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Lamar faces biggest test in Northern Iowa

November 24, 2018

Riding their longest win streak in five decades, the Lamar University Cardinals will look to make more history this weekend when they face Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA’s 2018 FCS Championship competition.

Lamar’s first FCS playoff game in school history will be streamed on ESPN3 and broadcast locally on KLVI-AM 560. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Saturday in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Here’s a quick look at what you need to know heading into gameday.

Lamar storyline

The Cardinals (7-4, 6-5) hope their dangerous rushing attack that dominated Southland Conference opponents will translate against a physical UNI defense. Lamar ranks 12th nationally in rushing yards per game, getting production from the running back and quarterback positions. Expect senior signal caller Darrel Colbert Jr. to start and take most of the snaps, but junior Jordan Hoy will likely see some playing time as well.

Opponent breakdown

Don’t let UNI’s mediocre record fool you, the Panthers (6-5, 5-3) are one of the nation’s top teams. Coming out of a challenging Missouri Valley Conference, UNI played the toughest schedule of all 125 teams in the FCS. Expect a stout defense and a balanced offense from the Panthers, who make their fourth playoff appearance in six seasons on Saturday.

Player to watch

If the Cardinals are to get another surprising win on Saturday, they’ll likely need to force turnovers. Defensive back Davon Jernigan has been Lamar’s best threat to do that throughout the season, most recently making the game-sealing interception against McNeese last week. Jernigan has four interceptions and a fumble return for a touchdown this year. Look for the senior to make another timely play this weekend.

Recent history

Saturday’s game will be a postseason rematch decades in the making. Lamar and UNI’s only previous meeting came in the 1964 Pecan Bowl when Lamar Tech lost to State College of Iowa, 19-17 in Abilene. The win gave the Iowans the NCAA’s College Division Midwest Regional championship. Although Lamar got out to an early lead, SCI running back Randy Schultz ran for two touchdowns to pace the Panthers to victory.

mfaye@beaumontenterprise.com

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