LAKE CHARLES, La. (PSN) — The No. 16 UIW Cardinals were punched in the mouth early and never recovered, falling 28-20 to the McNeese State Cowboys at Cowboy Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The loss snaps a five-game winning streak for the Cardinals, who fell for the first time since September 2 to Youngtown State. The defeat is the first for UIW in Southland Conference play as they chase Southeastern Louisana (5-1, 3-0) for the conference title.
McNeese started the game strong when Mason Kinsey picked off UIW quarterback Cam Ward. That led Cowboys quarterback Cody Orgeron to find Jamal Pettigrew for a 49-yard touchdown reception, putting the Cowboys up a touchdown on their first drive of the game.
The Cowboys added to their lead on their next drive when Deonta McMahon found the endzone on a 27-yard run, putting UIW in a 14-0 hole early in back-to-back weeks.
Ward had a game to forget for the Cardinals, throwing his second of three interceptions in the first half. The UIW turnover led to another touchdown run for McMahon, this time from 11 yards out to make it 21-0 McNeese.
From there, UIW would outscore 20-7 the rest of the game but their comeback would fall short. The Cardinals got things started just before halftime when Ward found Taylor Grimes for a 4-yard touchdown pass but the extra point was botched.
In the Cardinals’ first drive of the second half, Ward led the team downfield as Kevin Brown ran down the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was stopped by McNeese as UIW got within 21-12 late in the 3rd quarter.
McNeese made life difficult for Ward all day long as his pass was tipped for his third interception on the day. That set up an Orgeron rushing touchdown from 17-yards out, extending the Cowboys’ lead to 28-12 early in the fourth quarter.
Ward found Robert Ferrel for a 6-yard touchdown score and converted the two-point conversion to make it 28-20. UIW had one last chance to force overtime but would turn the ball over on downs.
Ward finished the game with 455 passing yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions while completing 39-for-59 passing. Brown ran for 71 yards on seven carries and a score on the afternoon.
The UIW Cardinals are now 5-2 (3-1, SLC) on the season and will return to the field next Saturday at 2 PM against Houston Baptist (0-6, 0-3) at Benson Stadium for their annual homecoming game.