Bulletin Staff Report
Pursuing consecutive victories for the first time in 11 months, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets were turned back by the Louisiana College Wildcats, 43-36, on homecoming Saturday at Gordon Wood Stadium.
Coming off a 48-47 American Southwest Conference overtime win at Hardin-Simmons, the Yellow Jackets (1-7, 1-5) suffered their fifth loss by seven points or less this season. Meanwhile, Louisiana College (3-5, 2-4) snapped its three-game skid behind its highest point output of the season.
Howard Payne jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, but trailed 21-20 at halftime and got further behind as the game progressed.
The Yellow Jackets finished with 487 yards of total offense, but turned the ball over three times. Defensively, HPU yielded 428 yards but recovered two fumbles.
Jason Lovvorn completed 37-of-58 passes for 440 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jordan Beard grabbed a team-high 12 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, while Zach Howard also had 110 yards receiving on 11 catches. Edward Cody finished with four grabs for 43 yards, while Justin Havard caught his first touchdown and collected three receptions for 45 yards.
Howard Payne generated just 47 yards rushing as a team. Howard tallied 53 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
LC quarterback Ben McLaughlin connected on 21-of-30 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Derek Lewis also completed 4-of-5 tosses for 54 yards with a score.
Thomas Bachman led the Wildcat receiving corps with seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, while Justin Johnson also caught seven passes for 96 yards with two scores. Taylor Huffman added six receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats finished with 101 yards rushing, led by 68 and a touchdown from Bobby Rose.
HPU took a two-touchdown advantage just 5:58 into the contest on runs of 1 and 9 yards by Howard and Lovvorn, respectively. Lovvorn’s run capped a seven-play, 32-yard drive that started when the Wildcats fumbled the kickoff following HPU’s first touchdown.
Louisiana College roared back with three consecutive touchdowns. Bachman caught scoring tosses of 20 and 3 yards from McLaughlin and Lewis, respectively, while Jerrick Taylor rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats up 21-13 with 7:01 left in the first half.
The Yellow Jackets trimmed the deficit to 21-20 prior to halftime on a 17-yard Lovvorn to Howard pass with 36 seconds left in the second period.
Howard Payne regained the lead, 23-21, on a Jordan Bullard 35-yard field goal at the 10:26 mark of the third quarter, but 24 seconds later LC was back in front, 28-23, following a 14-yard McLaughlin pass to Johnson.
The Yellow Jackets had one more surge in them and grabbed a 29-28 advantage on a 1-yard Howard run with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
But the Wildcats answered with a pair of touchdowns — McLaughlin passes of 9 and 21 yards to Huffman and Johnson, respectively — to open a 43-29 lead with 6:04 remaining.
Havard grabbed a 7-yard touchdown reception from Lovvorn with 4:46 left, but the Yellow Jackets could not complete the comeback.
Howard Payne will head to Mississippi College (6-2, 4-2) — which knocked off East Texas Baptist, 45-21, on Saturday — next weekend, then close out the season at home against No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor (7-1, 6-0) on Nov. 10. UMHB suffered a 41-14 non-conference loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater on Saturday.