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It's football time in Beaumont!

Lamar opens season Thursday night against North American

BEAUMONT, Texas — After the shortest offseason in program history, the Lamar University Cardinals are ready to open the 2021 campaign at home Thursday against North American University.

As with most NCAA FCS programs, the start of the 2021 season is a return to normalcy. Under the guidance of second-year head coach Blane Morgan, the Cardinals will look to improve upon a COVID-shortened season that saw delays and postponements before the season was pushed to a six-game schedule during the spring.

The 2021 season also marks a return to full capacity for Provost Umphrey Stadium against a first-time foe in the Stallions. Hailing from Stafford, Texas, NAU makes the short drive up I-10 Thursday with a 1-0 record. The Stallions have already played two games, but the first game served as an exhibition and will not count against their overall record. In their second week of the season, NAU defeated Louisiana College by one-point, 42-41.

Thursday will serve as the season opener for the Cardinals who are looking to build off of a 2-4 (.333) season a year ago – with wins over McNeese (in Lake Charles, La.) and Northwestern State.

A big difference in this year's squad compared to last year's is the number of returners on the team. The Cardinals entered 2020 with just 10 returning starters and fewer than 30 returning letterwinners. Entering Thursday's contest, the Cardinals will step on the field with 23 returning starters (including 10 on offense) and more than 50 returning letterwinners (the majority of those underclassmen).

Thursday game will kick off at 7 p.m. from Provost Umphrey Stadium and will serve as the team's lone home contest in the first three weeks of the season. The game will be carried live on Newstalk 560 KLVI and streamed live on ESPN+.