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Cards beat UIW on last-second kick return

 LU’s A.J. Walker, 27, below, runs the ball for a first down during Lamar’s 27-21 win over UIW at Provost Umphrey Stadium, Saturday. UP photo by Abigail Pennington
LU’s A.J. Walker, 27, below, runs the ball for a first down during Lamar’s 27-21 win over UIW at Provost Umphrey
Stadium, Saturday. UP photo by Abigail Pennington

In a game defined by a crucial defensive play, the Lamar Cardinals were victorious, Saturday, beating the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals, 27-21 at Provost Umphrey Stadium.

Lamar defensive back Lane Taylor broke through the line to block a 40-yard, game-defining field goal attempt by UIW kicker Cody Seidel with 12 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 21. LU junior back Caleb Abrom scooped up the loose ball and returned it 66-yards for the game-winning touchdown.

“I am excited for the kids,” LU head coach Mike Schultz said. “Believe it or not, before the actual kick, the defense decided they were going to block the kick, scoop it up and score. It was an exciting moment for our kids and fans.”

Incarnate Word scored less than five minutes into the game with a 50-yard pass from quarterback Jon Copeland to receiver Lamont Johnson. For the remainder of the quarter, both teams traded possessions, recovering fumbles on both sides, leaving the visiting Cardinals with possession to end the first quarter, 7-0, in their favor.

In the second quarter, Lamar’s Taylor picked off a pass from Copeland to give Lamar momentum going into their next drive. On the very next play, LU quarterback Darrel Colbert, Jr., threw a program record-breaking 89-yard pass to junior receiver Juwan Ruffin to tie the game at 7. The 89-yard pass beat a previous record of 87 yards, set in the 1957 season by quarterback George Parks to Larry Ward. The rest of the second saw both teams scoreless.

In the third quarter, the Lamar Cardinals scored on their opening drive with a six-play, 75-yard effort that ended with Colbert passing to junior receiver Zae Giles for 40-yards giving Lamar the edge over UIW, 14-7. The visiting UIW Cardinals scored eight minutes later on a one-yard rush by running back Ra’Quanne Dickens to end the third tied at 14.

In the fourth quarter, the Cardinals were back on the board three minutes later with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Colbert calling his own number for a yard to retake the lead. Unfortunately, UIW would strike back on their next possession, with Copeland passing to Johnson for four yards to tie the game at 21.

With less than two minutes remaining, Incarnate Word moved down the field, aided by a pass interference call against Lamar, giving UIW 12 seconds to kick a field goal to win the game. However, Schultz used all three of his timeouts to ice UIW kicker Seidel, calling the third just as Seidel took the kick.

“I was looking and trying to time it, because I wanted him to kick and get it called right before he missed it,” Schultz said. “I finally had caught on to their timing. (Seidel) would signal to the holder, ‘OK,’ and the holder turned his head and looked to the center. As soon as that happened I hit timeout and watched the kick miss.”

Schultz’s timeouts gave Taylor the opportunity to block the kick and Abrom return it.

“My first thought that ran through my head was, ‘He blocked it,’” Abrom said. “As soon as I saw that he blocked it, I told myself, ‘I have to go get the ball and run with it and don’t let anybody catch you.’ I knew at that point no one was going to catch me.”

The Lamar defense was led by senior linebacker Chaston Brooks with 12 tackles and seven solo stops, and senior backs Davon Jernigan and Rodney Randle, Jr., with 11 stops and nine unassisted tackles. Junior back Garrison Mitchell led the Cardinals in turnovers with two interceptions, one from Randle and the other from Taylor.

The Cardinal defense stopped UIW’s run game. Running back Dickens, who usually averages 9.2 yards a carry, was held to 57 yards on 17 attempts (3.4 yards a carry).

“It was a definitely a tough task,” Mitchell said. “They are probably the toughest team defensively that we saw all season, but we had time to prepare and get back to our roots.”

Colbert ended the night completing 14 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. The running game was led by a returning Myles Wanza, who rushed for 79 yards, and Colbert, who went for 66 yards and a score.

“It’s good to be on the winning side,” Schultz said. “Our kids played hard — they fought hard the whole game. The offense did what they needed to do when they had to. (UIW) is good on both sides of the ball and we knew that going into the game. We are going to enjoy this win, but we have to be prepared to take on Sam Houston next week.”

The Cardinals will try to play off the momentum when they return to action to take on the Sam Houston State Bearkats at 3 p.m., Saturday, at Provost Umphrey Stadium.

Story by Cade Smith, UP staff writer

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Category: Sports