PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

October 25, 2013

LU looking for first SLC victory at Nicholls

HAMMOND, La. — After back-to-back disappointments to start the Southland Conference season, Lamar will look to get back on the winning track tonight when it travels to Southeastern Louisiana to face the Lions.

  Lamar is facing a tough task as the Lions are one of the nation’s most underrated teams. The Lions enter the week with a 5-2 (.714) overall record and a perfect 2-0 mark in Southland Conference play after knocking off Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State. SLU has rattled off four consecutive wins.

 The Cardinals are 3-4 (.429) overall, but have found a great deal of success in Hammond, La., since bringing back the program. Lamar defeated the Lions in Hammond in 2010 and 2011.

  “Obviously, our guys aren’t happy about being 0-2 in the league,” said Lamar head coach Ray Woodard. “But we have to put that game behind us because we are going to face an extremely talented team in Southeastern Louisiana. You can’t step on the field thinking about last week or Southeastern will make you pay.

  “Coach (Ron) Roberts has gone into Hammond and done an excellent job in a very short time. He, and his staff, always have their kids ready to play, but he has also done a fine job in recruiting, to go along with some very talented transfers,” added Woodard.

  The Lions offense has been sparked this season by 6-3, 200-pound quarterback Bryan Bennett. A transfer from Oregon, Bennett is currently third in the Southland in total offense averaging better than 273 yards per game. He has completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,475 yards (seven touchdowns), and also leads the team averaging 62 yards rushing per game.

  “This is a very dangerous team,” said Woodard. “Everyone knows how good they are offensively, but if you look at the film, and then see that they held Stephen F. Austin to only 14 points it lets you know they are every bit as talented on the defensive end. Combine that with the fact that they have the nation’s top return man, and it’s hard to find any weaknesses. I don’t know why they are not in the top 25.”

  Defensively, the Loins are holding opponents to 388 yards of total offense per game, while surrendering less than 22 points per game. The Lions’ defense is led by Kevin Harmon, Theo Alexander and Drew Misita who have each recorded 36 tackles on the season.

  Lamar also brings a strong defense into the contest. The Cardinals enter Saturday’s game with the Southland’s most intimidating defense. Lamar leads the league in total defense (325.1 ypg), pass defense (153.6 ypg) and scoring defense (20.3). The defense is being led by Houston senior Jesse Dickson. He is currently ranked sixth in the Southland in total tackles, but he is the only defensive lineman among the league’s top 20 in tackles. Dickson has become very recognizable in the opposing backfield as well leading the league in tackles for losses (9.5), and currently tied for second in sacks (5.0).

  “Lamar is a very good football team,” said SLU’s Coach Roberts. “They grab your attention as soon as you turn on the film. Our sights are firmly on Lamar.”

  Lamar junior quarterback Caleb Berry may have found a new favorite target in sophomore Reggie Begelton. The Beaumont native hauled in 11 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns against Central Arkansas, all of which were career highs for Begelton. He is currently third in the league averaging 5.6 receptions per game and eighth in the league with nearly 60 receiving yards per game.

  A couple of factors that could play heavily into Saturday’s matchup could be penalties and turnovers. The Cardinals are becoming known as a team that does not make many mistakes throughout the course of a game, while Southeastern has struggled in both areas at different times of the season. Lamar is the league’s least penalized team, and ranks second in the conference in turnover margin, while the Lions rank near the bottom in both categories, including seventh in turnover margin.

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