BEAUMONT — After opening its Southland Conference football season with a home loss to Southeastern Louisiana last Saturday, Lamar University will look to even its league record when the Cardinals travel to Turpin Stadium to take on Northwestern State. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
The Demons, who opened conference action with a 30-22 loss at No. 18 McNeese State last Saturday, are also looking to get back to the .500 mark with a victory. Both teams carry identical 2-3 overall records into Saturday evening’s contest.
"They're a team that's going to be tough to beat,” said LU head coach Ray Woodard. “They're kind of in the same boat we are. They're coming off a disappointing loss like us. They don't want to go two down, we don't want to go two down, so it's going to be two teams that really want to get back on track and stay in the middle of this thing (the Southland race)."
Saturday’s game will be televised on tape delay by Fox 4 in the Beaumont area at 9:30 p.m. The contest between the Cardinals and Demons will also be streamed on ESPN3 for live viewing and, as always, can be heard live on KLVI 560 AM with Harold Mann providing the play-by-play and former LU linebacker Bo Brown serving as analyst.
This will be the 15th meeting between the two schools as four-year institutions with the Cardinals holding a slim 7-6-1 advantage. NSU has won three of the last four meetings, however, including a 37-17 win last season in Beaumont.
Last year’s matchup featured 903 yards of combined offense with 650 yards coming through the air. Former Lamar wide receiver J.J. Hayes set a school record with 212 receiving yards. Hayes would finish with 10 catches, including a 40-yard touchdown reception, in the loss.
LU quarterback Andre Bevil finished 22-of-43 for 360 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions. NSU, which led 27-7 at the half, got a 290-yard, three-touchdown passing performance from quarterback Brad Henderson.
Despite last week’s setback, Lamar still leads the Southland Conference in total defense and pass defense. Lamar, which is third in scoring defense at 25.0 points per game allowed, is giving up 299.0 yards per game and just 162.6 per game through the air.
Junior linebacker Jermaine Longino is coming off a 13-tackle performance against Southeastern Louisiana. The junior college All-America leads the Cards with 40 total tackles and his 8.0 stops per game rank fourth in the league.
Offensively, the Cardinals have not been as effective. Lamar is scoring just 17.0 points per game to rank eighth in the league and the Cardinals are producing 264.8 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Ryan Mossakowski struggled against the Lions as he threw four interceptions. Mossakowski, who had thrown just one interception before last Saturday’s contest, is still an impressive 87-of-140 on the year for 795 yards and seven touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Herschel Sims leads the Cardinals’ ground game with 216 yards on 59 carries this season. Sims, who is also third on the team with 10 receptions, also leads Lamar with a pair of touchdown runs.
"Brad Henderson really makes them go,” said Woodard about the NSU offense. “He's kind of the catalyst that makes them go. Their receiving corps, as far as their numbers, are a lot like us. Henderson really spreads the ball around to a number of people. There's not just one go-to guy with great numbers but they do a good job of getting the ball all over the place. They're very versatile in what they do.
"Defensively, their middle linebacker (Derek) Rose, I'm very impressed with him. Their big tackle Lesley Deamer in the middle is playing well as well as strong safety Jamaal White. Phillip Harvey may be the best return man in the league. He looks very good on film so they have some weapons they can use."
As a team, NSU is ranked sixth in both total offense and scoring offense in the Southland. The Demons are picking up 320.0 yards per game and scoring just under 28 points per game.
The Demons’ defense has yielded over 415 yards per game and is ranked sixth in the conference in points allowed at 31.4. NSU ranks last in the league in rushing defense at 222.8 yards allowed per outing.
Henderson is 91-of-156 for 959 yards on the season. The senior has eight touchdown passes and only one interception and also leads the team with 160 yards rushing. Senior wide receiver Phillip Harvey leads the team with 15 catches for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
NSU has three players with at least 40 tackles, led by junior linebacker Patrick Black with 46. Rose has 45 and senior safety Jamaal White has 41. Safety Cortez Paige leads the Southland Conference with three interceptions, including returning one for a score.