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Lamar football downs SELA for fourth straight win

Lamar Cardinal wide receiver Kyndon Fuselier runs after a catch against Southeastern Louisiana at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, Louisiana, Oct. 14.

Lamar Cardinal wide receiver Kyndon Fuselier runs after a catch against Southeastern Louisiana at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, Louisiana, Oct. 14. Image credit: Lamar football

Lamar University football picked up their fourth straight victory with a 30-24 win over Southeastern Louisiana at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, Louisiana, Oct. 14.

The Cardinals, fueled by a 30-point outburst in the first half, crashed the Lions’ homecoming festivities and remained a perfect 3-0 in Southland Conference play.

It was another efficient outing for quarterback Robert Coleman, who completed 17 of 22 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns. He added an additional 34 rushing yards on seven attempts.

Coleman’s primary target on the day was wide receiver Sevonne Rhea. The sophomore tallied 133 yards and two touchdowns on just six receptions. Lamar’s second-leading receiver, Beaumont native Andre Dennis, hauled in five catches for 86 yards.

The Cardinals’ bruising halfback, Khalan Griffin, rushed 23 times for 74 yards, while Major Bowden carried the ball six times for 22 yards and a score.

Both teams traded field goals early in the contest, but South- eastern scored their first touchdown with five minutes to go in the first quarter. The Cardinals tied the game again, 10-10, when Jalen Freeman forced a Southeastern fumble and K.J. Gilbert returned it 60 yards to the house.

Lamar safety Kevin Ander- son started the second quarter with an interception at the 50- yard line to end an opposing drive. On SELA’s next possession, the Cardinal defense made another crucial stop on 4th-and-five in their own territory — this time, Siale Suliafu sacked the quarterback.

The Cards’ offense took the field and drove down to the Lions’ four-yard line. Bowden punched in a rush attempt and gave Lamar their first lead of the game with seven minutes remaining until halftime.

It was the start of a scoring flurry for the Cardinals. LU struck again on their next drive when Coleman hit Rhea for a 35-yard TD. Lamar got the ball right back after Canden Grogran intercepted a pass, and Rhea snagged a 37-yard pass for another TD on the very next play.

The defense forced another fumble just before halftime, recovered by Caleb Williams. In the span of just seven minutes, Lamar had blown the game wide open and held a 30-10 lead as they headed to the locker room at intermission.

LU’s offense had just played their best half of the season. Unfortunately, they lost a step in the second half and didn’t score again throughout the remainder of the game — an issue which will surely come up in film study this week.

Southeastern Louisiana, fighting to avoid falling to 0-7 on the year, began to show signs of life in the third quarter. They scored a touchdown late in the third, then again on their following possession to begin the fourth.

Suddenly, the Lions were within striking distance of a late comeback. Lamar’s defense showed signs of fatigue but came up with a key stop when it mattered most. On what would be SELA’s final drive, two Cardinal defenders made the tackle and forced the Lions to punt on fourth-and-five.

Lamar held the ball for the final four minutes of the game and ran out the clock to secure the 30-24 win.

Notably, Lamar’s victory resulted in Southeastern Louisiana’s first 0-7 start since the 1971 season. The Lions, perennial playoff candidates, are still a better team than their record may imply — this was truly a statement win for the Cardinals.

Very few people, if anyone, predicted Lamar would sit first place in the Southland standings at any point this season. Yet here they are — a perfect 3- 0 in conference play and riding a four-game winning streak as they head into their bye week.

Has first-year head coach Pete Rossomando caught lightning in a bottle? It’s too early to say for certain. But, the Italian might just be cooking something here in Beaumont, because recent results have certainly been encouraging for the Cardinal program.

Lamar will have a valuable extra week of preparation before their next game against the conference’s other Cardinals, the University of Incarnate Word. The game kicks off at 3 p.m., Oct. 28, at Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont.

The matchup is the “Blackout” game and fans are encouraged to dress accordingly.

Category: Sports