BEAUMONT, Texas – Despite being separated by just two hours, when Lamar University and Stephen F. Austin step on the field at Provost Umphrey Stadium Saturday it will mark the first meeting in the series since 2013. Saturday’s contest will be a matchup of two teams with the same focus – trying to climb back up the Southland Conference ladder.
The Cardinals enter the week in a two-way tie for 10th in the league standings (1-6/0-5 Southland) and looking to put an end to a five game slide. The Lumberjacks are alone in sixth place in the league standings with a 3-3 (.500) league mark. SFA has posted a 3-5 (.375) overall mark, and just ended a three-game slide last week with a win over Houston Baptist.
“Stephen F. Austin is a good football team,” said LU head coach Mike Schultz. “I watched their game against Central Arkansas and that went right down to the wire. UCA wasn’t in control of that game until late in the fourth quarter. Stephen F. Austin played Sam Houston extremely close as well, so we have another very tough opponent this week.”
Despite Saturday being a game of two teams in similar situations, the Cardinals have run into heartbreaking situations on the field, while SFA has run into its fair share of good luck. Big Red appeared to be driving for a game-tying score late in the fourth quarter at Northwestern State before an interception deep in Demon territory ended the game. The Cardinals had numerous opportunities to take the lead late at Incarnate Word only to see a pass deflected and picked off in the end zone.
On the flip side, the Lumberjacks pulled off one of the most stunning plays of the 2017 season when they picked off a pass with no time on the on the clock and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown to defeat UIW, 37-31.
While the Cardinals and Lumberjacks are trying to climb in the SLC standings, their struggles have come from opposing sides of the field. The Lumberjacks rank 10th in the league in scoring offense (18.5 ppg) while the LU is 10th in scoring defense (40.9 ppg). The Red and White are 10th in the Southland in total defense (481 ypg), while SFA is ninth in total offense (310 ypg).
“Coach Schultz has some wonderful looking athletes on both sides of the ball,” said SFA head coach Clint Conque. “Lamar creates some concerns for you in how you prepare because they have some quarterbacks who can do some different things. They do a lot of things on both sides of the ball so we’ve had a lot to do this week in getting ready to play. Going on the road in the Southland Conference against a skilled football team presents some interesting challenges for us.”
Senior Andrew Allen recorded his first start of the for the Cardinals last week at quarterback at Sam Houston State and performed well. Allen completed 17 passes for 228 yards. He also carried the ball 12 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Allen’s 228 passing yards and 54 rushing yards were both career highs.
The Cardinals are four games above .500 all-time against SFA holding a 15-11 (.577) all-time record in the series. That mark includes a 9-5 (.643) record against SFA in Beaumont. Saturday’s contest will be the first meeting between the two teams since the 2013 season when the Cardinals recorded a 46-45 victory in Provost Umphrey Stadium. The Red and White won the game on an Alex Ball 41-yard field goal with 15 seconds remaining in the contest. The last second victory put a stop to a five-game slide against the ‘Jacks. The Cardinals enter the week looking for their first back-to-back wins in the series since the 1982 and 1983 seasons.
Since the return of football to Beaumont, the Cardinals have played well at Provost Umphrey Stadium posting a 24-19 (.558) record during those games, but they have struggled at home the past two seasons. LU is 3-5 (.375) at home during that stretch.
Saturday’s game will start an hour earlier than the previous two home games, officially kicking off at 6 p.m.