BEAUMONT, Texas – The playing careers for Lamar's class of 2013 seniors ended in similar fashion to how it began. The Cardinals dropped a three-point decision at McNeese State to officially start the return of the program in 2010. The No. 6 McNeese State Cowboys rallied for a 42-38 victory to spoil senior night Saturday at Provost Umphrey Stadium. Despite the loss, Lamar (5-7/2-5 SLC) finished the season tying a school record for wins since bringing back the program.
"I was very proud of our effort," said head coach Ray Woodard. "I couldn't have been any more proud of them if we had won. They played hard and gave it everything they had. McNeese gave us a couple of chances to win. Washington's interception was big, that was one opportunity. The other was when they didn't kick the field goal. That was a big stop for us. Unfortunately, we couldn't capitalize. We've come a long way in four years. I'm thankful for all that the seniors have done for me and this program."
The Cardinals rolled up 476 yards of total offense, and took an 11-point lead, 31-20, into the locker room at halftime, but McNeese State got stronger as the game wore on. The Cowboys recorded 309 of their 483 yards of total offense in the second half. McNeese State also scored the game's final 16 points, including the game-clinching score with 58 seconds remaining.
Junior quarterback Caleb Berry finished his record-breaking season completing 21-of-41 (.500) passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the season setting single-season school records for completions, passing yards, yards of total offense and touchdown passes. Berry connected with classmate Mark Roberts five times for 123 yards and three touchdowns. The three TD catches tied a single-game school record, and came on his first three receptions of the game.
Both offenses seemed to have the advantage early as Lamar would score on one end of the field, only to see the Cowboys answer on the other. McNeese State closed out the quarter with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Cody Stroud to Dylan Long, but the point-after try was off the mark and Lamar held the lead momentarily. The Cowboys would tack on one more score before the end of the half before Lamar went on a 17-0 run to close the half and take all the momentum into the locker room.
Lamar recorded 322 yards of total offense in the opening half. The Cardinals kept their visitors honest with a balanced attack (126 rushing yards and 196 passing yards). LU came out of the locker room and appeared to have picked up where it left off. Lamar stopped the Cowboys on their opening drive to bring on the punt team, but on 4th and 6 the Cowboys faked the punt as Jean Breaux carried the ball up the middle for 26 yards to the Lamar 23. McNeese State followed the fake with four consecutive Marcus Wiltz rushes, including a 10-yard run for the score.
Lamar answered with a touchdown just over three minutes later when Berry found Roberts from 34 yards out to put the Cards up 38-26 with 8:24 remaining in the third. The 12-point advantage held until 58 seconds remaining when McNeese scored the gamewinner on a 16-yard run for Diontae Spencer.
Freshman Kade Harrington closed out a stellar rookie campaign with 81 yards on 12 carries, and a score. His 880 yards rushing are the most since Doug Matthews posted 881 in 1972.
Beaumont sophomore Reggie Begelton hauled in seven more catches to move his single-season record to 82. He also became the eighth receiver in school history to record at least 100 career receptions.
Tyrus McGlothen and Chad Allen led the Cardinals' defensive effort with 10 tackles each. McGlothen also had 1.5 tackles for loss.