PINEVILLE, La. – The stage couldn't have been better set for Louisiana College quarterback Ben McLaughlin. The Dierks, Ark., native and senior entered LC's Saturday afternoon Homecoming showdown with Howard Payne University just 77 yards short of the American Southwest Conference career passing yards record, a record that was held by a former member of the Howard Payne football program.
He responded with 491 yards passing and six touchdowns en route to setting the new conference passing record, which had been 10,246 yards, at 10,660 (with 96 career touchdowns) and set the new conference mark on a 75-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Williams in a game that LC eventually won 62-28.
In recognition of this accomplishments, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association named McLaughlin it Co-Offensive player of the week along with Nicholls State quarterback Ross Jenkins. It was the first time in school history that a Wildcat earned LSWA Offensive Player of the Week.
McLaughlin, who's averaged more than 300 yards passing per game in his career, one that was broken into two segments (2006-07 and 2009-10), beat out players from Louisiana's NCAA Division I schools to earn the award.
"It's just another in a long line of accomplishments for a quality student-athlete and quality young man," Louisiana College coach Dennis Dunn said. "In my opinion, it couldn't happen to a better person. He's so humble and such a team player that he'll make every individual accomplishment a team accomplishment."
True to his coach's words, McLaughlin said he wanted very little of the credit for the record .
"Well, the one thing about us quarterbacks is that we can only do half of the work," McLaughlin said. "Someone has to catch the ball and run with it. I've been fortunate in both of my stints here to have very talented people to handle that job.
"When I came in as a red-shirt freshman, 19 years old, we had some great veteran receivers who really carried the load for me, guys like Justin Joseph, Dexter Falgoust and Henry Hunter. When I came back last year, we were running a slightly different offense, but we still had some of the most talented receivers I've ever been around. Certainly, this year we have some of the most talented players I've ever played with, both at receiver and on the offensive line. That makes my job a lot easier and makes me look a lot better."
While McLaughlin got the lion's share of the attention for setting the record, don't look for any jealousy from his teammates.
"Ben is very deserving of this," junior wide receiver Dayne Reeves said. "He's probably the smartest person I've ever played with. He can tell you what everyone is going to do on every play, backs, receivers and linemen. He seldom makes a mistake on his own. When he gets intercepted, it's almost always either our fault or the line.
"I'm happy that he's got the career passing yards record. That's something special. The ASC is ranked as one of the toughest conferences in all of Division III, so for Ben to get this will say a lot not only about him but for how far we've come, and how far we can go in the future, as a program."
McLaughlin entered the 2010 season with 8,285 career passing yards, 1,961 yards away from former record holder Adam King, of Howard Payne.
Through the first six games of the Wildcats' 2010 campaign, McLaughlin has amassed 2,375 yards and 27 touchdowns on 175-of-285 passing with just eight interceptions.
Those gaudy numbers, however, are small potatoes for the small-town signal caller compared to what he sees as the most meaningful statistic for himself and all the Wildcats, wins and losses.
Currently, Louisiana College sits at 3-3 overall and are tied for second in the American Southwest Conference with an 3-1 record in ASC play.
"Honestly, if I had thrown for 76 yards and we still got the victory, I would have been as happy as anything," McLaughlin said. "A record is a wonderful thing, but the real joy of being a part of this team is working collectively with my teammates to be successful."