BEAUMONT, Texas – In a season that started with six quarterbacks on the roster at the beginning of the year, the Lamar University Cardinals found themselves down to one Saturday night due to injuries as the Big Red fell to Houston Baptist, 24-17, on Homecoming. The loss drops the Cardinals to 3-5 on the season, and 3-3 in Southland Conference play.
“This is a very tough night,” said LU head coach Ray Woodard. “HBU had a lot to do with that. I thought we fought hard, and I thought we tried to fight through it but it is just a tough night.”
The Huskies scored the first 17 points of the second half to build an insurmountable lead as they rack up 395 yards of total offense. LU’s offense struggled to find its rhythm as the quarterback carousel continued due to all of the injuries. In the past two weeks, the Cardinals have lost five starters, lost four quarterbacks and have had to burn two redshirts.
Freshman Case Robinson came on in relief of Andrew Allen – who left early in the first quarter – was solid in his first collegiate game. He completed 7-of-12 passes for 66 yards and touchdown, but his opportunity didn’t last long as he was knocked from the game late in the second half. That is when Woodard turned the offense over to Port Neches-Groves freshman Adam Morse who completed seven passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.
“I don’t think the loss of Andrew by itself would be as tough if we hadn’t lost Carson Earp and Blake McKenzie prior to that,” said Woodard. “We’ve lost our top three quarterbacks. I thought Andrew had put in a great week at practice and I was really looking forward to watching him on the field tonight.”
Nederland, Texas freshman Austin Krautz recorded a career effort carrying the ball 21 times for a career-high 114 yards, including a season-long rush of 56 yards. Linebacker Cameron Hampton led a defensive effort with 10 total stops on the night, including one for a loss. He was one of seven Cardinals to record a tackle for a loss.
If Robinson was nervous taking control of the LU offense it didn’t show. After trailing the Huskies 7-0 early, Robinson guided LU down the field midway through the first on a four-play, 60-yard drive which ended with a six-yard strike to sophomore Zae Giles. The game would remain tied for the next 20 minutes before senior Juan Carranco gave the Cardinals a three-point advantage, 10-7, on a 26-yard field goal with 2:03 remaining in the half.
HBU came out of the locker room with all of the momentum in the second half led by its defense. The Huskies forced LU to punt on its first four series of the half and HBU took advantage with a field goal and two touchdowns.
HBU tied the game on their opening drive of the half. Alec Chadwick capped a seven-play, 47-yard drive with a 33-yard field goal to pull even at 10 less than three minutes into the half. The Huskies got the ball back with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter and scored less than a minute later. Tony Dawson found Mev Ajdin from 31 yards on the third play of the drive to give the visitors 17-10 advantage. The Huskies added what would be the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Dawson hit Isaiah Hall for a 44-yard pass to take a 24-10 advantage.
The Cardinals had an opportunity to pack it in after the touchdown. A team that has lost several starters due to injuries over the course of the past three weeks, LU went back to work. Morse injected some energy into the Cardinals lineup with a little help from the Cardinals defense.
After recovering a fumble at midfield, Krautz carried the ball for four yards down to the HBU 46. Morse followed with an 11-yard strike to Giles, then handed it off to Hamshire-Fannett’s Kendrick King for a three-yard gain. After senior Michael Handy hauled in a 20-yard pass, Morse hit pay dirt on the next play when he found sophomore DeWan Thompson in the end zone for the score.
It appeared the Cardinals were on the march again after another defensive stop, and a 21-yard punt return from senior Brendan Langley, LU had the ball 1st-and-10 from its own 29. After moving the ball into HBU territory, Morse picked on the Huskies’ Derek Broussard who was flagged for pass interference on consecutive plays to give the Cardinals 1st-and-10 at the HBU 19 with plenty of time on the clock. After two incomplete passes, the Cardinals were faced with a 4th-and7 from the HBU 16. Morse’s pass to Thompson fell incomplete as the Cardinals dropped their second-straight on the season and the second consecutive Homecoming contest.
The Cardinals return to action Thursday when they travel to Thibodaux, La. to take on Nicholls. The game against the Colonels is slated to begin at 6 p.m. from Guidry Stadium.