Week Eight Southland Conference Schedule
Saturday, Oct. 20
Nicholls St. at Stephen F. Austin*, 3 p.m. (HC; SLCTV)
Lamar at Central Arkansas*, 6 p.m.
McNeese St. at Sam Houston St.*, 7 p.m. (HC; CSNH)
All times Central
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Nicholls State at Stephen F. Austin, 3 p.m.
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Game Notes: Nicholls State |
Stephen F. Austin
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Nicholls State heads to Stephen F. Austin for a regionally televised game at Homer Bryce Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
After falling to nationally ranked Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State in its past two contests, Nicholls (1-4, 0-2) is still searching for its first conference victory
of the season. The Colonels are tied for last place with Lamar, but only one team is undefeated after the first four weeks, with Southeastern La. sitting at 3-0.
SFA (2-4, 1-1) is coming off a bye week after losing in a shootout to Sam Houston, 51-43, at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The Lumberjacks won their conference opener, defeating
Central Arkansas in Nacogdoches, 42-37. SFA has played three ranked FCS teams this season, going 1-2.
Nicholls will be looking for only its eighth win in the series as SFA has dominated the Colonels, holding a 21-7 record. The Lumberjacks blew out the Red and Gray last season
at John L. Guidry Stadium, winning 57-21 on homecoming to extend their winning streak to four games against the Colonels. Chika Madu was responsible for two touchdowns of the Colonels’ three touchdowns as he set the program and conference record in kick returns
yardage (304) and touchdowns (2).
Lumberjack quarterback Brady Attaway threw for seven touchdowns in the 36-point victory. Attaway, a junior, leads the Southland in passing yards (363.7 yards per game) as the
Lumberjacks feature the second-best passing offense in the FCS with an average of 410.2 yards per game. Attaway has thrown for 2,182 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
The Colonels will have to find a way to slow down SFA’s aerial attack as Nicholls is last in the conference in total defense (433.4 ypg) and fifth against the pass (233.2 ypg).
On the year, Nicholls has five sacks and four interceptions.
Colonel quarterback Landry Klann has steadily made progress in his first full year as a starter, throwing for over 200 yards in his last three outings. Klann is third in the
Southland with 199.8 yards per game, throwing for five touchdowns against four interceptions.
While Wildcat quarterbacks LaQuintin Caston and Tuskani Figaro are still sidelined with injuries, the rushing game will receive a boost as Marcus Washington returns after missing
last week. In four games, Washington is averaging 69.2 yards on the ground, ranking third in the Southland. On the year, he has an impressive 6.8 yards per carry and has found the end zone three times.
Lamar at No. 19/17 Central Arkansas
Game Notes: Lamar |
CONWAY, Ark. – Central Arkansas is one victory away from sealing a winning season, with Lamar coming to town on Saturday night.
The No. 19/17 Bears (5-2, 3-1 Southland) are a half-game behind Southeastern Louisiana in the Southland Conference standings with three league games remaining. But head coach
Clint Conque is more occupied with winning the next game to give the Bears their 31st winning season in the last 36 years, dating back to 1976.
“That is one of our main goals each and every year, to have a winning season for our seniors,” said Conque, who has been responsible for nine of those in his 12 seasons at
UCA, including an 11-3 season in 2003 and a 10-2 mark in 2008. “We have a chance to assure that this group of seniors can go out as winners, starting this Saturday.’
The Bears had another dramatic fourth-quarter rally last Saturday to beat another ranked team. UCA came back from a pair of two-score deficits in the final 10:16 to knock off
the 15th ranked McNeese State Cowboys in Lake Charles, La. Earlier this season, UCA scored twice in the final 3:18 to beat then-No. 3 Sam Houston State, the FCS national runnerup last season.
“The sign of a pretty good team is when you have to do something under pressure,” Conque said. “We’ve done it twice now under pressure. There’s no doubt what happened against
Sam Houston had to help. There was no panic among any player or coach in those last minutes (at McNeese).”
The Bears and Cardinals have only met once in football, with UCA winning 38-24 last year in Beaumont, Texas. In that game, UCA overcame an early 14-0 deficit by outscoring
Lamar 38-10 in the final three quarters. Safety Jestin Love sealed it with an interception returned 31 yards for a touchdown with 2:07 left to play.
The Bears enter this week’s game with the second-ranked passing offense in the Southland, averaging 262.3 yards per game through the air. Lamar counters with the top pass defense,
allowing just 176.3 passing yards. McMurry, a 52-21 loser at Lamar last week, threw 62 times for 317 yards and one touchdown.
Lamar is jumping back into conference play a week after dispatching McMurry University 52-21 on homecoming.
Lamar was impressive in all three phases of the game in its last outing as the Cardinals scored on offense, defense and special teams against McMurry. Sophomore wide receiver
Kevin Johnson was responsible for scoring two different ways en route to tying the school record of four touchdowns.
Johnson, who already has 11 touchdowns on the season, returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score before catching three touchdown passes from quarterback Caleb Berry. On the year,
Johnson has 16 catches for 275 yards and nine receiving touchdowns.
Junior running back DePauldrick Garrett added 104 rushing yards against the War Hawks on just 10 carries, becoming Lamar’s first 100-yard rusher since the 2011 season opener
when he accomplished the feat against Texas College. Lamar finished with 275 rushing yards in the game for its highest total since reinstating the program prior to the 2010 season.
Starting running back Herschel Sims just missed the total as he went out with an injury early in the third quarter having amassed 99 yards on 18 carries. Sims is expected to
be fully recovered and ready to play in Saturday’s contest at Central Arkansas.
“They are loaded with quality athletes at Lamar,”Conque said. “We were fortunate to get out of Beaumont last year with a win and it will take a great week of preparation and
playing 60 minutes again this week at home to notch that sixth victory.”
No. 21 McNeese State at No. 6/6 Sam Houston State, 7 p.m.
Comcast SportsNet Houston
Game Notes: McNeese State |
Sam Houston State
HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Two of the top rushing defenses in the nation as well as two of the best offenses in the Southland Conference will collide on Saturday when No. 21 McNeese State visits No. 6/6 Sam Houston State in a crucial league football game that will
be regionally televised live by Comcast SportsNet Houston at 7 p.m.
McNeese (4-2, 1-2 Southland) is ranked third in the FCS in rushing defense with a 69.2 yards allowed per game while Sam Houston State (4-2, 2-1 Southland) is second in the
nation with a 62.0 average.
“Both teams play very similar on defense,” McNeese head coach Matt Viator said. “But they like to play more man than we do. It could very well come down to who can make more
plays in the passing game.”
The Cowboys are coming off a nightmarish 27-26 loss to Central Arkansas in a game that saw the Pokes hold a 9-point lead with less than two minutes remaining. A tremendous
pass-catch touchdown by UCA in double coverage followed by an on-side kick recovery, led to the game-winning field goal with just seconds remaining.
“That was a great game,” Viator said. “Both teams played hard. I’m disappointed we lost, but we actually did some good things. We didn’t turn the ball over and had very few
penalties. We didn’t do enough to win and UCA did.”
Both of McNeese’s losses (UCA and Southeastern Louisiana) have been by one point and came in the final minutes of the game when it seemed the Cowboys were well on their way
to a victory.
“Those two games were different in how they went down,” Viator said. “At the end of the day, Southeastern made a lot of plays to beat us and UCA did a great job of answering
after getting down. We just have to continue to get better and hopefully we can continue to get ourselves into that position and pull those wins out.”
Saturday will be a true test as McNeese will be running into a hot Sam Houston team that has won three consecutive games and has its sight on a second consecutive conference
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Viator said. “I’m very impressed with their football team. Defensively, they cause all kinds of problems with the pressures they use. They love
to crowd the box against the run.”
The Bearkats rank third in the league in total offense with 339 yards per game allowed and are second in scoring defense with allowing 21.3 points a game. McNeese tops the
league in both of those categories, allowing 310.5 yards per game and 20.5 points a contest.
“We’re going to be playing a very tough McNeese team,” Bearkats coach Willie Fritz said. “They are two points away from being undefeated. It’s a huge game for both of us.”
Offensively, both team rank near the top in the league stats in scoring (McNeese 35.2, Sam Houston 39.8), rushing (McNeese 235.3, Sam Houston 259.8), and total offense (McNeese
425.7, Sam Houston 461.7)
McNeese will try to break through Sam’s defensive unit with its 1-2-3 rushing punch of Marcus Wiltz, Javaris Murray and Champlain Babin.
All three rank in the top 10 in the league in rushing and have accounted for 910 of the Cowboys’ 1,412 rushing yards on the season.
Quarterback Cody Stroud is a threat when running as well. Stroud tops the team and is seventh in the Southland with five rushing touchdowns.
Keys for McNeese to come out with a win will be to contain Sam’s Walter Payton Award candidate running back Tim Flanders (94.5 ypg rushing), quarterback Brian Bell (225.8 ypg
passing) and wide receiver Trey Diller (27 catches for 404 yards).
“Sam Houston has improved quite a bit with its passing game from last year,” Viator said. “We know the challenges we’re up against, playing at their place for homecoming, but
we’re up for it.”
Saturday’s game will be just the second home contest for the Bearkats on the season.
McNeese leads the all-time series against Sam Houston State by a 24-8-1 margin including six wins in the last seven meetings. Sam won last year’s contest by a 38-14 score at