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LU football ends season with first FCS playoff


Dewan Thompson Jr.
Dewan Thompson Jr.

The Lamar University 2018 football squad will officially go down in history.

The team finished one of the most thrilling seasons since its conception after turning around from a 0-3 deficit in the Southland Conference to defeating rival McNeese State and nationally ranked Sam Houston State, securing a winning season since the program was reinstated in 2010 and earning their first playoff bid in history.

“I think the first thing I need to do is take some time and say what a great honor it is to work with a group of kids like this,” head coach Mike Schultz said. “It was absolutely great. We had a vision that they bought into and they believed in. They worked their tails off for the vision and I just can’t say enough about them and how hard they worked for this.”

Schultz said the first group he wanted to acknowledge in making a winning season possible are the seniors. Names like Darrel Colbert Jr., Chaston Brooks, Dewan Thompson Jr., Brandon Dabney, Davon Jernigan, Tyler Rios, Dorian Gaston, Lane Taylor, Rodney Randle Jr.Dedrick Garner and Garrett Bowry will be etched in the LU books as some of the most notable seniors to play the game for Lamar.

“When you get a bunch of kids that believe in a vision and you put a plan with it — great things will happen,” Schultz said. “Fortunately, we had some good things happen to us this year.”

Lamar started out their season slow, losing back-to-back-to-back SLC games, hope and many of their fans with it — but one blocked goal and a winning play changed all that.

After falling to Northwestern State by a single point, followed by losses to Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls by more than a touchdown, the impending game against Incarnate Word looked bleak, but the team wasn’t ready to give up on their season just yet. They rallied with everything they had to miraculously overcome

the visiting UIW Cardinals, 27-21, after a blocked kick led to a touchdown return for the victory.

“I feel like everybody wants to go back to the blocked kick against Incarnate Word,” Schultz said. “But I don’t know if you can pick out just one play that turned it around. Was that a great play? Yeah, it was a great play. Lane Taylor did a great job blocking it and Caleb Abrom did a great job scooping it up and making the touchdown, but do you want to chalk it all up to one play? I don’t think so.

“It wasn’t just one point, it was a change of attitude and a change of culture that got us to where we were. When did that culture start changing? I’d like to think it changed two years ago around this time when I got the job and I’d like to think it started then.”

The Cardinals never looked back after defeating Incarnate Word as they went on a six-game winning streak to finish the season 6-3 in conference and 7-5 overall.

After the end of the conference season, the squad earned their first appearance in an FCS playoff game. Unfortunately, that is where their miraculous season ended after they fell to Northern Iowa in the final minutes of the game, 13-16.

“I’ve watched the (playoff) film,” Schultz said. “We still got beat, but we had our opportunities to win the game. “We didn’t capitalize on those opportunities and we didn’t make the plays we needed to make. When you have those opportunities you can’t get inside the red zone and put the ball on the ground. You can’t put your kicker in that kind of situation where the game rests on his shoulders. We should have punched the ball in and that goes back to a team loss, and even though we had a lot of wins this year, this was a team loss.”

Schultz said despite losing in the first round of playoffs, he is proud of his team and the effort they gave throughout the whole season.

“First thing I told them was how proud I was of them,” he said. “I know things didn’t go our way, but one thing I do feel very strong about is how hard our kids fought — they scratched, they held on, they played hard. I will say this, I don’t think we left anything on the field at Northern Iowa at their home stadium. I think our kids gave everything they’ve got and fought until the very end.”

Schultz said he will now turn his main focus to making sure the seniors finish the year and walk across the stage, after that he will turn his attention towards recruiting and a brand new year.

Story by Cassandra Jenkins, UP editor

Category: Sports