SAN ANTONIO – When the 2019 season began in August, UIW Football Head Coach Eric Morris knew his team was young and now three months later, he is on a mission to correct it.
Friday night saw the season come to an end with a 52-35 loss to Central Arkansas as Morris realized throughout the season just how young his team truly is.
During the third quarter, UIW got a key third-down stop but an unsportsmanlike conduct call gave the ball right back to UCA. The Bears would score a few plays later and take a three-point lead to a ten-point lead and UIW never got close after that.
“That goes strictly back to me,” Morris said. “I’m the leader of this program and I’m the one who has to get that fixed. That will be my number one goal.”
After a UCA field goal in the first quarter, both teams got hot offensively in the second. Breylin Smith hit Jarrod Barnes for a four-yard score, putting the Bears up 10-0. The Cardinals answered back quickly as quarterback Jon Copeland found Jaelin Campbell for a 21-yard touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 10-7.
The Bears answered back when Smith connected with Joe Hampton on a nine-yard touchdown to put UCA back up 10 points. Just before halftime Smith put another pass on the money, this time to Tyler Hudson, throwing his third touchdown of the half to make it 24-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Ce’Cori Tolds returned the ball 94 yards for a touchdown as UCA took a 24-14 lead into the locker room.
Central Arkansas opened the second half with a touchdown pass from Smith to Hudson for a 31-14 lead, taking just 57 seconds off the clock. The teams went back and forth until Copeland connected with Colby Anthony for a three-yard score, cutting the deficit to 31-21. UIW added another score, capping off an eight-play, 82-yard drive with an eight-yard quarterback keeper by Copeland.
From there, Central Arkansas would outscore UIW 14-7 as the Cardinals closed the season by losing their fifth straight game.
Copeland finished the game by completing 32 of his 55 pass attempts for 338 passing yards and two touchdowns.
“There’s a lot of positives and a lot of negatives we can learn from,” Copeland said. “This offseason we’re going to work on the things we weren’t good at and come back better as a team that can win games together.”
The 2019 season saw the Cardinals finish the season losing five of their last six games. During their five-game losing streak, UIW allowed an average of 39 points per game. UIW finished 2-4 on the road, 3-3 at home, and 4-5 in Southland Conference play.
Morris says he will now what it takes to return the Cardinals to their glory days of 2018. Even if that means making some difficult decisions.
“I’m the leader of this program,” he said. “Too many times this year, we put ourselves into key situations and ended up hurting ourselves because we’re not disciplined. That’s something that’s going to change. If that takes getting rid of the personnel whether its coaching staff or player-wise we’re going to do that.”
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