Defending Southland champion Central Arkansas has gotten a lot of breaks this season. Unfortunately for the Bears, they’ve all been bones.
UCA’s body count rose this week when tight end Chase Dixon was lost for the season with a broken leg in Saturday’s game at Lamar. The Bears are already without all-conference quarterback Wynrick Smothers for the year after he broke his ankle the previous week against Nebraska-Kearney.
Dixon led the Bears with six touchdown catches, and was at his best in UCA’s 59-28 loss to McNeese with nine catches for 152 yards.
Despite the latest setback, UCA hung on for a 26-24 win at Lamar.
“Our team showed a lot of heart, a lot of determination,” said UCA coach Clint Conque. “Hopefully we can get a couple guys back this week. We were very pleased to win on the road there.”
The Bears, who have had an anemic rushing attack, were down to two healthy running backs in the second half, forcing Conque to pull a redshirt off freshman Kelton Warren.
• WHAT A BUM: Lamar coach Ray Woodard paid tribute to one of the most beloved icons in Southeast Texas football history with his attire for Saturday’s game.
Woodard donned blue jeans, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat in homage to Bum Phillips, who passed away Friday night at the age of 90.
Born in Orange, Texas, Phillips was a player at Lamar until he joined the Marines after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. He finished his playing career and degree at another Southland school, Stephen F. Austin, after World War II.
Phillips started as a high school coach in Southeast Texas before climbing the ladder to the NFL, where he and running back Earl Campbell became the faces of the Houston Oilers in the late 1970s. Phillips finished his coaching career with the Saints in the ‘80s.
Other than his folksy sayings — for example, “The harder we played, the behinder we got” and “The Dallas Cowboys may be America’s Team, but the Houston Oilers are Texas’ team” — Phillips was best known for his trademark style of boots, jeans and a cowboy hat. Unless, of course, the game was played in a dome, because his mother told him not to wear a hat indoors.
Woodard said he felt the wardrobe was the best way to tip his proverbial hat to Lamar’s most famous football alum.
“He’s somebody that meant a lot to a lot of us around here,” Woodard said. “I’ve known him and (son) Wade forever. I thought it was appropriate. I’ve never worn blue jeans and boots at a football game before, but he was from here. He was one of us. I just thought it was the right thing to do.”
• X-FACTOR: Southeastern Louisiana return man Xavier Roberson was the conference special teams player of the week thanks to his 92-yard kickoff return in the Lions’ 37-22 win at Northwestern State.
The Lions outscored the Demons 30-6 in the second half, with Roberson’s return turning the tide. He has two return touchdowns.
“He has a natural vision for returning kicks. He just does an unbelievable job,” said SLU coach Ron Roberts. “Our unit does a great job getting a hat-on-hat, but he’s just a different person back there. He’s what’s making it go. He’s a spark and a true threat every time he touches the ball.”
• ATTAWAY 10K: SFA quarterback Brady Attaway is second all-time in SLC history with 866 completions, trailing only former Lumberjack Jeremy Moses. He also passed former Texas State signal-caller Bradley George on the all-time yardage list in the Lumberjacks win over Nicholls State, moving into third with 9,558 yards.
Moses and former UCA quarterback Nathan Brown are the only two quarterbacks to surpass the 10,000-yard mark.