HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Lamar held the second-ranked Sam Houston State Bearkats to the fewest points since the 2011 FCS Championship game but the upset bid fell short Saturday evening at Bowers Stadium. The Bearkats (5-1/1-0 SLC) escaped the contest with a 14-3 victory over Lamar. The setback dropped the Cardinals to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in Southland Conference play.
"I thought that was the best defensive effort since we brought back football," said Lamar head coach Ray Woodard. "You could tell early on it was going to be a defensive football game. You have to credit Sam Houston State, they did more than we did to win this game, but we just went toe-to-toe with one heck of a football team. Offensively, we just need to put a few more points on the board."
Lamar's defense held Sam Houston State to 343 yards of total offense. The Cardinals outgained the Bearkats for three quarters, and was winning the time of possession battle until the fourth quarter. The Cardinals also held Walter Payton Award candidate Timothy Flanders to less than 100 yards (83) for the first time in four quarters of action since the 2012 FCS Championship game.
Lamar's defensive effort was led by Courtlin Thompson and Jesse Dickson. Both players finished the game with 11 tackles.
In the opening half Lamar outgained their hosts by nearly 50 yards, held the ball more than four minutes longer, while not allowing Flanders to be a factor, nine yards on nine carries. Flanders gained 71 of his 83 yards in the fourth quarter.
Although Lamar was able to move the ball against the SHSU defense, LU was hurt by costly mistakes at key times. Lamar's opening drive saw junior quarterback Caleb Berry move the ball deep into Sam Houston territory until a sack forced a 51-yard field goal attempt that was missed wide left. Lamar's second trip inside Bearkat territory ended with an interception in the end zone and the third a blocked field goal.
The Bearkats broke the scoreless tie when quarterback Brian Bell rattled off a 45-yard run for a score with 7:43 remaining. Lamar got the ball back with 3:22 left before halftime and utilized the power running of Kade Harrington and Payton Ploch to move the ball back into SHSU territory. The drive set up an Alex Ball 47-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in the half. Lamar went into the locker room down only four points, 7-3.
The Bearkats pushed their advantage to 11 points, 14-3, when Bell found Stephen Williams from 18-yards out with 2:58 remaining. The score remained 14-3 until 4:30 remaining in the contest when the game was delayed for more than two hours due to lightning. The game officially resumed at 7:01 but Lamar was unable to get any closer.
Berry completed 17 passes for 196 yards, to move into eighth all-time in school history in completions. Berry connected with nine different receivers, led by Mark Roberts' four catches for 52 yards. Harrington led the Cardinals ground attack with 13 carries for 54 yards.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday when they return home to host Central Arkansas. The game against the Bears will kick off at 6 p.m. from Provost Umphrey Stadium.