Cards fend off Incarnate Word for first SLC win

Published 10:49 am Monday, October 15, 2018

BEAUMONT — Lamar needed this victory. With a stroke of luck, the home Cardinals earned it.

Free safety Lane Taylor blocked a 40-yard Cody Seidel field goal attempt, and the ball took a big hop to cornerback Caleb Abrom, who returned it 66 yards as time expired for a seemingly unpredictable game-winning touchdown before 6,113 in Lamar’s 27-21 triumph over Incarnate Word on Saturday.

Lamar coach Mike Schultz intentionally used all three of its timeouts to ice Seidel, who had missed a kick to the right just after the second stoppage.

“I was trying to time it because I wanted him to kick it and get it called right before,” Schultz said.

“This is a program-changing win,” Lamar quarterback Darrel Colbert Jr. said. “Incarnate Word is a great team, 3-0 in the conference. They played some great opponents. They beat a team we lost to in a close game.”

Schultz was a little cautious about terming the win a program-changer.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” he said. “We’re still fighting a lot of things. This was a good win. A win’s a win, and I’m excited about it.”

The home Cardinals (2-4, 1-3 Southland) intercepted four passes, with junior cornerback and Beaumont Central graduate Garrison Mitchell earning two.

Lamar had lost is past two meetings to San Antonio’s Incarnate Word (3-3, 3-1). In more pressing matters, the Jefferson County Cardinals had not won since a 70-7 thrashing of Kentucky Christian on Sept. 1, only to come close in the next two home games.

One more lucky break each against Northwestern State (49-48 defeat) and Southeastern Louisiana (30-24 loss) would probably have Lamar at 4-2 and 3-1 in the Southland with reasonable hopes for an NCAA Division I playoff berth alive. Still, Schultz’s Cardinals earned a much-needed marquee victory.

In the process, Jawun Ruffin helped Lamar break a nearly 61-year-old record.

The junior college transfer took a screen pass from Darrel Colbert, rushed to his left, reversed field, went around right end and turned in an 89-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to tie the game at 7. The pass play is the longest in Lamar history, beating the old record of 87 from George Parks to Larry Ward on Oct. 26, 1957.

Ruffin finished with three catches for 104 yards.

Colbert completed 14 of 25 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. His second scoring strike went to Zae Giles for 40 yards early in the third quarter.

Incarnate Word’s Ra’Quanne Dickens, the Southland’s leading rusher going into the day, was held to 57 yards on 17 carries, but had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that evened the game at 14-14.

UIW true freshman Jon Copeland went 39 for 56 for 515 yards and two TDs, but Lamar’s defense otherwise gave him some growing pains.

Taylor intercepted Copeland with 14:04 left in the second quarter. That set up the one-play Lamar scoring drive, Ruffin’s 89-yard catch-and-run.

Two plays into the next UIW series, Rodney Randle Jr. earned a pick. Colbert took back-to-back sacks, however, and a 48-yard field goal attempt by Elvin Martinez went well short.

Copeland led the visiting Cardinals on a 10-play, 85-yard drive from his own 2 before Mitchell made his first steal in the end zone with 1:37 left before halftime. Lamar only went 10 yards in five plays before time expired.

Copeland, however, did drive UIW 75 yards in nine plays to knot the game at 21 with 13:28 remaining in the game.

Sophomore running back Myles Wanza had a strong performance in his first game for Lamar since a lingering shoulder injury against Texas Tech on Sept 14. Wanza went for 79 yards on 14 carries, with a long of 15 yards.