Beaten by the border: Cards’ upset bid, winning season falls through

Published 12:31 am Sunday, November 22, 2015

BEAUMONT — No. 2-ranked McNeese State made its share of miscues, and Lamar rarely capitalized.
Kade Harrington was held to fewer than 100 yards rushing for the first time in nine games. Lamar’s defense stayed on the field for 39 minutes, 13 seconds.
And now, a second straight winning season for Cardinals has failed to come to fruition.
McNeese State wrapped up its fifth unbeaten regular season in school history
Saturday night with a 20-14 victory in the latest Battle of the Border at Provost
Umphrey Stadium, capping Lamar’s sixth season since its football rebirth at 5-6. A year ago, a 30-27 upset of the Cowboys capped an 8-4 record for the Cardinals, their only winning season since 2010.
“I’m disappointed,” Lamar coach Ray Woodard said. “We had an opportunity to win a football game. But at the same time, I’m very proud of our effort.”
Joe Minden saw most of the action in his final collegiate game at quarterback, but completed only 9 of 24 passes for 114 yards and a score.
“I’m just extremely proud of the way the team fought tonight one last time this season, for four quarters,” Minden said. “Everywhere, we hit a lot of adversity, but people were still playing everywhere, getting after them, creating turnovers. We struggled at first, but we fought to the last minute.
“This has been a long year, but it seems it just flew by.”
Lamar (5-6, 4-5 Southland) made it interesting with less than 5 minutes left when
Devonn Brown floated behind a defender and made a 32-yard turnaround catch in the end zone. Along with the extra kick, those were the only points the Cards could muster in the second half after trailing 17-7.
After that, Lamar never saw the ball again.
Tavarious Battiste made a vertical leap to bring down a 14-yard catch on third-and-10 to the McNeese 28. Ryan Ross converted third down twice with runs of 13 and 25 yards, all part of a 19-carry, 130-yard night, and McNeese ran out the clock on Lamar’s season.
The majority of the remainder of the 9,808 who attended Saturday night were pro-
Cowboys, but that was the case with nearly 11 minutes left and the visitors still leading by 10 points. They witnessed McNeese (10-0, 9-0) outgain Lamar 443-176 in total yards and have three players each carry 19 times for more than 100 yards.
Derrick Milton had a game-high 138 yards and quarterback Daniel Sams rushed for 104 with a touchdown.
As for Lamar, national rushing leader Kade Harrington was held to 70 yards on 17 carries. Six of his previous eight games went for 200 or more yards, including an NCAA season-high 347 on Abilene Christian.
Things could have snowballed pretty fast on the Cardinals, but it was only windy on this November night.
Jayce Nelson dropped a fair catch on McNeese State’s opening-possession punt, but the Cowboys only scored a field goal off of it. Dedrick Garner recovered a David
Bush fumble forced by Bear Christianson and returned it 66 yards to give Lamar a 7-
3 lead. The next drive, Bush broke off a 49-yard gain to set up Ross’ 26-yard scoring run.
Struggling to stop the run all night, Sams busted a 32-yard dash near the end of the first period to push the lead to 17-7.
McNeese tried to expand it, but failed until the fourth period. Seth Ellis and Garner stopped placeholder Erik Jones on a bobbled snap in field-goal formation in the second quarter, and Jean Breaux pushed a 29-yard attempt wide right as time expired in the period.
On fourth-and-goal from the 2 late in the third, Sams bounced off a defender and rolled right, but fumbled on contact by Seth Ellis before he got to the end zone. The ball rolled out of bounds, but Lamar was forced three-and-out with a penalty.
All of a sudden, the 10-point hole for Lamar was manageable.
Port Neches-Groves graduate Chris Stroud and former sports information director
Rush Wood were honored at halftime Saturday night along with former volleyball and track athlete Cassi Presley Riedel for their induction into the Lamar Sports Hall of Honor, which was held earlier in the afternoon.
Stroud, who competes on the PGA Tour, is the only four-time Southland Conference Golfer of the Year ever. He won three Southland Conference titles and was named
PING All-American twice.
Wood was SID for Lamar from 1979-91 and from 2009-12, writing for the Port
Arthur News in between. Wood helped oversee the return of football to Lamar in
Riedel was named All-American South Conference in volleyball in the late 1980s and was the 1988 indoor and outdoor ASC champion in the high jump.

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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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