Nov. 21, 2011
BEAUMONT - Seven individual and six team records were either set or tied during Lamar University's 2011 football season, one that produced a 4-7 record in the second year for the Cardinals to play football since 1989.
J.J. Hayes led the individual assault, setting three records, including two in the season finale, a 45-17 home loss to rival McNeese State. The senior split end's final two records were his 14 receptions against McNeese and his 951 receiving yards for the season.
The 14 catches were one more than the previous record of 13 set by former Cardinal standout Herbert Harris in a 1981 game against Louisiana Tech, and the 951 receiving yards (which led the Southland Conference) are 33 more than the 918 accumulated by Chris Ford of the 1989 Cardinals.
Earlier in the season, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Hayes, who previously starred at Diboll High School and Navarro College, shattered the Lamar single-game receiving record with 212 yards against Northwestern State.
"It was a bitter, sweet season for us," said Ray Woodard, Lamar's head coach, during a season-ending news conference Monday afternoon. "There were some great things that we can take a lot of pride in, but, obviously, there are a lot of things we can build on, too. We expect to do more next year.
"We want to be more competitive in more games than we were. There were a couple this year when we weren't. We had chances to win games against Central Arkansas and against McNeese State, and we didn't get the job done."
Both DePauldrick Garrett and Justin Stout etched their names in the school record book in the season opener, a 58-0 victory over Texas College that set a team record for margin of victory. Garrett, a 5-8, 190-pound junior from West Orange-Stark, set new standards for points scored in a game with 24 and for touchdowns in a game with four.
Stout, a 6-1, 160-pound sophomore from West Mesquite High School, matched former Cardinal star Walter Smith's record of eight extra point kicks in the Texas College game. Stout went on to set the one-season mark for extra points with 35.
Among the other team records set by the Cardinals were their 20 fumbles caused. The other team records set were of the dubious variety - most yards allowed in a season (2,329), most touchdown passes allowed in a season (22), most TD passes allowed in a game (five) and most points allowed in a season (430).
"We finished well in our games against Nicholls and McNeese, although the score against McNeese may not indicate that," said Woodard. "We probably played our best game Saturday night, and that speaks well of the character on this football team. Still, we have to do a better job as a coaching staff and as a team."
For the second-straight season, strongside linebacker Asim Hicks, a 6-0, 210-pound senior from Newark, N.J., led the defense with 103 tackles, a total that ranked second in the Southland Conference.
"Today was kind of a sad day for us," said Woodard. "We took the seniors off the depth chart board, and that was depressing. We're losing four quality wide receivers and a great quarterback, and we're going to need a lot of help in the secondary.
"We're going to be deep in some spots, but we're going to be very, very thin in others. You're always concentrating on improving your depth, and that's what we're going to be working on during this recruiting period."
Also for the second-straight year, the Cardinals led the conference in home attendance as they drew 87,965 fans for six dates in 16,000-seat Provost Umphrey Stadium for an average of 14,661 per game.
"We allowed way too many points," said Woodard. "The scores got out of hand in some games, but a lot of that was my fault. I was being too competitive in trying to catch up in a hurry instead of just holding the scores down.
"Offensively, we need to run the ball better, and I believe we will. We had some injuries that affected our ability to do that this year. Our kicking game wasn't as good early in the season as I wanted it to be, but I thought it got better later.
"I am proud of a lot of things, but I'm not satisfied in anything. Mainly, I'm not satisfied in the job I did. I'm not crying about the great number of injuries we had, but on the plus side of that, we had a lot of young men step up and play admirably and they got a lot of great experience from that.
"Also on the positive side, we were picked to finish last in the conference, and we didn't finish last. Obviously, though, we need to close the gap between us and teams like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. We have such a good, competitive league from top to bottom."