Record night as Cowboys down UIW 55-7 for Homecoming win

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LAKE CHARLES – McNeese’s D.W.A. (Defense With Attitude) made NCAA history on Saturday night when it returned four pass interceptions for touchdowns which helped sparked the 19th-ranked Cowboys to a 55-7 Homecoming win over Incarnate Word and setting up a Southland Conference showdown at first place Central Arkansas next Saturday.

The four pick-sixes tied an all-division NCAA record which had first been set by Houston in 1987. Millikin of the Division III ranks tied the mark in 1999 while Northwestern State (2003) and Nicholls (2007) matched it while setting a new Southland Conference record. Now the Cowboys join the group as one of five schools in NCAA history to ever achieve the feat.

“I’ve seen a lot of football but I’ve never seen anything like that,” said head coach Lance Guidry. “That’s a bunch of interceptions for touchdowns. I remember back in 2001, Stephen F. Austin had three pick-sixes against us, but I’ve never heard of four. I imagined it had to be close to a record.”

In all, McNeese intercepted five UIW passes on the night marking the most picks in a game since intercepting five against Incarnate Word in the 2014 season.

The win was the sixth straight for the Cowboys (6-1, 4-1 SLC) as they remain in title contention. UIW fell to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in league play.

The only bright spot for the Cardinals came on the game’s opening kickoff when Desmond Hite took the kick from his own 4-yard line and returned it 96 yards for the score to give UIW a quick 7-0 lead.

McNeese got on the board by way of a 35-yard field goal from Gunnar Raborn to make it 7-3 with 4:50 to play in the first quarter then the first of two consecutive pick-sixes was made when Calum Foster stepped in front of a Sean Brophy pass and returned it 42 yards for the score to make it 10-7.

On UIW’s next possession and facing a second-and-10 at its own 47, Brophy was again picked off, this time by Colby Burton who sprinted his way 51 yards for the score and to give his Cowboys a 17-7 lead just 1:48 after Foster’s score.

Dominique Hill added a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown with 8:45 to play in the third quarter to make it 45-7, then with 7:01 to play in the fourth quarter, backup linebacker Marcus Foster picked off a pass and scampered 29 yards for a score to cap the game’s scoring.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before,” said quarterback James Tabary who completed 17 of 33 passes for 276 yards and a touchdown.

Tabary played just the first two series in the second half before giving way to Joe Lissard and Cody Orgeron but completed all three of his passes in those two drives, leading the Cowboys to touchdowns in both.

McNeese led 24-7 at the half and quickly went up 38-7 with two scores within four minutes of each other.

David Hamm scored the first touchdown of the second half on a 54-yard run up the middle to score with 13:44 to play. Then Tabary found Justin Pratt for a 7-yard score with 9:49 to play. That was followed by Hill’s interception score as the Cowboys put 21 points up in the third quarter.

Raborn hit a 30-yard field goal with 8:43 to play in the fourth quarter to make it a 48-7 game then Foster’s interception return for a touchdown less than two minutes later closed out the scoring at 55-7.

Hamm led all rushers with 91 yards on 11 carries while Pratt, who entered the game ranked No. 1 in the league in rushing, had eight carries for 30 yards. Overall, McNeese rushed for 157 yards on 31 carries for a 5.1 yards per carry average.

Kent Shelby led seven receivers who caught passes with six catches for 63 yards while Lawayne Ross made five grabs for a game-high 96 yards.

As a team, McNeese put up 478 total offensive yards, 321 of those passing as Lissard added 45 yards on 4 of 8 completions.

UIW managed just 149 total yards – 84 rushing and 65 passing.

• McNeese’s defense has held its last four opponents scoreless in the second half.
• The defense has given up a total of 10 points in the last 16 quarters of play.
• Saturday night was the second time this year McNeese’s defense has not allowed a point in the game.
• The defense has allowed a total of 643 combined offensive yards over the last four games – a 160.1 ypg average.
• Kent Shelby extended his streak to 31 straight games with a reception.
• With his TD pass tonight, James Tabary has tied Scott Pendarvis for fourth on the school’s career TD passes list with 39.
• Tabary’s 276 passing yards on the night increases his career total to 4,660 and moving him into seventh on the McNeese career list, passing Slade Nagle.
• McNeese won its sixth consecutive Homecoming game and is now 54-19-1 in all-time Homecoming outings.
• The win gave the Cowboys their 13th consecutive winning season – 4th longest streak among active FCS programs.

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