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Cardinals drop season opener at Abilene Christian

Junior linebacker Tyler Jackson gathers with the rest of LU's defense.
Junior linebacker Tyler Jackson gathers with the rest of LU's defense.

Lamar University scored two first half touchdowns on drives that combined for less than a minute of game time, but Abilene Christian was able to score late in the opening half and once again in the fourth quarter to defeat LU, 28-14, Thursday night at Wildcat Stadium.

The Cardinals finished the night with 272 yards of total offense but struggled on the ground recording just 68 yards. Freshman Mike Chandler got out to a quick start for the Cardinals in the completing four of his first seven passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, but ACU figured out a way to slow him down in the second half as he finished the night 8-of-24 for 204 yards.

Transfer Sevvone Rhea hauled in three passes for 113 yards with a touchdown (75 yards) to lead the Red and White, while the other scoring strike went to senior Jalen Dummett. It was Dummett's lone catch of the night, but it went for 59 yards.

ACU's Maverick McIvor led a Wildcat offense that recorded 444 yards of offense. He completed 22 passes for 258 yards and two scores. The Wildcats also rushed for two scores.

Big Red's defensive effort was highlighted by two players in double figures. Vencent Rockwell and Tyler Jackson both recorded 10 tackles. Rockwell was also credited with an assist, while Jackson added 1.5 tackles for losses.

After forcing a 3rd and 10 on the first series to open the game, ACU responded with a 75-yard drive over the next 10 plays for the game's first score. Despite giving up a score on that opening drive, the Cardinals responded quickly. Just three plays later Chandler hit Dummett on a 56-yard strike to tie the game at 7. The Cardinal response came just 43 seconds after the game's opening score.

After LU forced consecutive stops on defense, the offense came back on the field and once again showed its ability to score quickly. On the first play of the new drive, Chandler hit Rhea who beat the Wildcat defense to the goal line for the score giving the Cards their first lead of the night. The Cardinals took the seven-point lead into the second half on two drives that totaled 54 seconds. Unfortunately, ACU got the equalizer before just before the end of the quarter.

Big Red got the ball three more times but struggled to move it as the Wildcats reclaimed the lead with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

LU's offense found its rhythm through the air quickly completing 4-of-7 passes for 144 yards and two scores, but the ground game struggled to get going in the opening 30. The Cards went into the locker room with 10 yards on nine carries. The Wildcats finished the half with 283 yards of offense, but their biggest advantage came in time of possession. The Wildcats had the ball nine minutes longer than LU in the first quarter (due to the Cardinals two quick scoring drives) and held more than a 13-minute advantage heading into the locker room.

For all the points scored in the game's opening half, the second half was a different story. Only one team hit paydirt in the second half and unfortunately, it was the Wildcats less than five minutes into the fourth quarter as they kept LU off the scoreboard for the rest of the night.

The Cardinals return to action Saturday, Sept. 10, when they travel to Dallas, Texas to take on SMU. The game against the Mustangs is set to kick off at 6 p.m. from Gerald Ford Stadium.

Category: Sports