SAN ANTONIO – Despite holding a 15-point third quarter lead, the No. 20 UIW Cardinals fell 44-41 in overtime to the Northwestern State Demons (1-7, 1-4) at Benson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Cardinals, who lost for the first time since September 21.
“I just told them in the locker room, “no finger pointing at all” because all three sides of the ball made key mistakes in this game,” UIW Head Coach Eric Morris said. “We won in almost every statistical category besides one, and that’s the one that counts: the final score.”
The visitors took the early lead as Jared West capped off a 11-play, 55-yard drive with a three-yard score, putting the Demons up 7-0. UIW answered back as Kevin Brown and quarterback Jon Copeland used their legs to find the end zone and make it 7-7.
Carson Mohr put UIW up 10-7 with a career-best 46-yard field goal in the second quarter. After forcing a turnover, the Cardinals went down the field as Keyondrick Philio found the end zone on a three-yard run. The Demons answered back as West got lose for a two-yard run for another score and Daniel Justino nailed a field goal to make it 17-16 UIW at the break.
UIW came out of the locker room and scored 14 straight points. Jerick Pitre intecepted a pass and returned it 32-yards for a score, putting UIW up 24-16. The home team would add to their lead when Copeland found Mark Sullivan for a 39-yars score, taking the 31-16 lead.
Northwestern State answered back with two scores of their own to make it a one point game with 8:31 left in regulation. Stadford Anderson two-yard rush and added another score later to make it 31-30. Copeland found Brady Rogers for a touchdown, giving the quarterback the program record for touchdown passes in a career.
“That’s something that us as coaches need to do a better job of getting these kids mentally prepared,” Morris said.
The Demons scored eight points in the last 1:25 after scoring a touchdown and converting a two-point conversion to make it 38-38, forcing the overtime session.
In the overtime period, Mohr converted a field goal to put UIW up 41-38. The Cardinals stopped the Demons at the goal line but Quan Shorts’ reception in the end zone gave Northwestern the 44-41 upset win.
The loss is the first for the Cardinals in the Morris era and now the Cardinals will face a tough Nicholls team next weekend in a massive match for a possible playoff spot.
“It’s all about us being able to respond and go back to being us, doing the little things right, then coming back to compete,” Morris said. “It’s going to go one of two ways. You’re either all in with this team or don’t even show up tomorrow.”
The UIW Cardinals are now 5-3 (4-2, Southland) on the season and will return to the field next weekend when they welcome Nicholls (4-4, 3-2) at Benson Stadium at 4 p.m.