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Seminole Indian

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BEAUMONT, Texas Coming into Saturday, Lamar ranked 122 out of 123 FCS teams in rush defense allowing 270.6 yards per game.

On Saturday, Central Arkansas took full advantage as the 4th-ranked Bears racked up 332 yards on the ground en route to a season-high 565 yards of offense to roll to a 42-14 victory and extend their winning streak to eight games.

The Bears (8-1, 7-0 Southland) put the game away with a 21-point third quarter to push their lead to 42-7 with more than 20 minutes to go, and cruised to their seventh straight victory against the Cardinals (1-8, 0-7), getting their sixth win of the season by 20 or more points including five in Southland Conference play.

"We had a chance to blow it open early, but we had the pass interference on the (Juan Jackson) Pick-6, had a penalty on a punt return, missed a field goal we left 17 points out there at least in the first half," said head coach Steve Campbell, who improves to 22-3 (.880) in his last 25 Southland games. "But in the second half we came out and went boom, boom, boom. The ones went 3-for-3. It was 21-7 at the half, then we went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown and made it 42, and then made sure all the young guys got to play and i thought they did a good job. It was a good victory, to go on the road and win by 28."

After building a 14-7 lead after one quarter on touchdown runs by Carlos Blackman (9 yards) and Kierre Crossley (40), the Bears were able to go into the locker room with a slightly larger cushion at the half after a 22-yard score from senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand to freshman receiver Brandon Myers, while the defense allowed the Cardinals just 16 yards in the 2nd quarter.

The backbreaker came quickly in the second half, as Blackman picked up his second rushing TD of the night and seventh of the season less than four minutes in; followed by a pair of 19-yard touchdown runs by Cedric Battle less than four minutes apart to give the Bears a 35-point advantage at 42-7 with nearly 6 minutes remaining in the third.

From that point, the Bears were content to grind it out as they threw just three more passes all from redshirt freshman quarterback Breylin Smith. In all, the Bears ran the ball 58 times, averaging 5.7 yards per carry as they put together the program's highest rushing total since head coach Steve Campbell took over prior to the 2014 season. It marks the fourth time under Campbell the Bears have eclipsed the 300-yard rushing mark.

In contrast to the Bears' last trip to Provost Humphrey Stadium in 2015 when Blake Veasley ran for a school-record 292 yards Campbell's club utilized a more balanced attack on Saturday, as no Central Arkansas player eclipsed the 100-yard mark but four had at least 50 yards and another four were in double digits.

Crossley had 97 yards on 12 carries to lead the attack, while Blackman and 58 on 15 carries; Battle added 55 on 6; and Jarvis Cooper rushed 7 times for 53 yards. Wide receiver Lester Wells had one rush for 28 yards, and Smith had 26 on three carries.

Hildebrand finished the game 10 of 15 for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns, with Myers catching three passes for 85 yards to lead the Bears' receiving corps. Wells added two catches for 30 yards, while Brandon Cox had 1 reception for 43 yards and Crossley 1 for 21.
Eric Jackson had 3 sacks on Saturday, bringing his season total to 10 the program's highest total since Jonathan Woodard's 10 in 2014.

The UCA defense held the Cardinals in check all night, limiting the Lamar offense to just 279 total yards 117 below their season average and forcing a pair of turnovers with a fumble forced by Chris Terrell and recovered by Javian Williams, and Brandon Northcross' first career interception. The Cardinals mustered just 26 yards on the ground, and finished with 286 yards fewer than the Bears despite both teams running 76 plays apiece.

The Bear defense registered 11 tackles for loss, including 5 sacks with three coming from Eric Jackson bringing his season total to 10, the most since all-american and NFL draftee Jonathan Woodard's 10 during his Southland Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2014, and just two behind Larry Hart's program D-I record of 12 set in 2008.

"The d-line got after them," Campbell said. "EJ, CT those guys did a really good job. They've been playing well all year we just got to keep getting better. Those guys work tremendously hard in practice and it shows up on Saturday."

The win moves the Bears one step closer to their third Southland Conference championship in the last decade having won in 2008 and 2012, needing a win next week at Incarnate Word to claim at least a share of the title.

The game was the 1000th in the history of Central Arkansas Football, with the Bears moving to 574-384-2 all-time. Since 2001, the Bears have been the winningest program in the state of Arkansas, going 133-65 (.672), including a 92-47 mark since moving to Division I in 2006.

After next weekend's contest at Incarnate Word in San Antonio, the Bears conclude the regular season back at home on The Stripes on Nov. 18 as Abilene Christian visits First Security Field at Estes Stadium.

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