There was no fourth-quarter comeback needed this time for the University of Central Arkansas.
The Bears came into Saturday's game with Lamar with four come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter this season. A rally wasn't needed against the Cardinals, as UCA (7-2, 5-1 Southland Conference) opened a 21-0 advantage after the first quarter and never looked back in the victory at Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont, Texas.
The victory kept the Bears at the top of the Southland Conference standings. They own a one-game lead over three teams: Sam Houston State, which was off Saturday; SE Louisiana, which defeated Stephen F. Austin, 47-30; and Nicholls State after its 27-23 victory over Incarnate Word.
UCA led 31-10 at the half over Lamar (4-5, 2-4). It was just the second time this season the Bears had a lead at intermission.
Sophomore quarterback Breylin Smith and freshman receiver Tyler Hudson had career days for the Bears, whose margin of victory was their largest since they beat Houston Baptist, 66-35, last season.
Smith was 30-of-37 passing for 434 yards and 4 touchdowns. Hudson had 120 yards receiving on 6 receptions with 3 going for touchdowns.
"We haven't had a whole lot of games where we've had a score or two lead," UCA Coach Nathan Brown said in a news release. "But I thought our guys handled it very maturely just like they have in the come-from-behind wins. When the game mattered, we were able to make enough plays to put the momentum on our side, and we took advantage of it."
Smith, who completed passes to 10 different Bears, was 19 of 26 for 325 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half. After Carlos Blackman's 6-yard touchdown run gave the Bears a 7-0 lead, Smith found Hudson for 5- and 64-yard scores for the 21-0 lead.
The teams swapped field goals, and Lamar's Jermaine Givens ran 5 yards for a score to trim the deficit to 24-10 with 3:06 left in the second quarter.
Smith's third touchdown pass of the half went to Sam Carmargo for 1 yard with 21 seconds left as the Bears led 31-10 at intermission.
Smith went over from a yard to push the lead to 38-10, then found Hudson for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:41 left in the third quarter for the Bears' final score.
Lamar's Myles Wanza's 1-yard touchdown run capped the scoring with 37 seconds left in the game.
UCA totaled a season-high 505 yards of offense. Smith has thrown for 839 yards and 8 touchdowns in the past two games, and now has 2,848 passing yards and 24 touchdowns on the season.
"It's a testament to the guys we have around us just making plays," Smith said in the release. "When you have everybody working together, and you have weapons around you like we have, it makes it pretty easy."
UCA's defense held Lamar to 285 yards of offense, including 221 on the ground. The Cardinals' quarterbacks, Shane Johnson and Givens, combined to complete 7 of 16 passes for 64 yards and an interception.
UCA running back Carlos Blackman (23) stretches the ball over the goal line Saturday to score a touchdown during the Bears’ 45-17 victory over Lamar in Beaumont, Texas.
Sports on 11/03/2019
Print Headline: Bears don't wait, beat Cardinals