Earlier today, the Lamar Cardinals traveled to Hammond to face the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. The game started off with both teams scoring quick, but Lamar was able to dominate in the first half, with four takeaways. SLU held off Lamar, shutting them out in the second half, but in the end, the Lions lost by a score of 30-24.
The game opened with SLU receiving the football first. Eli Sawyer came out to start at quarterback, as expected, and after the first play was an incompletion towards Jaylon Domingeaux, the second play of the game was a 58-yard reception on a swing pass by Harlan Dixon. After a couple more short carries and an incompletion intended for Bauer Sharp, the Lions settled for a field goal.
Lamar started their first drive, and quarterback Robert Coleman found receiver Andre Dennis for a 9-yard catch on the Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage. Coleman was then able to find Kyndon Fuselier for a 1st down to continue driving. Lamar reached field goal range, and after a sack from Javen Sanchez on 3rd down, Lamar settled for the field goal, and after a drive apiece, the score stood at 3-3.
Sawyer came out and started the second drive, and Rodeo Graham Jr started the drive in the backfield. He took the first play of the drive for no gain on a pitch. After a false start, Sawyer was able to connect with Xavier Hill for the 1st of several times in the half, this catch for 32 yards. Sawyer found Corey Lorio for his first catch of the game, and then Deandre Jackson entered, for a 3-yard carry. Sawyer then connected with Darius Lewis for a 28-yard touchdown in the endzone. This was perhaps the flashiest and most exciting start for the Lions on offense all season.
Lamar’s Major Bowden brought out the return to around the 40-yardline, but a penalty brought the line of scrimmage back. On 1st down, Donald Clay laid a huge hit on Coleman, whose pass was incomplete. Another penalty forced Lamar back to their own 8-yardline, where a punt ensued after a 3-and-out.
Lewis returned the favor with a return into SLU territory; however, offsetting penalties made for a replay of 4th down. A short re-punt allowed SLU take over at the 50-yardline, and Graham was able to take the first play to the house… until a penalty brought the play back. A carry by Sharp lost 3 yards on 1st and 8, and then Sawyer was sacked. However, he was brought down by the facemask, so the Lions gained a first down. Just when it looked like the offense may carve out a decent drive, sawyer was sacked by Jalen Freeman, and the football came loose. KJ Gilbert scooped up the ball at Lamar’s 40-yardline and ran it 60 yards for the score.
SLU came out to restart their drive and hold any momentum they may have had, but after an 18-yard catch by Hill that ended the first quarter, Sawyer threw an interception straight to Kevin Anderson. Donte’ Daniels delivered a nasty hit on the running back on the ensuing drive, which was a three-and-out. Lamar punted.
Zachary Clement started the next drive, likely due to the disappointing outcome of the previous drive. After a 30-yard bootleg by Clement, who then found Lewis for a 21-yard catch down the sideline, SLU looked poised to score. After a couple short plays, the Lions found themselves with a 4th and 5 situation, and the offense dialed up a pass. Sawyer never threw the ball, though, as he was sacked for a 9-yard loss by Siale Suilafu.
On the next Lamar drive, Cameron George caught a pair of 13-yard passes, and Khalan Griffin was able to pick up a 1st on a chunk play. Lamar found themselves on the 4-yardline, where Major Bowden was able to punch the ball in for a quick rushing touchdown.
A low, weird kickoff led to a scramble for the football, which was safely recovered by Cyrus Zuell, the designated kick returner for the Lions. Sawyer started the drive, and was able to find Sharp for an open play over the top, but Sharp couldn’t hang on. After a 3-yard carry by Jackson, and an incomplete pass, Austin Dunlap entered to punt.
On the ensuing drive, Bowden broke away for a 38-yard touchdown that was called back due to holding, a common instance throughout the game. After a short gain, Coleman stepped up and delivered a 37-yard bomb to Sevonne Rhea. The PAT was no good. SLU took over, and on a pass intended for Domingeaux, the ball was tipped and intercepted by Canden Grogan. On a nearly identical play to the last scoring possession, Coleman found Rhea again, for a 37-yard touchdown, on almost the same spot on the field.
Sawyer started the next drive, finding Hill for a 38-yard catch on the first play. However, Sawyer was then sacked by Suilafu, and fumbled. Caleb Williams recovered, and Sawyer was slow to stand up, obviously in pain around his chest as he walked to the sideline. Lamar ran a short run play up the middle and took the game to halftime. Sawyer would not return for the second half. The score at halftime was 30-10, Lamar.
The opening drive of the 2nd half for Lamar ended with a sack by Arlen Williams on 3rd and 7, and the following SLU drive didn’t muster much. Coleman was able to find Rhea for a 24-yard play up the middle on Lamar’s next drive, which ended on another 3rd down sack, this time by Josh Randall.
The Lions took over and after a drive which saw passes to Sharp, Graham, Hill, and Lewis. Bauer Sharp was able to rush for a 7-yard touchdown on a direct snap. After a Lamar punt on their next possession, SLU took over. Maurice Massey was able to haul in his first catch of the season, in his season debut. On a play from Lamar’s 19, Clement was rushed out of the pocket. It looked like he may run out of bounds, or throw the ball away, but he was able to connect with Lewis on a wobbly-but-accurate pass, for Lewis’ second score on the day.
Coleman was able to connect with Dennis on a 42-yard 50/50 ball down the sideline. Lamar later punted, and the Lions took control for the final time this game. Da’shun Hugley was able to find 16 yards on a catch on 3rd and 4, but after a dropped pass by Jacob Logan and two unsuccessful running plays, SLU made a perhaps questionable decision to punt with several minutes left to play, on a 4th and 5 from around midfield.
Lamar took over, and after a ridiculous catch in traffic by Dennis, and a lengthy drive besides, Lamar was able to run the clock down to 0:04 before they were forced to punt. Lewis fielded the kick, but had nowhere to run, and nobody to lateral the football to, and Lamar walked off with the victory. The Cardinals improve to 4-3, 3-0 in-conference, under first-year head coach Pete Rossomando. The Lions fall to 0-7, 0-3 in-conference, in 2023.
Sawyer completed 9/16 passes for 210 yards and 1 touchdown with 2 interceptions, and Clement finished 12/18 for 141 yards and a touchdown, adding 8 carries for 58 yards, leading the Lions in rushing. Rodeo Graham Jr took 9 carries for 30 yards, and Harlan Dixon ran 5 times for just 2 yards, but also catching 2 passes for 73 yards. Xavier Hill caught 4 balls for 106 yards, and Lewis totaled 4 for 76 yards, including the two touchdown catches. Herman Christophe IV and Ian Conerly-Goodly tied for the team lead in tackles, with 8 apiece.
For Lamar, Robert Coleman completed 17/22 passes for 257 yards and 2 touchdowns. Khalan Griffin, by far, led the Cardinals in rushing, with 23 carries for 73 yards. Sevonne Rhea led the Cardinals in both catches and receiving yards, with 6 for 133, plus the two touchdowns. Andre Dennis also had a nice day, with 5 for 86 through the air. Josh Ofili led Lamar with 8 tackles.
The attendance for this game was 4,152 for the Lions’ homecoming game. Next week, SLU travels to Natchitoches to face off with Northwestern State, while Lamar returns home to Beaumont to take on Incarnate Word.