The unbeaten Lamar Cardinals will come into Saturday’s game against 16th-ranked Texas A&M at Kyle Field on the heels of a 23-20 overtime victory over Mississippi Valley State.
Junior Bailey Giffen, who played at Rudder High School, hit the go-ahead field goal, and the defense came up with a tackle for a loss and sack to force Mississippi Valley State to try and convert a fourth-and-25 with the pass falling incomplete.
“This was an ugly win tonight, but a win is a win,” Lamar head coach Mike Schultz said after the game. “This is a game that I don’t think we would’ve pulled out two years ago.”
Helping the Lamar defense hold Mississippi State to 301 yards was sophomore defensive end Abel Daily, who played at A&M Consolidated.
Lamar, which didn’t play football from 1990-2009, is trying to build on its first FCS playoff appearance. The Cardinals finished 7-5 last season, losing to Northern Iowa in the playoffs. Lamar was 6-3 in the Southland Conference with victories over Sam Houston State, SFA and Central Arkansas.
“They do a lot of things on defense, they bring a lot of pressures and mix up coverages,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Offensively, they are very demanding. They do a lot of mid-line reads, and inside reads, quarterback runs, and throw the ball.”
Lamar, which beat Bethel 65-16 in the opener, averages 274 yards rushing and 273.5 yards passing per game.
Lamar was 2-9 in 2017, which was Schultz’s first season. The Sam Houston State graduate worked twice for former A&M head coach Dennis Franchione, first at Texas State from 1990-92 as running backs coach and secondary coach. When Franchione was hired at New Mexico, he took Schultz with him. When TCU hired Franchione in 1998, Schultz went along to be running game coordinator. When Franchione left for Alabama in 2001, he was replaced by Gary Patterson, who promoted Schultz to offensive coordinator.
Schultz also was OC at Illinois (2009) and Middle Tennessee State (2010) before re-joining Franchione at Texas State for four seasons for four seasons before being hired by Lamar.
Lamar was picked to finish fifth in the Southland Conference’s preseason poll which included coaches and sports information directors. Nicholls State was first followed by Central Arkansas, Incarnate Word and Sam Houston State.