Following an impressive 75-0 victory over Oklahoma Panhandle State to open the season, the Lamar Cardinals go in search of consecutive victories Saturday when the travel to Ruston, La. to face Louisiana Tech. The game against the Bulldogs is slated to begin at 6 p.m. from Joe Aillet Stadium.
Lamar overwhelmed the Aggies in the season opener by scoring 28 points in each of the first two quarters to build a 56-0 halftime lead. Behind the leadership of junior quarterback Caleb Berry, the Cardinals racked up a school record 615 yards of total offense, including nearly 300 yards on the ground, while holding OPSU to just 180 yards and only nine first downs. In addition to Lamar's defense not allowing OPSU to move the football, the Cardinals also forced their guests into six turnovers, including four fumbles.
"Obviously we got out to the start we wanted against Oklahoma Panhandle State," said head coach Ray Woodard. "Our challenge was to make sure that we came out and played our style of football and I feel like we did that. Now our challenge is to get ready for an FBS opponent on the road. That has been something that we haven't been very successful at in the past.
"I believe our team is up to that task. They have done a good job of taking what the coaching staff has said and applying it to their preparation. We have a lot of `want to' on this them, and I fully expect to see us play well this week,"
Louisiana Tech opened the season with a tough 40-14 setback at North Carolina State that saw the Bulldogs fall behind by 24 points to start the game. LA Tech tried to rally late in the contest, cutting the deficit to 13 points early in the fourth quarter but could get no closer.
Turnovers played a huge factor in Raleigh as well. Louisiana Tech was hurt by four fumbles during Saturday's game including two that lead to scores, and one that stopped a drive on the NC State one-yard line. The focus for the Cardinals coming into the 2013 campaign has been to cut down on the mistakes. That was accomplished in the season opener. The Cardinals were penalized only six times for 40 yards, and turned the ball over once, but the Cardinals' defense didn't allow OPSU to take advantage of the miscue.
"You're never going to play perfect, but we have stressed playing closer to mistake free football," said Woodard. "I was pretty proud of the fact that we played a pretty clean game. I was also proud how we played after building that big lead. We talked about staying focused at halftime and not getting sloppy and I thought we did a really good job of that."
LU set numerous school records in the win including points scored, margin of victory, total yards of offense, most touchdown passes (by a team and individual) and extra points (by a team and individual). Berry sparked the offense with his 330 yards of total offense, including 74 on the ground. He also completed 17 passes for 256 yards and six touchdowns on the night, including one to junior receiver Kevin Johnson to move into the school's all-time top 10 in touchdown receptions. Johnson finished the night with two TD catches and is currently tied for seventh all-time in school history.
The offense stole all of the headlines in the game but it was defense that quietly went about it business pickup up where it left off last season. The league's top pass defense a year ago held the Aggies to just 50 yards passing, and picked off two passes, including one each from Nashon Davis and Chad Allen. The Cards were led by four players with five tackles, while eight different players were credited with a tackle for a loss.
The defense will have to post another strong performance as it looks to slow down an LA Tech offense that averaged more than 570 yards of total offense and 50 points last season despite 321 yards of total offense in the opener.
Saturday's contest will be the first of two consecutive games against NCAA FBS opponents. Lamar will travel to Stillwater, Okla., next week to take on Oklahoma State.