HAMMOND – A reversal of misfortune for the 11th-ranked McNeese Cowboys late in the third quarter here Saturday afternoon proved to be the most crucial moment of the game as the Cowboys dropped a 28-9 game to No. 10 Southeastern Louisiana to eliminate the Cowboys from Southland Conference title contention.
Following an 8-play, 68-yard drive at the end of the first half that took 1:31 off the clock and ended with a 34-yard Jean Breaux field goal to cut SLU's lead to 14-9 at the break, the Cowboys came out of the locker room with renewed energy and held the Lions (8-3, 6-1 SLC) off the scoreboard for the better part of two quarters.
Facing a 2nd-and-10 at its own 11-yard line, SLU's Brian Bennett connected with Dylan Bossier for a 30-yard gain. McNeese's Brent Spikes got the tackle of Bossier and lost the ball when he hit the ground. Wallace Scott scooped up the ball and returned it down to the 2-yard line where it would set the Cowboys up perfectly to take the lead. After a lengthy replay review, the call was overturned and ruled Bossier was down when the ball popped loose. Two series later, the Lions went up 21-9 then closed things out with a 55-yard pass from Bennett to Devante Scott to make it 28-9.
McNeese (6-4) dropped its second consecutive game on the year, the first time that has happened since the 2012 season, and lost for the third straight year to the Lions.
The Cowboys finished with 311 offensive yards while SLU put up 324. The Cowboys were held to their lowest rushing total of the season with 95 yards on 31 attempts. Dylan Long led the way with 54 yards while Ryan Ross added 45 yards. Kelvin Bennett did not play in the game and Derrick Milton had just three carries for four yards. And Daniel Sams, who injured his throwing thumb last week, carried the ball just twice for zero yards.
The passing game was a tad bit better as Tyler Bolfing and Will Briscoe combined to complete 17 of 42 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Briscoe played most of the fourth quarter when Bolfing went out with an injury he suffered after being sacked with just over 10 minutes to play.
SLU totaled 131 rushing and 193 passing yards for the game.
Bennett completed 10 of 18 passes for 185 yards and four touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 41 yards on nine carries.
The Lions looked like they were on their way to a big win after scoring 14 points in the first quarter behind touchdown passes of 8 and 18 yards from Bennett, but the Cowboys controlled the second quarter and closed the gap following a 26-yard Bolfing pass to Khalil Thomas then Breaux's field goal to pull McNeese to within 14-9 at the half.
McNeese was blanked in the second half for the second time in the last three games and has scored just seven second-half points during that span.
The Cowboys will close out the season next Saturday when they host Lamar at 6 p.m. McNeese will honor its seniors in a pregame ceremony.