MURRELL COLUMN: Morse, Krautz bring madness to Lamar

Published 11:30 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Editor’s note: I.C. Murrell’s weekly column usually appears on Fridays. This edition, however, reflects on a local connection for Lamar’s football team as it faces Nicholls State on Thursday night in Thibodaux, La.

What seemed to be a curse that struck Lamar football might have been a blessing in disguise for Adam Morse.

When Case Robinson went down with a broken bone in his throwing hand, the Cardinals were forced to end Morse’s campaign for a redshirt season and put him in the game. The good news for the true freshman from Port Neches-Groves was that he had 10 minutes and 35 seconds left to try and will the Cardinals from a 24-10 hole at Provost Umphrey Stadium.

“I think it’s a good thing to get your first experience done before your first start,” Morse said. “The first experience being your first start is a lot more nerve-wracking than getting on the field into a game when it’s already started.”

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That’s coming from a player who saw varsity time as a freshman at PNG and totaled 67 touchdowns and almost 6,000 yards passing his final two seasons on The Reservation.
On this night, Morse reached the big time in Southeast Texas football —quarterbacking a Division I team.

Neither he nor his roommate, freshman running back Austin Krautz of Nederland, envisioned being together in the same backfield so soon, almost a full year after they opposed each other just a few miles down the road in a high school rivalry game.

Really, Morse had nothing to lose Saturday. He was called into action late when Lamar was already in a two-touchdown hole.

Still, he wanted to calm his nerves enough to attempt the Cardinals’ second fourth-quarter comeback this year.

“Everybody’s nervous the first play in college,” Morse said. “Thankfully, coach [and offensive coordinator Chuck] Livingston gave me a running play the first play. After that, I was steady rolling.”

The first play, Krautz rushed four yards to the Houston Baptist 42. He was on his way to a career-high 114 rushing yards.

Morse then threw incomplete to DeWan Thompson, and Hamshire-Fannett true freshman Kendrick King rushed for no gain.

“I just told him to settle down, dominate and play the game,” said Krautz, already seven games logged into his career. “I knew he overthrew [Thompson]. … I just let him know, ‘Don’t freak out.’”

Morse apparently didn’t. On fourth-and-6, he fired complete to Zae Giles for 11 yards.

Three plays and two incompletions later, Morse found Michael Handy down 20 yards to the Huskies’ 8. The next snap, Morse connected with Thompson for a touchdown.

Extra point good, HBU 24, Lamar 17. Morse brought the crowd back into their own homecoming.
Morse still had the keys to the offense and nearly did the unthinkable … for a freshman who just had to give up his redshirt, of course. He drove Lamar 55 yards to the HBU 16 and stared a fourth-and-7, only for Chris Hardeman to bat down a pass intended for Thompson in the end zone.

Still, Morse made believers out of his teammates. And tweets of his name skyrocketed in a matter of minutes.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time,” Krautz said about anticipating the moment he and Morse would line up together for the Cardinals.

Football players since they were 8 and competing in the same youth league, they hardly took any reps together in practice during the season, as Morse was expected to wait a year and

Krautz steadily moved up the chart thanks to the departure of Keegan Mitchell and season-ending injury to Kade Harrington.

Fate couldn’t have it any better for Mid-County.

Morse and Krautz will start together Thursday night when Lamar visits a Nicholls State team that nearly defeated Georgia earlier this season. The odds are not in the banged-up Cardinals’ favor, but this latest development has just added more Mid-County Madness surrounding a high school football game that will kick off the following night in Morse’s stomping ground. The same game Krautz’s old team has won each of the past six years.

No, the significance isn’t lost on Austin or Adam.

“That actually comes up more than you think,” Krautz said. “[Morse] usually brings up something about high school football. But [the Bum Phillips Bowl Trophy] is what I always go back to.”

Morse said the pair has not talked about Nederland vs. PNG.

“We’re worried about Lamar Cardinals, now,” Morse said. “We’ll be there Friday. We’re going to try to get [a seat somewhere] in the middle.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews.

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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