as the duo is combining for just over 100 yards rushing per game. Freshmen Darrell Harris and Desmond Richardshave also shown ability in limited action this year.
Lamar's defensive effort is led by junior linebacker Jermaine Longinowho has a team-best 54 tackles on the year and leads the Southland Conference with 38 solo stops through seven games. The junior college All-America has twice registered 13 tackles in a game this year.
The Cards have gotten solid play from its defensive front all season as Jesse Dickson, Mark Murrill, John Prescott, Joe Okafor and Adren Dorseyhave combined for eight sacks on the year. Dickson and Murrill each have six tackles for loss, as well.
Junior quarterback Wynrick Smothers is having a strong year for the Bears with 1,760 yards passing and a conference-best 18 touchdowns. Smothers has connected on 167 of his 250 pass attempts and is also second on the team in rushing with 235 yards.
Six different Bears have at least 10 catches on the year with Jesse Grandy leading the way with 37. Senior Dominique Croom is just behind with 36 and leads UCA with 462 yards and five receiving touchdowns. Grandy leads the Southland in punt return average (15.4) and is second in kickoff return average (30.2).
Defensively, Justin Heard and Jestin Love each have 51 total tackles to pace the Bears. Heard is also second in the conference in tackles for loss with 9.5, while Jonathan Woodard leads the team with five sacks.