McNeese hosts HBU for first-ever football meeting
LAKE CHARLES – McNeese will play its final home football game in nearly a month when it hosts Houston Baptist for the first-ever meeting at 6 p.m. Saturday night in Cowboy Stadium in a Southland Conference contest.
Following Saturday’s game, the Cowboys will hit the road to Stephen F. Austin and Abilene Christian, then will have an open date before returning home on October 21 against Incarnate Word for Homecoming.
The game will air live on the McNeese Radio Network (92.9 FM The Lake) as well as being televised on Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Suddenlink 134, DirecTV 676-2, Dish Network 446).
McNeese (2-1, 0-1) won its second straight game of the season after defeating Alcorn State 34-27 on the road last Saturday. In that game, quarterback James Tabary became the first QB in McNeese history to record his fifth 300-yard passing game after he threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns. Tabary was named the league’s offensive player of the week while garnering national honorable mention honors for his play.
Defensively, the Cowboys held the Braves to just seven yards rushing, marking the seventh time in the last 10 games McNeese has held its opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground. The Cowboys run defense will enter Saturday’s game ranked first in the conference and fifth nationally by allowing 43.7 yards per game rushing.
“It’s exciting to get to play somebody we haven’t played before,” said head coach Lance Guidry. “There’s no doubt they’re going to come in here and give us their best. They have a really good linebacker (Garrett Dolan) who is an All-American and will end up his career as the team’s all-time leading tackler.
“Offensively, they’ll mix it up with some running and passing. They have a good running back (James Brown) and last week played two quarterbacks, but they’re the same style of player.”
The Huskies (1-2, 0-1) fell 24-3 at Abilene Christian last week in their conference opener and in a game where ACU was breaking in a brand new stadium.
Brown tops the team in rushing with 158 yards and a 6.3 yards per carry average while Terrance Peters has run for 130 yards and a 4.5 ypc mark.
Bailey Zappe is the quarterback and has completed 44 of 86 passes for 481 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
As a team, the Huskies average 266 yards per game on offense while allowing 340 yards.
At Alcorn, the Cowboys played without 12 players who either start or contribute in a big way. Some of those are expected back on Saturday, but if not, Guidry has every bit of confidence in the backups and younger players.
“The next man has to rise up,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting with the media. “That’s what I told some of the young corners and the young defensive backs. When they get the opportunity they need to make the play.”
Several made big plays at Alcorn, one that likely saved the game when sophomore cornerback Calum Foster intercepted a pass at the 3-yard line with the game tied midway through the fourth quarter.
Two series later, Tabary connected with Kent Shelby on a 33-yard highlight reel touchdown pass with 26 seconds to play to give the Cowboys the win.
“We fought to the very end, and that was great to see,” said Guidry.
• TE Lawayne Ross leads all Southland Conference tight ends with 13 receptions on the season, more than double the second player on the list.
• WR Kenty Shelby has caught at least one pass in 27 straight games.
• With 1,473 career receiving yards, Shelby needs 71 to move into 10th on the school’s career list.
• Since scoring just 3 TDs in 8 red-zone appearances against Nicholls in the season opener, the Cowboys have scored 8 TDs in 10 appearances the last two games.
• The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points in seven straight games dating to last season and going 5-2 in those outings. McNeese is 18-2 in the last 20 games when scoring 30 or more and 47-3 in the last 50.
• Redshirt freshman WR Cyron Sutton has caught a TD pass in back-to-back games. He’s the first freshman to do that since RB Champlain Babin in 2009.
• McNeese’s defense has intercepted at least one pass in all three games this season. The Cowboys have not picked off passes in four straight games since the 2014 season when they intercepted passes in eight consecutive contests.
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