The Lamar University football team got the 2015 season started in dominant fashion defeating an outmanned Bacone College squad, 66-3, Saturday night at Provost Umphrey Stadium. The victory keeps LU undefeated in home openers since the sport’s return to Beaumont, and is the Cardinals fifth win in its last six games dating back to last season.

“I was proud of the way we fought through some things that weren’t as sharp as we would have liked,” said LU head coach Ray Woodard. “Bacone played really hard, which had a lot to do with that. We just kept working, and it is always good to start out 1-0.

“A lot of other people wanted to overlook this game and talk about other things. I was proud of how our guys stayed focused on just Bacone, and we came out tonight and did what we had to do,” added Woodard.

It didn’t take long for the Cardinals to get into the scoring act. After the defense forced a turnover on the second play from scrimmage, the offense, led by senior Joe Minden, who took the first snap for LU, found Michael Handy for a nine-yard strike on the third play from scrimmage.

The Cardinals’ defense then forced a three-and-out, but a muffed return gave the ball back to Bacone and kept the defense on the field. Led by freshman defensive end Larance Hale, the Cardinals got the ball right back. Hale popped Bacone’s Roderick Mackey on the very next play jarring the ball loose. LU got the ball back and Minden again had the Cardinals on the move.

Minden guided the Cardinals on a 10-play, 70-yard drive that took nearly four minutes off the clock. The drive was capped by a 12 yard pass to junior college transfer DeAndre Jennings.

“He is a senior, and he has played in the league before,” said Woodard of Minden. “That was about it. As everyone saw tonight, both quarterbacks did a really good job. I don’t know if anyone wants to try and get the ‘quarterback controversy’ going, but there really isn’t one. I don’t think either one did anything to take themselves out. We’ve got two good quarterbacks, and that is a good thing.”

True to his word, Woodard got junior Carson Earp in the game early. The junior college transfer started the second quarter and led LU on an 11-play drive that ended in a 38-yard Alex Ball field goal.

After the LU defense force another three-and-out, the Cardinals were on the march again. Set up by a 17-yard punt return from Jayce Nelson, LU had the ball first and 10 from the visitors 39. After completing a 34-yard pass to Handy on the first play, Earp then turned around and handed the ball to preseason All-Southland Conference running back Kade Harrington for his first touchdown of the season.

Before the half was over, Earp led the Cardinals to three more scores to take an insurmountable 45-0 lead into the locker room. The Cardinals recorded 329, of their 525 yards of total offense in the opening half. While the offense appeared to be in midseason form, the defense didn’t give an inch. The Warriors could manage only 45 yards of offense, including just 19 through the air in the opening half of action.

Woodard made sure to rotate the quarterbacks equally throughout the contest although Minden attempted 20 passes, while Earp only six. True freshman Brett Cox also got in the game but didn’t register a pass. Minden ended the game 16-of-20 for 170 yards and three touchdowns, while Earp was 5-of-6 for 91 yards and two scores. The LU signal callers connected with eight different receivers, led by Handy’s five receptions for 63 yards. Handy, seniors Reggie Begelton and Gee Gladney, Jennings and freshman Martell Hawthorne each recorded a touchdown catch on the night.

Due to LU’s lead at halftime, both head coaches and the officials agreed to play only 10-minute quarters in the second half. The Warriors never seriously threatened LU in the final 20 minutes but did crack the scoreboard with 6:03 remaining in the game. Bacone’s Blake Pearce ended a five-play drive with a 24-yard field goal for the Warriors’ only score of the game.

The Cardinals racked up 264 yards on the ground, despite not having anyone with more than 66 yards on the night. Junior Emmitt Raleigh led all Cardinals with his nine carries for 66 yards and a score, and was one of eight players to carry the ball. He was also one of four players to rush for a score. Harrington, and freshmen Emmanuel Atoyebi and Keegan Mitchell also recorded touchdown runs.

The Warriors were never able to mount a comeback in the second half, although they did crack the scoreboard with 6:03 in the fourth quarter. LU closed out the game with three touchdowns in the second half, including Atoyebi’s 22-yard scamper with less the five minutes on the clock to close out the scoring.

Hale led the Cards defense, finishing the night with six tackles, and a game-high three tackles for losses, including one sack. He was also credited with a forced fumble.

The Cardinals return to action Saturday, Sept. 12, when they travel to Waco, Texas to take on nationally ranked Baylor. The game against the Bears is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. from McLane Stadium.