Cardinals host rival McNeese State to close season
Nov. 17, 2011
BEAUMONT - Fresh from snapping its five-game losing streak with a 34-26 road victory at Nicholls, Lamar University's football team returns home Saturday to close its 2011 season against longtime rival McNeese State.
Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. in 16,000-seat Provost Umphrey Stadium.
Last week's win over Nicholls, highlighted by big plays from quarterback Andre Bevil, split end J.J. Hayes, wide receiver/kick returner Marcus Jackson and an opportunistic defense that created four turnovers, improved the Cardinals to 4-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Southland Conference.
Coach Matt Viator's Cowboys held off non-conference foe UTSA 24-21 to even their record at 5-5. McNeese State is 3-3 in the SLC and tied for fourth place, one game ahead of Lamar.
Bevil came off the bench in the second quarter last week and gave the offense a huge lift by throwing three touchdown passes, covering 8 and 32 yards to Hayes and 14 yards to Jackson, who also returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, McNeese State leaped to an early 17-0 lead on UTSA, sparked by touchdown runs of 5 yards by Champlain Babin and 21 yards by Andre Anderson and a 30-yard field goal by Josh Lewis.
Josh Jordan scored the Cowboys' other touchdown on a 29-yard reception from Darius Carey. Anderson finished the game with 158 rushing yards on 26 carries, including a long of 59 yards.
Bevil set a school record for passing as the Cardinals put a serious scare into 11th-ranked McNeese State in a 30-27 season-opening loss in the school's first football game in 21 years last September at Cowboy Field in Lake Charles.
Bevil completed 24 of 41 attempts for 429 yards and three touchdowns, eclipsing the previous record of 412 yards set by Shad Smith in a 1987 game against Louisiana-Monroe.
Bevil's touchdown strikes went to Marcus Jackson for 26 yards in the first quarter, 12 yards to Josh Powdrill on the first play of the fourth quarter and 4 yards to J.J. Hayes to register the final score with 3:23 remaining.
Jackson and Powdrill both went over 100 yards receiving with 123 and 120, respectively, and Hayes finished with 90 yards, while Kendrick Prejean had 87.
McNeese State kept it balanced offensively, racking up 207 rushing yards and 288 yards through the air. Tailback Marcus Wiltz led the Cowboys in rushing with 182 yards on 26 carries, and quarterback Jacob Bower completed 18 of 31 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception.
Bower's TD passes went 48 yards to Henry Bernardo and 6 yards to DeVio Edmonson, and the senior quarterback also sneaked 2 yards for the Cowboys' first TD.
Bevil, Hayes, Jackson, Powdrill and Prejean are among the 19 seniors Lamar will honor in pregame ceremonies Saturday night. With the exception of running back Kwabena Asante, who was a senior last season, these seniors will be the first to finish their Cardinal careers since 1989 when Lamar discontinued the football program for a 21-year span.
In alphabetical order, the other Cardinal seniors are free safety Michael Allen, offensive guard Joey Chavez, tight end Billy Chavis, defensive back Ryan Clark, linebacker Jacody Coleman, offensive tackle Cameron Epple, defensive tackle Mario Foster, offensive lineman Alex Goff, strong safety Tim Hayter, linebacker Asim Hicks, linebacker Darby Jackson, offensive lineman Jacobson Joseph, running back Octavious Logan and offensive lineman John Woods.
McNeese's 30-27 victory over Lamar last season was the Cowboys' 10th win in their past 13 games against the Cardinals. They are 10-2-1 over that stretch, and they hold an all-time advantage of 20-8-1 in the series that began with a 13-7 McNeese victory in Lake Charles in 1951.
The Cardinals won 22-17 the last time the teams played in Beaumont in 1989, just a couple of weeks before Lamar discontinued its football program for a period that lasted 21 years until its revival last year.
Prior to the 1989 game, Lamar's previous victory over the Cowboys was 12-3 in 1982. The lone tie in the series was a 20-20 job in 1981. There have been three shutouts in the series -- all notched by McNeese.
Lamar's largest victory margin in the series was 28 points by a 35-7 score in the 1977 game played in Lake Charles. McNeese's largest victory margin was 35 points by a 42-7 score in the 1952 game played in Beaumont.
The Cardinals' longest winning streak in the series was three games played in 1956, 1966 and 1967.
The 29-game series between the schools is the longest in Lamar history. The second-longest series for Lamar is the Cardinals' 26-gamer against Arkansas State. The Red Wolves lead that one, 15-10-1.
The Cardinals have averaged 13.8 points per game in their series against McNeese with their high being 36 points in an eight-point loss in 1987, while the Cowboys have averaged 21.0 points per game.