Hall of Fame Game marks first victory

Darren Johnson led the team with a career-high 176 rushing yards in the Hall of Fame game against Lamar University. The Lions won 49-21. Nikisun Shrestha/The Lion's Roar

The Lions football team outrushed Lamar University during the Hall of Fame game in the past weekend to set up a 49-21 victory. This was the first win of the season for the team.

Redshirt junior running back Darren Johnson, who led the team with career-high 176 rushing yards out of the team total of 366 yards, gave his thoughts on the victory.

“It feels good,” said Johnson. “We definitely needed it. Coming off three losses, we definitely needed something to get us back going and get us back on the right track, and I think that we did that tonight. We came out here and played with max effort, and our team is ready to get it rolling.”

After coming out on the losing end of some close games, Head Coach Ron Roberts thought the victory was important for the team.

“The players were frustrated,” said Roberts. “So, I’m really happy for them more than anything. They need to get some type of payback for all the work they put in. Come up short in two close ones, so right now, it’s just good to get this one behind us.”

The game saw sophomore quarterback Lorenzo Nunez make his second start under center in the season. He described the key element that led to the victory.

“It feels good,” said Nunez. “Should have been second or third. We worked pretty hard on the practice for the team, and we accomplished what we practiced. We did our goal. Really just did what the coaches told us to do. We executed the game plan that we did on practice, and everybody in the team did a really good job of doing that.”

With the Lions having their difficulty on offense in the previous games, a difference in intensity led them to record their highest score of the season.

“I think we responded well,” said Johnson. “We definitely didn’t let any of their touchdowns take part in the effort we gave in offense. We definitely wanted to get the ball into the end zone every time we got it. I say we played like that and did the best we could.”

Roberts commended the effort put in by his team and gave his thoughts on having multiple quality running backs.

“Yeah, that’s a nice luxury,” said Roberts. “We know we’ve got multiple guys that are really good players, and one guy is sitting there too. I feel more comfortable with stable running backs, and we’ve got enough depth to overcome any situation.”

Nunez also complimented the effort put in by the running backs in the game.

“It takes a lot of pressure off of me, which means I don’t have to run the ball and the defense,” said Nunez. “They have to actually guard me and the running back, which is pretty hard.”

During the half time, former university atheletes were inducted into the 2017 Athletics Hall of Fame class, women’s soccer member Kari Yost, football member Tommy Connors and baseball player Cass Hargis. The game also marked the Military Appreciation Day.

Nunez believes the victory sent out a message for the rest of the season.

“I think that we showed the teams that we are better than the last three weeks that we’ve been playing,” said Nunez. “It shows them that we can score and we can drop the ball down the field. We are a team to reckon with.”   

Johnson said the team just needs to continue to work hard for rest of the season.

“Just continue to practice hard on practice,” said Johnson. “We had a great week of practice this week. That’s what is important for us: to come in and play hard on Saturdays. Just practice, great preparation and come out for game day.”

The Lions play Northwestern State University next on Saturday, Sept. 30.