NATCHITOCHES, La. – Lamar University sophomore Kendrick King rushed for a career high 120 yards Saturday night, but the Cardinals rally came up just short against Northwestern State, 35-28, at Turpin Stadium. The loss drops LU to 1-2 (.333) on the season and 0-1 in Southland Conference play.
“You can’t play like that and expect to win,” said LU head coach Mike Schultz. “We had too many mistakes. We’ve got to get those corrected. I said this the other night, there are forced penalties and aggressive penalties, and right now we’re making too many forced penalties. Give Northwestern credit, they outplayed us tonight. They executed when they had too.”
The Cardinals finished the night with 370 yards of total offense, including 229 on the ground. Northwestern State had 389 yards and held the ball 11 minutes longer than LU.
King set a new career high in rushing yards for the second-straight week while recording his first 100-yard rushing performance. Junior Darrel Colbert jr. completed 15-of-28 (.536) passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball 22 times for 92 yards and a score.
Redshirt freshman David Crosley led all players with a career-high 15 tackles. He was joined in double figures by senior Jaylon Bowden who added 11 stops.
Neither team was able to avoid penalties Saturday as the two teams combined for 36 penalties. The Demons were flagged for a school record 21 penalties for 183 yards.
The mistakes started early as the Demons were flagged for 14 first-half penalties including three false starts before they were able to record their first snap of the game.
The Demons overcame a penalty-riddled opening drive to record the game’s first touchdown. Jared West capped an 11-play, 67-yard drive with a three-yard plunge to give Northwestern State a 7-0 advantage. The drive took nearly five minutes (4:47) off the clock.
LU responded on the very next drive. After having their opening drive stall out near midfield, the Cardinals elected to strike from the 48 yard line. King rattled off a career-long 48-yard run up the middle to tie the game at seven less than two minutes later.
Northwestern State didn’t allow the score to stay tied for long. Demons quarterback J.D. Almond lead a seven-play, 74-yard drive that took 3:26 off the clock and hand Northwestern State back the lead. The scoring play came on a two-yard run from Jared West. The Demons added a third score less than a minute into the second quarter to take a 14-point lead.
The game settled into a defensive struggle for the next 14 minutes. Northwestern State got the ball back with 1:41 remaining in the half and appeared to be driving for another score when West was stripped of the ball by junior Chaston Brooks on the LU 31. Brooks returned the ball 69 yards for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the half, cutting the deficit to 21-14 heading into the locker room.
The Cardinals finished the opening 30 minutes with 227 yards of total offense. Northwestern State finished the half with 251 yards. Both teams recorded 13 first downs in the opening half.
The Demons opened the second half with the ball but the LU defense forced a fumble on consecutive possessions. Big Red recovered on the LU 42. The fumble set up a 20-yard pass from Colbert to Case Robinson tying the game at 21 less than four minutes into the third quarter.
Northwestern State responded with two more scores and appeared to be seeking the knockout punch.
Trailing by 14 points, LU’s defense was back on the field when junior Rodney Randle picked off his first pass of the season (fourth career pick) which sparked a scoring drive. The interception set up a seven-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard Colbert touchdown run. The drive took less than two minutes off the clock.
After forcing a punt, the Red and White got the ball back with 3:40 remaining in the game. The Cardinals managed to move the ball near midfield facing 4th-and-9 when Colbert found Zae Giles over the middle for the first down. Unfortunately, the drive came to an end four plays later when Colbert’s pass to Kendrick King was picked off.
The Cardinals will be back in action Saturday Sept. 23 when they travel to Hammond, La. to take on Southeastern Louisiana. The game against the Lions is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. from Strawberry Stadium.