Lions roar past Cards in Southland football opener

Published 11:28 pm Saturday, September 21, 2019

HAMMOND, La. – Lamar recorded 436 yards of total offense but dropped a back-and-forth affair to Southeastern Louisiana, 45-34, Saturday evening at Strawberry Stadium. The setback dropped LU back to 2-2 in the Southland Conference opener.

Big Red finished the night with 436 yards off offense, the majority of which came through the air (303). The Lions (2-1) ended the game with 502 yards. Senior Jordan Hoy completed 14 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball 17 times for 29 yards and a score. Junior Myles Wanza led the Cardinals rushing effort with 13 carries for 60 yards and a score.

Junior Kirkland Banks was the primary recipient of Hoy’s passing efforts recording one of the best nights of his career. The Lake Charles native hauled in five passes for 112 yards. Junior Kenny Allen had two receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown catch.

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Senior Nate Jones and freshman Anthony Ruffin led the Cardinals’ defensive effort with nine stops. One of Ruffin’s tackles went for a loss.

The defenses dominated for nearly the first 10 minutes of the game before the Cardinals cracked the scoreboard first. Hoy broke through the Southeastern line to score from 19 yards out to cap a six-play, 64-yard drive that consumed 2:26 off the clock. The Lions answered on their very next possession as Devonte Williams finished off an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 12-yard run for the score.

Second play of the next drive Hoy hit Case Robinson wide open over the middle for 56 yards to move LU down to the Lions’ 6-yard line. Big Red capitalized on the very next play when junior A.J. Walker carried the ball right up the middle for the score. Walker carried two defenders the across the goal line to reclaim the lead, 14-7. Unfortunately, SLU answered with a quick score of its own on the ensuing possession when Austin Mitchell took a Chason Virgil pass 58 yards for the score.

After both teams forced punts, the Cardinals reclaimed a seven-point advantage when Hoy guided the Red and White on a four-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard pass to Allen. The drive also included a 26-yard pass from Hoy to Banks.

Big Red’s defense forced a punt but the Lions downed the ball at the LU two. After two runs and an incomplete pass the Cardinals were forced to punt it right back but Enrique Carmona’s punt was blocked and recovered by SLU in the red zone. Three plays later the Lions tied the game back up at 21. The Cardinals managed to reclaim the lead heading into the locker room as junior Bailey Giffen drilled a 38-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining to close the half.

After a slow start to the game, the Cardinals racked up nearly 300 yards of total offense in the opening half, including 219 through the air. Hoy accounted for 254 of LU’s total offense yards (35 rushing) and two touchdowns (one rushing one passing). SLU finished the opening 30 minutes with 223 yards of offense.

Southeastern opened the second half with 14 unanswered points to build an 11-point advantage but the Cardinals finally stopped the run with 3:56 remaining in the third when Giffen came on the field to save a drive by booting a career-long 47 yard field goal to trim the deficit to eight, 35-27. Unfortunately, LU was unable to come up with a stop as the Lions drove right back down the field for their third touchdown of the quarter.

Trailing 42-27, the Cardinals fought right back down the field when Wanza took a pitch from Hoy to score from 3 yards out. The play trimmed the deficit back to eight, 42-34. The TD capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive that took 3:52 off the clock. The score was set up by a 29-yard pass to Sikes and a roughing the passer penalty. The Cardinals got the ball back one more time but were unable to score and SLU tacked on a field goal late for the final tally.

The Cardinals will be back in action Saturday when they return home to host Stephen F. Austin for Homecoming. The game against SFA will kick off at 6 p.m. from Provost Umphrey Stadium. It can be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI and will be televised on ESPN+.

Lamar sports information