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Morse leading hurting Lamar through fire

INCARNATE WORD-LAMAR MATCHUP

Offense

• UIW: 345 yards per game (111.6 rushing, 233.4 passing); leaders Broderick Reeves (senior RB, 416 yards and 5 TDs on 105 carries); Trent Brittain (junior QB, 1,767 yards and 13 TDs on 141-of-285 passing with 5 interceptions; Kody Edwards (junior WR, 592 yards and 7 TDs on 33 carries)

• Lamar: 341.1 yards per game (149.7 rushing, 191.4 passing); leaders Austin Krautz (freshman RB, 277 yards and 1 TD on 89 carries), Adam Morse (freshman QB, 309 yards and 2 TDs on 26-of-51 passing with 1 interception) and Zae Giles (sophomore WR, 420 yards and 4 TDs on 39 receptions)

Defense

• UIW: 481.9 total yards per game (199.8 rushing, 282.1 passing); leaders Josh Zellars (senior LB, 68 tackles, 1.5 for losses, 1 fumble recovery), Sean Hoeferkamp (junior DB, 60 tackles, 4 break-ups) and Joel Higgins (senior LB, 57 tackles, 4.5 for losses, 3 sacks, 1 blocked kick)

• Lamar: 413 total yards per game (251.2 rushing, 161.8 passing); leaders Brendan Langley (senior CB, 6 inteerceptions, 49 yards returned, 4 break-ups), Xavier Bethany (senior DB, 85 tackles, 3 interceptions, 3 break-ups) and Cameron Hampton (sophomore LB, 80 tackles, 65 for losses, 1 sack)

Sound bytes

• Lamar coach Ray Woodard, on the bad snaps by center Matt Oubre that effectively ended drives into the red zone: “His mechanics [were the problem]. He’s out there playing with a bad leg. He does not do a lot of that in practice. He’s a two-year starter, and he’s only done that twice. It was a tough thing to watch.”

The freshman year tends to be the hardest for many collegians, but Lamar quarterback Adam Morse has embraced it.

A true freshman from Port Neches-Groves, Morse has gone from redshirting to playing in the past two ballgames, nearly leading the Cardinals to victory in his first attempt. Coach Ray Woodard has taken notice that Morse, the fifth quarterback he’s used this season, hasn’t shown his young age on the field despite two losses.

“It’s tough when you’re 18 and you’re on the road, you’re getting knocked around a little bit,” Woodard said, looking back on Lamar’s 35-10 defeat against Nicholls State last week. “You get behind and things aren’t going your way as a team. He handled himself, and he played the whole game.”

Making his first start on the road wasn’t the only obstacle for Morse. Lamar had to prepare for Nicholls State in a five-day turnaround.

Morse just completed more than 50 percent of his passes in Thibodaux, La., going 19 for 37 for 255 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked three times.

He’s 26 for 51 for 309 yards and two TDs on the season. He replaced the injured Case Robinson for the final two drives of a homecoming loss to Houston Baptist and led his first touchdown drive.

Morse completed his second scoring drive with 3:14 left at Nicholls State, firing a 13-yard pass to Zae Giles.

“I was proud to see him lead the team down the field late and get a touchdown,” Woodard said. “He could have given up or gotten discouraged, but for a kid his age, he showed a lot of composure and a lot of maturity.”

The Cardinals (3-6, 3-4 Southland) are left with the challenge of salvaging their fourth five-win season since relaunching the program under Woodard in 2010. But they’ve endured plenty of injuries over the past season; the latest struck sophomore cornerback Rodney Randle in practice Tuesday and ended his season.

Nineteen senior players will be honored today in their final home game against Incarnate Word (1-8, 1-6), which has endured a difficult fifth season under former LU coach Larry Kennan.

“Incarnate Word reminds me a lot of Northwestern State in that their record doesn’t reflect their talent,” Woodard said. “They may not have won a lot of games, but they have been in every one this season. They’re looking at us this week thinking they have a good chance to win, so we know they will come in here fired up and ready to play.”

UIW’s offense has struggled in the rushing game with Broderick Reeves’ 49.6 yards per game leading the team. Trent Brittain has thrown for 1,767 yards and 13 touchdowns, but has shared time with Taylor Laird, who’s totaled 334 yards and 3 TDs on 20-of-41 passing.

The 2016 Lamar senior class can match last year’s group as the winningest four-year class under Woodard with their 22nd victory today. Only a visit to McNeese State next Saturday remains on the schedule.

The present seniors can be remembered for producing 2015 Southland Conference player of the year Kade Harrington, who has been injured since the Oct. 15 comeback win over Northwestern State. Asked about the legacy Harrington and his classmates left, Woodard wasn’t ready to talk about it.

“I would want the legacy to be that they finished good this year and led this team,” he said. “Talk about a streaky year. We lost three, won three and lost three. Ask me that after the end of the year.”

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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