Beaumont, Texas – With 3:18 remaining on the clock, Mississippi Valley State was in a prime position for pulling off one of the greatest upsets in college football. When all was said and done, the Delta Devils suffered heartbreak as Lamar rallied to tie, then win in overtime by a 23-20 final Saturday (Sept. 7) at Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont, Texas.
The defense was stellar for the vast majority of the game, forcing three turnovers and reducing the offensive firepower of the Cardinals. Tracy Thompkins (Miami, Fla.) registered 15 tackles for the second time as a Delta Devil, and Keonte’ Daniels (Noxapater, Miss.) added 10 tackles and his second fumble recovery of the season. Valley also received a fumble recovery from Eric Powell (Glen Burnie, Md.) and an interception by Rod Sylestre (Margate, Fla.).
Dejerric Bryant (Mize, Miss.) was in on all three scores for Valley. He rushed for two and added a passing touchdown to Johnny Wilson (Tylertown, Miss.). Bryant ended the day with 218 yards – 127 on the ground and 91 through the air. John’Derrick Smith (Greenwood, Miss.) and Dewayne Barnett (Gulfport, Miss.) carried the pigskin in almost equal measure for a combined 76 yards. Wilson and Jarius Clayton (Kemper, Miss.) recorded three receptions each.
Punter Justin Read (Melbourne, Australia) helped Valley in the field position game, pinning the Cardinals inside the 20 once and earning a career-best 57-yard punt.
For the Cardinals, quarterback Jordan Hoy led all players with 301 yards, adding two rushing scores. Dallas Martin led the defense with 14 tackles and a fumble recovery.
THE GAME FLOW
Both defenses set the tone early with a scoreless first quarter. Valley changed courses from a week ago as they committed to running the football. Their first drive consisted of six-run plays lasting more than five minutes, but ultimately resulted in a punt. Lamar had the only scoring chance which resulted in a missed field goal.
The Delta Devils drew first blood early in the second. Capitalizing on good field position the visitors marched 58 yards for a touchdown, with Bryant punching in from two yards out. The score woke up their counterparts, and the Cardinals followed with a 70-yard scoring drive of their own. Lamar missed a second field goal at the closing seconds, and the squads entered halftime deadlocked, 7-7.
The Cardinals took their first lead with their first drive of the second half. Valley did hold the opposition in a goal-line stand, but a chip shot gave Lamar a 10-7 advantage. Midway through the quarter, Valley regained the lead when Bryant found Wilson in the endzone to go up 13-10. However, in what turned out to be a crucial moment, the extra point attempt was blocked.
Valley’s defense worked to provide the momentum with two turnovers in the fourth. Sylvestre picked off Hoy with 11:59 remaining, and Powell recovered a fumble by Hoy after Jerry Garner (Chunchula, Ala.). stripped him. But both offensive opportunities for the Delta Devils ended with three-and-outs. Lamar seized off a good return after their second stop, and a 27-yard drive resulted in a game-tying field goal.
Bryant and company did rise to the occasion after the tie. A 37-yard strike to Wilson opened up the run again, and the Delta Devil quarterback found a hole for a 22-yard rushing score. With 3:18 on the clock, Valley could smell the upset.
Facing that huge upset, Lamar orchestrated a nerve-racking drive. Twice the Valley defense forced fourth downplays – and twice the Cardinals converted. Hoy continued to find receivers and running lanes despite the pass rush. He would score his second rushing touchdown with just 31 ticks on the clock, and Lamar forced overtime.
The Cardinals had the ball first and cashed in a field goal, leaving the door open for a potential game-winning touchdown for Valley. But a negative rush and a sack left the Delta Devils at 4th and 25, and an incomplete pass sealed their fate.
Valley is idle next week but will open their home schedule September 21st at 6 p.m. versus Bethune-Cookman.
Courtesy: MVSU Athletics