Nov. 21, 2013
Lamar Game Notes
McNeese State Game Notes
BEAUMONT, Texas -
After one of the most thrilling wins in program history, the Lamar Cardinals step back on the field to face rival McNeese State in the 2013 regular-season finale. The Cards (5-6/2-4 SLC) enter the week in a two-way tie for fifth, and in search of their first six-win season since resurrecting the program. The No. 6-ranked Cowboys are second in the league with a 9-2 overall record and 5-1 conference mark.
The Cardinals posted their come-from-behind victory over rival Stephen F. Austin. Lamar trailed the Lumberjacks by nine points with less than five minutes remaining but never quit on the game. Lamar scored a touchdown with 2:46 left, and forced a three-and-out, which set up freshman Alex Ball's game-winning kick. The California-native drilled the 41-yard game winner with 15 seconds remaining to hand the Cardinals their first win over the Lumberjacks since bringing back the program.
In addition to the win, the Cardinals set numerous records, in what has become a record-setting season. Junior quarterback Caleb Berry became the school's single-season leader for completions and total offense in the game, while sophomore Reggie Begelton set a new single-season record for receptions. The duo also recorded single-game records for completions and receptions.
"I'm very proud of how our team battled back to defeat SFA," said head coach Ray Woodard. "But we have to put that game behind us. We are preparing to face a very good football team. With this being the last game of the year, we have seen a lot of film on these guys while getting ready for other opponents, so we know good they are. They have a lot to play for, and will come in here ready to play."
Saturday's game takes on significance for both teams beyond the normal bragging rights of a rivalry game. The Cowboys still have an outside shot at a conference title, while Lamar is looking to set a program record for wins and record its first .500 season since bring back the program.
A week after facing the nation's top passing offense, and one of the leaders in total offense, Lamar's defense faces another tough challenge in McNeese State. The Cowboys lead the league averaging 42.5 points per contest, which sets up an interesting game within a game. Lamar's defense has been among the league's upper echelon for the whole season. The Cards continue to be led by senior Jesse Dickson. He has been ranked among the league's top-10 in tackles all season, and is the Southland's leading tackler as a lineman.
"It's a lot of the same guys making plays defensively for Lamar," said McNeese State head coach Matt Viator. "A lot of the guys in their secondary have been there for years, and I really like (defensive lineman) Jesse Dickson. He is having a tremendous year.
"I'm real impressed with quarterback Caleb Berry. You can see the work Coach Woodard and his staff have done with Caleb. He is playing at a really high level. Reggie Begelton is one of a number of good receivers at Lamar. They have some real playmakers. This is going to be a real challenge against a very athletic team."
The contest will bring added importance for several members of the Lamar football team. Twenty-five players will be suiting for the final time Saturday. The 2013 class represents the original class of players who helped resurrect the program.
"This is going to be a very emotional game," said Woodard. "The fact that we began the program against McNeese State, and these seniors get to finish their career against the Cowboys is going to be special. I just think back to what some of those guys looked like as freshman when we threw them out on the field. A lot of the same guys that are starting now, were starters back then. They have done a great job, of not only playing football, but they have done a lot of things off the field to help promote Lamar football. For them, I hope we can win this game, and I hope each one of them does something special Saturday that they will remember the rest of their lives. I'm very proud of them."