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Earp, Minden to share time rest of season, Woodard says

SOUTHLAND FOOTBALL: NICHOLLS STATE (1-7) AT LAMAR (4-4)

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Provost Umphrey Stadium, Beaumont

• Radio: KLVI-AM 560

• Southland records: Lamar 3-3, Nicholls State 1-5

• Series record: Lamar leads 6-1; last meeting, Lamar won 63-24 in 2014

BEAUMONT — Two days after Carson Earp made his return to the football field, Lamar coach Ray Woodard found himself fielding the same question he often heard to start the season.

No, it wasn’t: “Who’s starting?” And, no, Woodard didn’t give an answer to that.

It was: “What’s your plan with your two quarterbacks, coach?”

“We’ll continue to play both of them the rest of the year,” Woodard said.

Given that Earp hadn’t played in nearly an entire month with a shoulder injury, the answer wasn’t vague. It just didn’t address who would start future games.

Earp shined in the middle of the Houston rain during his comeback Saturday. He ran eight times for 86 yards and a touchdown and completed 2 of 3 passes for 36 yards in Lamar’s 55-7 pounding of Houston Baptist. He last played Oct. 1 at Southeastern Louisiana, when he was knocked out with a shoulder injury.

Joe Minden, who finished that game at quarterback and went 2-2 as a starter since then, threw for 208 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions to end the Cardinals’ two-game slide. Devonn Brown was the biggest benefactor, tallying a season-high 130 yards and two TDs on five catches in the absence of LU career receptions and receiving yards leader Reggie Begelton.

For Minden it was a great rebound from his five-interception performance in the Oct. 24 home loss to Central Arkansas, when Begelton hurt one of his knees. The knee kept swelling when Begelton tried to practice on it Thursday, and he was ruled out for HBU.

“The first thing I was looking for, Joe bounced back with an impressive performance,” Woodard said. “Good decisions. And Joe needed that. He works extremely hard at what he does.”

Woodard said the second thing he looked for was the Cards to improve their run defense. Ranked seventh in the Southland Conference at 204.5 yards per game allowed, Lamar had its third-best game this season in that category, holding HBU to 87. Offensively Lamar ran for 324, getting 192 from Kade Harrington, as the junior broke Burton Murchison’s single-season record of 1,547 from 1985 by 3 yards.

“I thought Saturday, it became apparent during the game that we had a more talented team than they had, but I was still proud of the way our team played,” Woodard said. “No big plays over the top of the defense, solid special teams and we played a much cleaner game and closer to mistake-free game, and we had kind of gotten away from that.”

Lamar, at times, struggled to respond in crucial points of the losses to Northwestern State and Central Arkansas, but Woodard dismissed effort as the reason for the Cards’ troubles during the slide.

“It’s technique, assignment and discipline to run the play called,” he said. “Sometimes, defensively, when you’re behind and you get frustrated, you become undisciplined and you tend to do more than you should. You try to do someone else’s job and you end up not doing yours.

“It comes down to discipline more than anything else.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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