Lamar stuns Bearkats in SLC play, 41-23

Published 10:04 am Monday, October 22, 2018

BEAUMONT — If one game doesn’t change a program, beating a ranked conference opponent on top of a miraculous win shows a long-awaited change in the direction of Lamar football.

Sophomore Myles Wanza turned in the biggest performance of his college career and rushed 15 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Cardinals to a 41-23 win over 14th-ranked Sam Houston State.

“I told them I’ve been doing this 37 years, and I don’t think I’ve been quite as proud of a football team as I am this one,” he said.

Schultz has rejected any idea of one game — namely Lamar’s 27-21 win over Incarnate Word last Saturday thanks to Caleb Abrom’s 66-yard blocked kick return — being a “program-changer” or “statement win,” but the Cardinals (3-4, 2-3) are moving in a different direction from a four-game losing streak. The Cards have won two straight for the first time since winning three in a row during the 2016 season, one that ended with five straight losses and resulted in Ray Woodard’s firing.

Schultz remarked earlier this week the program changed when he was hired that December. With Saturday’s victory, Lamar does have one more win than last season — with four games remaining.

“Football’s a one-week-at-a-time deal,” Schultz said. “As good as this is, just like last week, it was great. The way we won it was great. We won on the last play, and it was great. … Nothing changes. The process stays the same.”

Wanza led a rushing attack that produced 435 of the Cards’ 566 total yards. The Cards were 19 rushing yards shy of a 58-year-old record set against Mexico Tech.

A.J. Walker had 23 carries for 121 yards.

“To me, I believe we’re the best running backs in the conference,” Wanza said. “It’s just going to take time for people to start noticing us. We’re like thunder and lightning.”

After the game, Wanza and several Cardinals led the Lamar band in celebrating the upset.

“It’s a feeling you can never just stop thinking of, like when-you-get-your-first-kiss type of thing,” he said. “It’s like, wow, we just really did this. We just beat Sam. That just shows like, Lamar’s got a lot coming.”

Sam Houston State (4-3, 3-2) leaned heavily on the pass with freshman Ty Brock, who completed 27 of 56 passes for 303 yards and two scores. The Cardinals contained the Bearkats’ rushing offense to 79 yards, led by Kyran Jackson’s 50 yards on 13 carries.

“I thought the defense might have played their best game of the year, myself,” Schultz said. “They did a nice job against a team that can run the ball pretty well.”

Darrel Colbert, who completed 6 of 11 passes for 41 yards and rushed 12 times for 63 yards and two TDs, left the game after scoring on an 8-yard carry with 12:51 left in the third quarter to expand a 17-13 halftime lead. He wore a protective boot after the game and said he wasn’t sure of the extent of the injury.

Jordan Hoy took over and led the Cardinals in passing with 90 yards, completing 2 of 3.

“We were running the ball, and we felt good that we could keep handing the ball off and keep making plays with our backs,” Schultz said. “… And then Jordan, he’s elusive, he’s fast and he can run. He did some things.”

Lamar went up 27-13 after Elvin Martinez’s second field goal, but the Bearkats clawed back with a 2-yard Kyran Jackson carry and 40-yard Tre Honshtein field goal.

Hoy’s 38-yard strike to Isaiah Howard came one play after Wanza rushed 35 yards to bump Lamar’s lead to 34-23.

Hoy’s other completion went for 52 yards to Mason Sikes to the Bearkats’ 15. Three plays later, Hoy carried 7 yards for a touchdown. Hoy had 33 yards on six rushes.

“I don’t think there was any pressure,” Hoy said. “We prepare the same each week. I was prepared to go in, in case Darrel went down, and I knew I had to go in, step up and help this team out to get this win.”

Lamar will visit Stephen F. Austin next Saturday, with kickoff at 3 p.m., and stay on the road with a trip to Central Arkansas on Nov. 3. The Cards have one home game remaining, Nov. 10 against Houston Baptist.

SHSU will host Southeastern Louisiana at 1 p.m. next Saturday.