The University of Central Arkansas Bears struggled in the first half Saturday night in trying to find a high gear against a one-win Lamar team at Beaumont, Texas.
“Then, in the second half, boom, boom, boom,” UCA coach Steve Campbell said after the 42-14 victory at Provost Humphrey Stadium. “Our one-unit went three for three.”
UCA (8-1, 7-0), winning its eighth straight game, led the Cardinals (1-8, 0-7), 21-7 after a so-so half, including a pick-6 called back on an interference penalty and a missed field goal.
“We had our chances to break it open early,” Campbell said. “We left 17 points out there at least.”
The victory kept the Bears in gear on a drive to the SLC title with two games remaining. Ranked No. 4 in all FCS polls, the Bears will likely move up a spot after second-ranked North Dakota State’s loss to South Dakota State.
UCA amassed 565 yards of offense, 332 on the ground. The Bears held Lamar to a net 26 yards rushing.
“Our D-line got after them,” Campbell said. “But they’ve been playing well all year.”
No back for UCA rushed for more than 100 yards, but they have four with more than 50 in a game in which the entire roster played. Kierre Crossley rushed for 97 yards on 12 carries. Carlos Blackman rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries. Cedric Battle rushed for 55 yards on six carries and Jarvis Cooper had 53 on seven carries.
Hayden Hildebrand completed 10 of 15 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Eight different receivers caught passes.
Leading 14-7 late in the second half on touchdown runs by Blackman and Crossley, UCA got some separation when Hildebrand connected with a wide-open Brandon Myers for a 20-yard touchdown.
In the second half, the Bears drove 75 yards in 10 plays with Hildebrand connecting with Blackman on a 5-yard TD pass. They took a 42-7 lead on the next two possessions that led to two 19-yard touchdown runs by Battle.
The fourth quarter was a formality with multiple substitutions for UCA.
George Odum led the defense with 10 tackles.
UCA continues its road swing Saturday against Incarnate Word in San Antonio.