McNeese steps out of league play Saturday to host EIU

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McNeese football field

McNeese (1-7, 0-4 SLC) vs. Eastern Illinois (2-6, 1-2 OVC)
Saturday, November 5, 2022 • 7 p.m.
Louis Bonnette Field at Cowboy Stadium (20,000) • Lake Charles, La.

Radio: 92.9 The Lake
Audio Stream: 
Live Stats: LINK
McNeese Game Notes: LINK 
EIU Game Notes: LINK 
GameDay Program: LINK 

LAKE CHARLES – McNeese returns home on Saturday in Cowboy Stadium while stepping out of Southland Conference play to host Eastern Illinois of the Ohio Valley Conference.

The game against the Panthers is part of the SLC/OVC scheduling alliance that was implemented last year for the next two seasons. McNeese will make a return trip to EIU next fall.

The Cowboys (1-7, 0-4 SLC) are coming off a tough 28-27 loss to Southeastern last Saturday while the Panthers (2-6, 1-2 OVC) dropped a 20-17 game to Tennessee State.

• McNeese: Gary Goff (1st season at McNeese, 1-7; 11th season overall, 61-60)
• Eastern Illinois: Christ Wilkerson (1st season at EIU, 2-6; 9th season overall, 53-33)

• McNeese and Eastern Illinois will play for just the third time in the series and the first since the 1993 season.
• The Cowboys won the previous two games (49-7, 1993, in Lake Charles; 15-7, 1990, in Charleston.
• EIU first-year head coach Chris Wilkerson was a member of the Panthers in 1993 when they visited Cowboy Stadium for the first time.

• Senior running back Deonta McMahon was named this week’s Louisiana Sports Writers Association College Football Offensive Player of the Week after his performance against Southeastern this past Saturday.
• McMahon scored three touchdowns – 2 rushing and 1 receiving, rushed for 97 yards and totaled 106 offensive yards.
• He scored on runs of 5 and 3 yards and again on a 5-yard reception.
• Currently No. 1 in the SLC and 21st in FCS with 761 rushing yards and 1st in SLC/22nd FCS with 95.1 rushing yards per game.

• Senior linebacker Kordell Williams has been added to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List as the top defensive player in the FCS.
• Currently 2nd in the SLC with 88 total tackles and with 11.0 tackles per game which ranks him 4th in the FCS.
• Tops the league and is 5th in the FCS with 53 solo tackles and a 6.5 per game average.
• He’s tied for 7th in the Southland with 7.5 tackles for a loss.
• Coming off a 15-tackle game against Southeastern, marking his fifth, double-digit tackle game of the season.

• Saturday’s game against Eastern Illinois will mark the 9th meeting against a member of the Ohio Valley Conference.
• The Cowboys are 6-2 all-time against OVC teams – 2-0 vs. Eastern Illinois, 4-1 vs. UT Martin, and 0-1 vs. Tennessee State.
• The Cowboys’ last matchup against on OVC team was vs. the Panthers in 1993.
• Tennessee State beat McNeese 26-23 in the 1972 Grantland Rice Bowl.

• In all four conference losses, McNeese trailed by one score or led in the fourth quarter (led 27-21 with 13:44 vs. SLU; led 35-34 with 11:15 left at Nicholls; 28-20 at UIW with less than 10 minutes to play; 20-15 vs. TAMUC with 12 minutes remaining).
• After playing its first five games without an interception, McNeese has picked off 7 passes in the last three games and has gone from last in the league to 3rd, just 2 behind leader SLU (9).
• The 3 picks vs. SLU was the first 3-interception game for the Cowboys since picking off 3 at HCU last fall.
• McNeese has scored in all 12 of its red-zone appearances over the last four games with 11 of those scores being TDs (1 FG).
• Averaged 19 points and 309 yards of offense through the first six games of the season… the last two the Cowboys have averaged 31 points and 361 yards of offense.
• Ranked No. 1 in the SLC in fumbles recovered (10), punt return defense (4.4), and turnovers gained (17).

• Member of the Ohio Valley Conference and was selected for a 6th place finish in the preseason poll.
• Coached by Chris Wilkerson who is in his first season as head coach at his alma mater… Wilkerson played for the Panthers and was on the team when EIU came to Lake Charles in the 1993 season… was a defensive lineman and made one tackle in that game.
• Had six players named to the preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference team heading into this season. Wide receiver Isaiah Hill and tight end Jay Vallie were selected on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive linemen Jordan Miles and Tim Varga were joined on the defensive preseason All-OVC team by safety Jordan Vincent and corner Russell Dandy. Transfer Foday Jalloh was named a top newcomer to watch this season.

• Senior RB Deonta McMahon continues to lead the Southland Conference in rushing with a 95.1 yards per game average.
• He’s looking to become the first Cowboy since 2008 (Toddrick Pendland) to win the league rushing title.
• In addition, he also leads the league with 761 total rushing yards and with 151.3 all-purpose yards per game.
• He rushed for a career-high 138 yards in the Sept. 24 win over Mississippi College to mark his 3rd straight 100-yard rushing game, fourth on the season and 6th in his career.
• He has 7, 100-yard rushing games in his career, ranking him tied as the 8th-most in school history.
• His 4, 100-yard games this season ranks as the 4th-most in school history.
• To date, McMahon has rushed for 1,508 yards in his career, ranking him 26th on the school’s career list.
• Attempting to become the first Cowboy player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since the 2015 season (Marcus Wiltz 1,287).
• Has 18 career rushing TDs, needing 2 to break into the top 15 all-time in school record book.

McMahon 100-Yard Career Rushing Games:
121 (25 carries) at Nicholls (Oct. 22, 2022)
138 (12 carries) vs. Mississippi College (Sept. 24, 2022)
102 (10 carries) vs. Alcorn State (Sept. 17, 2022)
101 (5 carries) at Rice (Sept. 10, 2022)
111 (17 carries) vs. Northwestern State (Nov. 20, 2021)
124 (23 carries) at HBU (Nov. 13, 2021)
111 (11 carries) vs. Nicholls (Apr. 3, 2021)

• Senior LB Kordell Williams leads the Cowboys and is ranked No. 2 in the SLC with 88 total tackles.
• He’s 2nd in SLC and 4th FCS with 11.0 tackles per game.
• He has five, 10-tackle games on the season.
• 308 tackles in his career, ranking him 15th on the school’s career list.
• Recorded 10 or more tackles 13 times in his career and since recording his first 10-tackle game, has posted 10 or more in 13 of his last 20 games going back to the 2021 spring season.

TKLS Opponent Date
15 vs. Southeastern 10/29/22
10 vs. TAMU-Commerce 10/15/22
12 vs. Mississippi College 9/24/22
15 vs. Alcorn State 9/17/22
12 at Rice 9/10/22
11 vs. Nicholls 11/6/21
12 at Southeastern 10/30/21
11 vs. UIW 10/23/21
17 vs. Southeastern 10/2/21
10 at UIW 9/25/21
11 at Southern 9/18/21
10 at LSU 9/11/21
13 at Sam Houston 4/10/21

• McNeese scored on its first possession of the game against SLU last Saturday, making it the second time this season the Cowboys scored on their opening drive.
• Cowboys have scored 20 or more first half points in two consecutive games.
• The Cowboys have forced multiple turnovers in all but one game on the season.
• Senior QB Walker Wood started his first game behind center last Saturday and threw his first collegiate TD pass.
• All-conference OL Caron Coleman has started the last three games after missing the first five due to concussion protocol.
• With 761 rushing yards, RB Deonta McMahon is looking to become the first 1,000-yard rusher since the 2013 season (Marcus Wiltz 1,287).
• WR Mason Pierce leads the team with 32 catches, a career high in a season for the RS sophomore and has 852 receiving yards, 148 short of becoming just the 27th player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone.
• Pierce has caught at least one pass in 21 straight games going back to the 2021 spring season.
• McMahon has made at least one catch in 20 consecutive games.
• McMahon has scored 7 touchdowns in the last two games and has at least one rushing TD in five consecutive games.
• WR/KR Aalah Brown returned his first KO of the season against SLU and going for 44 yards.
• OL Calvin Barkat has started 24 straight games.
• OL Cole LeClair has started in 22 straight games (8 at McNeese and 14 at Valdosta State last season).
• Redshirt sophomore DB Darius Shields, RS freshman WR Jon McCall and true freshman DB Crajaun Bennett made their first career starts last Saturday against the Lions.
• Bennett picked off his first collegiate pass against the Lions.
• Sophomore DB Thomas Miles picked off his first career pass against the Lions.
• DB Tyler Barnes has intercepted a pass in three consecutive games and is now 2nd in the conference with 3 total picks.
• LB Kordell Williams has two sacks on the season, both coming in the last three games.
• K Garrison Smith’s 47-yard FG at UIW was the 8th longest in school history (54 is the record by Eric Roberts vs. Northern Iowa in 1991).

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