BEAUMONT, TX (KPLC) - McNeese senior running back Justin Pratt saved the best game of his career for the last regular season game when he rushed for a career-high 206 yards on 27 carries to help McNeese explode with 20 fourth quarter points en route to a 27-3 win over Lamar in the Battle of the Border game.
The win ended McNeese’s regular season at 7-5 and while it captured its 15th consecutive winning season – the longest current streak in the FCS now with Jacksonville State, who had the longest streak at 16 seasons, losing on Saturday to fall to 6-6.
“For us to win seven (games) in the first season is a big deal,” said head coach Sterlin Gilbert. “It’s definitely something we can grow and build on daily within our program, within our culture and standards.”
In addition to Pratt’s rushing yardage, he scored on two, 1-yard runs and caught two passes for 62 yards to end with 268 total yards. He became the first McNeese rusher in 11 years to hit the 200-yard mark – Toddrick Pendland with 242 against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 8, 2008 – while his 206 yards ranks as the 15th-most rushing yards in a game in school history.
Quarterback Cody Orgeron threw for 238 yards and a touchdown on 14 of 22 passing, and rushed for 46 yards and a score to end with 284 offensive yards.
“The first thing that comes to mind is those seniors,” said Gilbert about McNeese’s 17 seniors. “We wanted to play for those guys. They put a lot and given a lot into this program. We’re excited to send those guys out with a win.”
McNeese scored right off the bat after forcing Lamar into a three-and-out in the game’s opening series when on its third play from scrimmage, Orgeron found a wide open Trevor Begue for a 54-yard catch and run to put McNeese up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
That would be all the scoring for either team until the fourth quarter when McNeese outscored Lamar by a 20-3 count.
“Being able to go down late in the game and play well and put points on the board,” said Gilbert. “Defensively we played really well (the entire game). Those guys played relentless, just physical and intense.”
McNeese held Lamar to 210 total yards, the least amount allowed on the season. The Cardinals managed 105 yards in the first half then matched that in the second.
For the Cowboys, they had 192 yards at the half but exploded in the second half, especially the fourth quarter, to finish with 518 total yards – 280 rushing and 238 passing.
Begue led McNeese’s wideouts with five catches for 105 yards and a touchdown while Rhashid Bonnetted added four grabs for 32 yards.
McNeese was 5-for-7 on third downs in the second half and in the fourth quarter, scored touchdowns on all three possessions before running out the clock on its fourth possession.
Lamar pulled to within 7-3 early in the fourth quarter after a 39-yard Bailey Giffen field goal with 14:09 to play.
The Cowboys came right back on their ensuing possession and capped it with a 41-yard touchdown run by Orgeron to put the Cowboys up 14-3.
McNeese got the ball back on the next possession after linebacker Kody Fulp popped the ball loose from Chaz Ward and giving the Cowboys the ball at the Lamar 49. A 16-yard Pratt rush was followed by a 27-yard Orgeron to Cyron Sutton completion on a screen play that saw Sutton reverse his track to find open ground.
Two plays later Pratt barreled in from 1-yard out as McNeese led 20-3 after a missed extra point with 9:36 to play.
The Cowboy defense forced Lamar into a three-and-out on the next possession and it became the Pratt show or the Cowboys on their turn as he rushed for 60 yards in the 6-play drive, including a 46-yard jaunt that set up his second 1-yard touchdown run and giving McNeese a 27-3 lead at the 5:14 mark.
Pratt toppled the 200-yard mark on his final carry that went for nine yards then the Cowboys ran out the clock on their final three plays.
“He’s another senior that has put a lot into this program,” said Gilbert about Pratt. “He’s been productive the entire time. He’s a great kid and works extremely hard. It was great to see him go out the way he did, being able to get those numbers. I couldn’t be more happy to do what he did tonight.”
On defense, linebacker Kody Fulp led McNeese with 13 tackles while Chris Livings recorded one sack to end his career with 29 and No. 2 on the school’s career sack list.
• Trevor Begue became just the second player in school history to record double-digit touchdown receptions with his 10th on the season.
• Justin Pratt rushed for over 100 yards for the third time this season and became just the 16th rusher in school history to top 200 yards.
• Pratt ends his career with 2,144 rushing yards, ranking him 12th all-time in school history.
• Cody Orgeron’s first quarter interception snapped a streak of 101 pass attempts without a pick. His last interception thrown came in the third quarter against HBU back on Oct. 19.
• Sophomore safety Enos Lewis made his first collegiate start.