McNeese shut out at UIW, 31-0

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SAN ANTONIO – Incarnate Word scored on the game’s opening possession then recovered a live ball off a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff which led to another touchdown and a quick 14-0 lead, paving the way for a 31-0 win over McNeese in the Southland Conference opener for both teams.

McNeese (1-3, 0-1) dropped its third straight game in the series with the Cardinals, who improve to 3-1 (1-0) on the season with their third consecutive win. It’s the first shutout loss by the Cowboys since a 35-0 loss to Central Arkansas in 2016.

The Cowboys trailed 21-0 at the half and came out in the second half with an up-tempo offense that saw them move the ball from their own 35 to the UIW 18, but a fourth-and-1 attempt fell just short of the mark and turned the ball over to the Cardinals.

UIW scored on the next possession when quarterback Cameron Ward completed an 11-yard catch and run pass to Taylor Grimes to make it a 28-0 lead.

The Cowboys had another nice drive late in the third quarter but facing a second down at the UIW 31, Orgeron’s pass would be picked off a the 20. That snapped Orgeron’s school record streak at 203 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.

Ward finished the game 29 of 49 for 352 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, the Cardinals held a 468-290 advantage in total offensive yards. Orgeron completed 22 of 36 passes for 215 yards and an interception.

UIW scored on its opening possession after putting together a 12-play, 75-yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the board. The Cowboys nearly came up with an interception after Ward was pressured into forcing a pass that was tipped by Darius Daniels and almost picked off by Andre Sam.

A pooched kick-off by the Cardinals landed without a Cowboy fielding the ball and UIW recovering at the 9-yard line. Four plays later, the Cardinals scored on a 1-yard run by Taylor Grimes to take a 14-0 lead with 8:52 to play in the first quarter.

McNeese was forced to punt following its first offensive possession of the game and UIW seemed prime to go up 21-0, but the Cowboy defense came up with a big stop to force a 30-yard field goal, which sailed wide left and McNeese took over at its own 25 with 5:51 to play in the opening quarter.

The Cowboys had an opportunity to get on the board with a drive that moved the ball to the UIW 13, but a 30-yard field goal attempt by Jacob Abel missed left.

UIW answered with its third TD of the half when Ward escaped a sack and found former Cowboy receiver Trevor Begue for a 56-yard catch and run and increase the lead to 21-0 with 2:47 to play in the first half.

After forcing the Cowboys to punt it away with 1:24 to play, UIW marched down the field and attempted a 20-yard field goal that was blocked by McNeese’s Dontay Hargrove.

McNeese returns home next Saturday for a noon kickoff against Southeastern Louisiana.

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