No. 20 UCA Bears vs. Lamar Cardinals
Provost Umphrey Stadium, Beaumont, Texas, Saturday, 6 p.m.
UCA coach Clint Conque made it to 100 victories as head coach of the Bears with the 17-13 win over Missouri State on Sept 21.
His teams have won at least eight games eight times, including an 11-3 mark in 2005, which tied the school record for victories.
The Bears have recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons over the past two years, advancing to the second round of the FCS Playoffs both years.
Conque, in his 14th season. is the winningest coach in UCA football history. He has beaten 43 different teams from 18 states. The most is eight victories against Henderson State. Fifty-six of those wins were at the Division I level and 44 at the D-II level.
Only two coaches in Arkansas collegiate history have won 100 games; Frank Broyles won 144 in 19 seasons at Arkansas. The percentage of active Division I coaches with 100 or more wins at their current school is just 9.1 percent.
The Bears have scored an average of 39.8 points and allowed an average of 18.4 in the 100 wins, for an average margin of victory of 21.3 points. UCA has scored at least 50 points 18 times and has posted shutouts six times. The Bears have won 47 games by at least three touchdowns.
UCA has three overtime victories during that span, as well as three one-point victories, including the McNeese State game in 2012.
THE SERIES: The Bears lead the overall series with the Cardinals 2-0, with both games coming since UCA joined the Southland Conference in 2006 and Lamar revived its football program in 2010.
LAST WEEK: UCA’s defense stifled the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers and pitched a shutout in a 31-0 victory at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.
The Bears allowed just 169 yards of offense and 10 first downs. The Lopers, an NCAA Division II team, had just 97 yards heading into the fourth quarter.
UCA piled up 462 yards of offense, with a season-high 175 rushing yards. Junior PK Eddie Camara had a 21-yard field goal, senior QB Wynrick Smothers had a 7-yard rushing TD, junior RB Willie Matthews a 6-yard run, senior TE an 8-yard TD pass from Ryan Howard and sophomore RB Blake Veasley added an 8-yard TD run to round out the scoring.
Smothers completed 22 of 34 passes for 177 yards before leaving with an injury. A trio of QBs completed passes to 11 different receivers, led by freshman Jatavious Wilson with 6 catches for 54 yards.
Sophomore LB D.J. Holland led the defense with 9 tackles (2 for loss). Freshman S Tirell Wellmaker had 6 tackles (1 for loss) in his first career start in place of senior Jestin Love (hamstring).
QB BATTLE: The battle for the quarterback spot is now between fourth-year junior Ryan Howard (Vestavia Hills, Ala.) and sophomore transfer Taylor Reed (El Dorado).
Howard (5-11, 194) has the most experience in the system, having played in two games in 2011 and four games last season. Howard was 7 of 8 for 91 yards last season, with 1 TD and 1 INT. This season, he is 10 of 17 for 127 yards, with 2 TDs and 0 INT in three games. Howard threw for more than 4,000 yards with 37 touchdowns at Vestavia Hills.
Reed, a 6-3, 215-pound transfer from the University of Arkansas, is 7 of 9 for 111 yards and a TD in three games this season. He redshirted at Arkansas in 2012 after starting nine games at Memphis in 2011. Reed completed 169 of 295 passes for 1,690 yards and 10 TDs at Memphis before an injury ended his season. He played in three state championship games at El Dorado, winning twice.
Also in the mix is former quarterback-turned-wide receiver Jacoby Walker, also an Arkansas transfer. Walker, a junior from Houston, Texas, could see action in a "Wildcat" role.
INJURY BUG: The Bears have been bitten heavily by the injury bug this season.
UCA has lost four players for the season, three on the defensive side of the ball. Senior cornerback Dominique Brown will miss the remainder of the season after a knee injury in the Colorado game. Redshirt freshman linebacker Aum’Arie Wallace is also out after breaking his ankle against the Buffaloes.
Senior safety Karl Brady injured his knee at Missouri State and is out for the remainder of the season. Senior QB Wynrick Smothers broke his ankle last Saturday against Nebraska-Kearney.
Also missing time due to injuries have been RB Danzel Williams, offensive linemen Kyle Stouffer, Lance Kloker and Bryan Manley, WR Dezmin Lewis, S Jestin Love and others.
ODDS & ENDS: UCA’s next four games are on TV, either Southland TV, Comcast Sportnet-Houston or ESPN3… UCA pitched its first shutout last week since a 34-0 victory over Northwesteren State on Oct. 10, 2009… The Bears had a season-high 175 rushing yards against Nebraska-Kearney… UCA’s defense held UNK to just 10 first downs, the lowest opponent total since Bacone College had just 5 on Sept. 15, 2012… UCA allowed a 46-yard punt return last week vs. UNK. The Bears entered the game allowing 4 total punt return yards all season… UCA ran a school-record 106 offensive plays last week, accounting for 644 total yards. The Bears had a game’s worth of offense at halftime (64 pays, 496 yards) but still trailed 42-21… The teams combined for 1,239 yards of offense. McNeese averaged 9.2 yards per play, UCA averaged 6.1… TE Chase Dixon caught a career-high 9 catches for 149 yards against McNeese, one of the top performances by a TE in school history… Senior QB Wynrick Smothers threw a school-record 65 passes and finished with a school-record 524 yards of total offense, breaking the single-game mark held by current QB coach Nathan Brown (490, vs. Presbyterian, 2005)… Dixon now has 9 TDs in 30 career catches after grabbing a 12-yarder against UTM, an 11-yarder against CU, an 8-yarder vs. MSU, a 3-yarder vs. McNeese and an 8-yarder vs. UNK… The Bears are last in the SLC rushing offense (109) but are finally averaging in double figures… UCA is No. 1 in red-zone defense (8 of 13, 61.5%) allowing 6 TDs and 2 FGs… UCA had its second 85+ yard kickoff return of the season against the Buffs when sophomore Dillion Winfrey returned one 88 yards. Jatavious Wilson had a 93-yarder for a TD in the opener… The crowd of 35,168 at Colorado was the third largest crowd to ever watch the Bears. Ole Miss drew 50,544 in 2012 and Hawaii had 35,751 in 2009.
NATIONAL POLLS: The Bears, who closed the 2012 season ranked 10th in the two national FCS polls, were ranked No. 6 and No. 7 in the FCS preseason polls this summer. UCA stands No. 20 in both the FCS Coaches Poll and The Sports Network poll.
UCA will play seven teams this season that were either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason polls. That includes two-time national runnerup Sam Houston State in the regular-season finale on Nov. 23. The Bears also faced FBS Colorado on the road in Week 2. UCA has finished in the Top 25 in four of its seven seasons at the NCAA Division I level.