LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - McNeese’s return to Cowboy Stadium wasn’t what it was hoped to be as Incarnate Word quarterback Cameron Ward led his team to a 48-20 win over the No. 19 Cowboys in the Southland Conference opener for both teams in front of a COVID restricted crowd of 2,394.
Ward completed 24 of 35 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns while the Cardinals got a 100-yard kickoff return by Ce’Cori Tolds after McNeese cut the UIW lead to 10-3 early in the first.
“Rough one. Rough one today. Took one on the chin from a very quality opponent,” said head coach Frank Wilson. “It’s the second time we’ve played this team in the last three years and they’ve had their way with us. We have to do a better job of putting our kids in position to make plays. We have to do a better job of execution.
“In culminating of it all, when you talk about the keys to victory, we have to eliminate their big plays and to be able to create big plays for ourselves. They had several big plays and we did not have enough, and even when we did, it was only for us to come back and self inflict with the negative plays.”
McNeese trailed 31-3 at the half but scored on its second possession of the third quarter on a beautifully orchestrated 17-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown run by Carlos Williams to cut the margin to 31-10.
On the ensuing UIW possession, it appeared the Cowboy defense would hold once again when the Cardinals missed on a 48-yard field goal attempt. But an inadvertent whistle by the side judge allowed UIW to take another try at the points, this time Carson Mohr’s field goal splitting the uprights to make it a 34-10 game with 28 seconds to play in the third.
McNeese added a 27-yard field goal by Jacob Abel with 8:34 to play in the fourth to cut UIW’s lead to 41-13, then Cowboys’ quarterback Cody Orgeron bulled his way into the endzone from 12 yards out with 4:21 remaining to make it a 41-20 game.
UIW added an unnecessary TD with 33 seconds left on a 3-yard pass. McNeese had no timeouts remaining at that point.
Orgeron had another big offensive game for McNeese, racking up 274 total yards – 72 rushing and 202 passing. The Cowboys had 171 yards on the ground for the game. He became just the 11th player in school history to top 3,000 career passing yards and is now ranked in the top 10 all-time with 3,144.
Tight end Jamal Pettigrew led the receivers with seven catches for 48 yards while Josh Matthews reeled in 65 yards receiving on four catches. Trevor Begue added two catches for 44 yards.
Defensively, Darius Daniels led the way with nine tackles while Mason Kinsey added seven stops and a sack. Earenest Grayson recorded a solo sack in the game while CJ Semien, Masry Mapieu, Isaiah Chambers and Accord Green each collected a half sack.
Saturday’s game was the first to be played in Cowboy Stadium since Nov. 2, 2019.
McNeese will return to action next Saturday when it visits Southeastern Louisiana to continue Southland Conference play.