Scoreboards may break as one of the biggest games of the week features two of the best spring offenses squaring off.
Incarnate Word at Nicholls
TV/Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription req’d)
Nicholls is looking to get back on track following the Colonels’ 71-17 loss to Sam Houston at Bowers Stadium on March 13. With the setback, Nicholls fell to 3-1 on the season and 2-1 in the Southland. Incarnate Word is undefeated and coming off a 56-45 win over Southeastern Louisiana. This is a pivotal game – the loser is likely eliminated from contention in the Southland Conference while the winner stays alive for one more week.
Freshman quarterback Cameron Ward has had an amazing season – he had a record-breaking seven touchdown performance in UIW’s 56-45 win over Southeastern Louisiana last Saturday. Ward threw for 407 yards on 26-of-47 passing and no interceptions.
Wide receiver Tre Wolf, a UTEP transfer, has led the receiving corps this season. He had eight receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. Running back Kevin Brown has been a workhorse this year – he had 13 carries for 190 yards and a touchdown last Saturday. Defensive end/linebacker Kelechi Anyalebechi is the Cardinals’ best player on defense.
One bright spot for the Colonels in their loss to Sam Houston was a record-breaking day for wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon. The New Orleans native needed four receptions to become the program’s all-time leader and finished the game with five for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Colonels’ running game – led by running back Julien Gums and quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. – was limited to 118 yards on 37 rushes. Linebacker Haydeen Shaheen finished with a career-high 11 tackles in the loss to the Bearkats.
Fearless Prediction: Nicholls was obliterated by an elite defense and an explosive offense in Sam Houston. While they struggled in their showdown against the Bearkats, head coach Tim Rebowe should have his team ready to play Saturday. UIW head coach Eric Morris will get an FBS job someday – he has elevated the Cardinal program to contender status since taking over in 2018. However, look for Nicholls to bounce back this week. The winner of this game keeps their playoff hopes alive. Nicholls 40 Incarnate Word 37
Northwestern State at Lamar
TV/Streaming: ESPN+ (subscription req’d)
Head coach Blane Morgan has stressed patience to the Lamar fanbase – his roster has 51 freshmen, so the rebuild will take time.
Lamar surprised many in the Cardinals’ 27-26 overtime victory over McNeese at Cowboy Stadium a couple of weeks ago. Nevertheless, they got pulverized by an elite Sam Houston team last Saturday – there were few positives in the 62-7 home loss.
Northwestern State is coming off a 21-7 loss to McNeese at home. However, head coach Brad Laird proved that he is not afraid to throw the football – Northwestern State flashed its aerial attack as the Demon offense moved up and down the field in the first half.
Any momentum gained from Lamar’s first win of the season did not carry over to the Cardinals’ game last Saturday against Sam Houston. Wide receiver Marcellus Johnson has been a bright spot for the Cardinals this season, but he did not play last Saturday due to an undisclosed injury.
Quarterback Jalen Dummett scored the winning touchdown in Lamar’s overtime victory over McNeese – however, he struggled against the Bearkats and was eventually pulled in favor of Eastern Kentucky transfer Austin Scott. Scott struggled as well – he was 10-of-19 for 123 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
After being a predominantly running team the first two games, Northwestern State took to the air in the first half against McNeese with a season-high 237 passing yards. Quarterback Kaleb Fletcher completed his first 11 passes and finished with 171 yards on 13-of-18 passing. Wide receiver Javon Antonio logged the Demons’ first 100-yard receiving game of the season, catching six passes for 103 yards.
The Demons played all three quarterbacks last Saturday as Zachary Clement emerged in the second quarter. Bryce Rivers played for parts of the fourth quarter, throwing for 68 yards on 6-of-12 passing and one interception.
Fearless Prediction: Lamar surprised many when they stunned McNeese a couple of weeks ago – perhaps this
football team is a bit ahead of schedule. The Cardinals were obliterated by the Sam Houston Bearkats last Saturday, but that was expected. But can they get back on track against the Demons? The Cardinals keep it close but Northwestern State gets its first win of the spring season. Northwestern State 31 Lamar 20
Rob Butler is a lifelong Texas A&M football fan – his family is full of A&M graduates. He graduated from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas with two degrees – a BBA in Finance and an MBA. His hobbies include jogging and reading books pertaining to college football.