ALBUQUERQUE – The Incarnate Word Cardinals began the Eric Morris coaching era with a 62-30 loss to the New Mexico Lobos at Dreamstyle Stadium on Saturday night.
The loss was just the second for Morris to start a season and saw the Cardinals drop to 3-6 in season-opening games.
“On offense, we sputtered a couple times on penalties or self-inflicted wounds,” UIW Head Coach Eric Morris said. “That’s something we’ve got to get over in a hurry or we’re not going to be as good as we know we can be. The penalties killed us and made us go backward.”
Morris tabbed freshman quarterback Jon Copeland as the starter earlier in the day. UIW looked promising to start the game as Copeland went 3-for-4 in the air and completed a 71-yard drive with a run for the touchdown.
We completed a couple of drives and scored,” Morris said. We have to execute at a high level, start these drives off, and get the team in some good plays. I was happy with how Copeland played today, he saw the field really well.
From there it was all New Mexico as the Lobos scored 21 consecutive points to take a 21-7 lead. New Mexico quarterback Tevaka Tuioti had four touchdowns and 327 passing yards as he easily led the Lobos down the field, time and time again.
UIW refused to quit as running back Ra’Quanne Dickens scored on a 95-yard run to make it 35-16. The run by Dickens would go down as the longest in program history according to the university.
Dickens would finish with 110 yards rushing on seven carries. Copeland finished his first start by completing 17 of 36 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown.
Despite the huge loss, there were positive signs within the game. Morris knows if his team gets mentally tough, they get be just as good as some of the team’s on their schedule.
“We lost some coverage on the back end and that’s something you can’t do at this level,” he said. “We need to communicate better on the back end.”
Incarnate Word is now 0-1 on the season and will return to the field next Saturday when they travel to Denton to face the North Texas Mean Green (1-0) at 6 p.m. CT at Apogee Stadium.