Last-second field goal lifts Lamar over McNeese

McNeese Lamar

A replay reversal with less than four minutes to play turned the tide for Lamar and the Cardinals beat McNeese State in Cowboy Stadium for the first time since 1982 when Juan Carranco connected on a 23-yard field goal as time expired. Lamar won 27-24,

Trailing 24-10 entering the fourth quarter, McNeese (6-5, 4-4 SLC) scored on a 5-yard pass from Will Briscoe to David Bush. The Cowboys tied the game at 24-all after Dominique Hill's second pass interception of the contest set up a 10-yard Briscoe pass to Ernest Celestie.

Hill seemed to have given the Cowboys the lead with 3:32 to play when he picked up a fumble after what appeared to be a Lamar completion on a third-and-3 and returned it 28 yards for a score. After a replay review of several minutes, the play was ruled an incompletion. During the return, McNeese was penalized 30 yards for two unsportsmanlike penalties that occurred during and after Hill's return. Those penalties were upheld despite the play being ruled an incomplete pass and Lamar was rewarded the ball with a first down at the McNeese 42-yard line.

The Cardinals (8-4, 5-3) converted on a fourth-and-3 at the McNeese 35 to keep their game-winning drive alive and drove the ball to the Cowboys' 6, where Carranco connected on the game-winner as time ran out.

Lamar outgained the Cowboys on offense 480 yards to 346 with 327 of those yards coming through the air as quarterback Caleb Berry, the league's No. 1 passer, connected on 27 of 53 for 327 yards and two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions. Berry also ran for 91 yards on 14 carries.

Will Briscoe and Tyler Bolfing combined to complete 19 of 38 passes for 181 yards while Bush attempted a pass on a wide receiver pass play that was knocked down. Briscoe, who played all but the first three series of the game, completed 15 of 27 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Neither quarterback turned the ball over.

Jereon McGilvery caught a career-high six passes for 45 yards while Khalil Thomas hauled in four passes for 52 yards and a score. Ernest Celestie added a touchdown grab and caught three passes for 18 yards. Celestie ended his career with 99 receptions and is ranked 11th on the McNeese all-time career receptions list.

The running game finished with 165 yards on 30 carries as Ryan Ross led the way with 76 yards followed by Dylan Long with 52 yards.

McNeese got on the board first with an impressive 10-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown catch by Thomas from Bolfing to make it 7-0 with 9:49 to play in the first quarter.

Lamar answered with two quick scores behind a couple of Berry passes – 17 yards to Jayce Nelson and 43 yards to Mark Roberts to put the Cards up 14-7 with 2:04 to play in the first. The lead went to 17-7 following a 24-yard field goal by Carranco with 9:10 to play in the half. The Cowboys answered with a 12-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Alex Kjellsten to make it 17-10 with 4:27 to play.

Kade Harrington upped the lead to 24-10 after a 2-yard score that capped a 16-play, 89-yard drive by Lamar with 7:15 to play. That's when Hill and the Cowboys' defense stepped it up beginning with Hill's first of two interceptions of the game at the McNeese 20 with 2:39 to play in the third quarter.

That sparked Briscoe and the offense that saw it cut the margin to 24-17 after Bush's 5-yard score from Briscoe with 12:36 to play. That was Briscoe's first career touchdown pass.

His second came eight minutes later when he connected with Celestie from 10 yards out to tie the game at 24-24 with 4:20 to play. That drive was set up by Hill's second pick of the game as he returned it 26 yards to the Cardinals' 13-yard line.

Despite the loss, the Cowboys still end the season with their 10th straight winning season – the fifth longest streak in the FCS.

Lamar's win gave the program its best record since becoming a four-year institution.


• McNeese honored its 13 seniors in a pregame ceremony. Those seniors playing in their final game at McNeese included Derek Allen, Wes Briscoe, Sean Brown, Ernest Celestie, Kevin Dorn, Everett Ellefsen, Antoine Everett, Danyel Hunter, Jereon McGilvery, Hunter Romero, Aaron Sam, Kendale Thomas, and Deonte Thompson.

• Celestie ends his career with 99 receptions and is now ranked 11th on the school's all-time career receptions list.

• Will Briscoe set career highs in completions (15), pass attempts (27), passing yards (144), and TD passes (2).

• Lamar returned the favor with its last second win over the Cowboys, one year after McNeese scored in the final minute to beat the Cardinals 42-38 in last year's regular season finale.

• McNeese moved the kickoff time up from 6 p.m. to 2 p.m. to avoid the rain and potential severe weather. It was a great move because 15 minutes after the game ended, the rain started to fall.