HOUSTON — About the only thing that slowed down the sixth-ranked Houston Cougars on Saturday was bad weather that led to a 3 1/2-hour delay.
The Cougars easily overcame the absence of injured quarterback Greg Ward Jr. as well as the marathon lightning delay for a 42-0 victory over Lamar.
“I’m really proud of the entire team really for handling that kind of adversity,” coach Tom Herman said. “We train for that kind of chaos.”
With Ward on the sideline nursing an injured right shoulder, backup Kyle Postma ran 39 yards for a score in the first quarter in a game that lasted six hours, 18 minutes.
The Cougars had three players top 100 yards rushing for the first time since 1974, and piled up 381 yards on the ground. Kevrin Justice had 111 yards and two touchdowns, freshman Mulbah Car added 109 yards and a score in his debut and Postma scrambled for a career-high 106 yards with two TDs.
Dark clouds descended on the stadium soon after Postma’s score, and a lightning strike forced the game to be suspended at 11:36 a.m. with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
Multiple lightning strikes followed, pushing the game back again and again. It wasn’t raining at the beginning of the delay, and fans remained in their seats despite a warning to move to the concourse. It was a festive atmosphere, with many fans chanting and dancing, and at one point doing the wave.
But it began to rain at about 1:30 p.m. and chased all but a few fans out of their seats. By the time the game resumed at 3:12 p.m., the once mostly-full stands were dotted with many empty seats. The official time of the delay was three hours, 36 minutes.
The Cougars passed the time during the delay receiving some extra coaching, listening to music and even dancing. They also had some chicken sandwiches delivered as lunchtime came and went with no end to the delay in sight.
“Everybody made the most of it,” linebacker Steven Taylor said.
It didn’t take Houston (2-0) long to get going after the delay, and a touchdown dive by Justice made it 14-0 with less than a minute left in the first quarter.
That score was the first of three straight touchdowns, which included a second score from Justice, which pushed the lead to 28-0 at halftime.
“We kind of wore down,” Lamar coach Ray Woodard said. “I was proud of our effort, but we just got outmanned today.”
The Cougars answered those who wondered if they would suffer a letdown after their huge win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma last week, or be looking past the FCS Cardinals (0-2) toward Thursday’s American Athletic Conference opener at Cincinnati.
Herman said that Ward would have played had Saturday’s game been a conference game and that he’d return against Cincinnati.
He believes his team can be much better despite coasting to Saturday’s win.
“To win a game 42-0 and still have that much work to do is a definite eye-opener for our guys,” he said.
LAMAR: The Cardinals should benefit from the experience of facing a top 10 team when they open Southland Conference play next week.
HOUSTON: The Cougars did what they were supposed to do against a lesser opponent and were able to give some of their banged-up starters a little bit of a break with a quick turnaround.
YES, THEY’RE RELATED
In case you’re wondering, Lamar quarterback Carson Earp, who started but threw for just 14 yards while splitting time with Andrew Allen, is related to infamous Old West lawman Wyatt Earp.
The senior and the man known for his part in the legendary battle at the O.K. Corral are distant cousins.
The propensity for people to refer to quarterbacks as gunslingers seems a little silly when compared to the likes of Wyatt Earp, who was literally a gunslinger in the wild West.
The only area where Houston struggled on Saturday was in the kicking game. Ty Cummings was 12 for 12 in his career before missing field goals attempts from 31 and 25 yards against Lamar.
The Cougars should maintain their position in the poll after getting a lopsided win against a team they were supposed to beat.
LAMAR: The Cardinals host Sam Houston State on Saturday.
HOUSTON: The Cougars play at Cincinnati Thursday.
“It was 511? It seemed like about 1,511,” Woodard said about Houston’s total yardage.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org