SAN ANTONIO – Incarnate Word used a 28-point second quarter as they cruised to a 52-34 win over the Southeastern Louisiana Lions in front of 2,345 fans at Benson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win is the third straight for UIW, who are 3-0 in conference play for the first time in program history. The game also set several school records and program firsts as the Cardinals also moved above .500 with the victory.
“Any time you can get a conference win, that’s huge,” UIW Head Coach Eric Morris said. “I was proud of the way the guys fought; not perfect. There’s stuff to correct.”
The Cardinals struggled to deal with the speed of Southeastern Louisiana early as the visitors raced out to a 14-3 lead with two plays of 18 and 38 seconds respectively. UIW took the lead for good when Darrius Montgomery got ahold of a tipped pass and returned it 55 yards for the touchdown.
From there, the Cardinals would outscore SLU 28-7 the rest of the half to take a 10-point lead into the locker room. At one point in the game, the Cardinals would outscore the Lions 35-7.
“The most impressive thing about this win, in that we came out lackadaisical, was the resilience of this team, the way they responded,” Morris said. “The defense came up with some huge stops and scored two touchdowns. Anytime you do that, you have a good chance to win.”
UIW freshman quarterback Jon Copeland had a record-setting night both for the program and his career. Copeland finished the game with 411 passing yards, becoming the first quarterback in program history to pass for over 400 yards in a game. He would break Trent Brittain’s record of 368 yards set in 2015.
Copeland would finish the game by completing 23 of his 37 passes for three touchdowns and 13 rushing yards.
“I feel like I’ve had equal confidence all the way through,” Copeland said. “I got used to the speed of the game and targeting my receivers is something I’ve worked on since day one.”
UIW finished the game with 621 yards of total offense, the most in program history and their 52 points were the most against a team in Southland Conference play.
Southeastern Louisiana had no answer for Cardinals running back Ameer King, who ran for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Copeland found Kam Williams early and often as Williams finished with six catches for 163 yards and a touchdown.
“Having a quarterback like Cope makes it a little easier,” Williams said. “To know he’s always looking and calling our numbers makes it easy to run plays and make those plays happen.”
The Cardinals are off to a solid start in conference play and have their sights set on making it to the conference championship game. And as Morris said, the belief in themselves is what will get them there.
“I’d say believing in one another. Believing in their teammates to do the job – then believing in themselves,” he said. That was one thing that was glaring when we first got here. I didn’t think everybody really believed in what we were doing.
“They were kind of beat down a little bit. We got them in and really started talking to these kids. That’s kind of hard to coach. But I think my staff has done a good job of building this into them every day. And our kids are really fighting for one another.”
Incarnate Word is now 3-2 (3-0, SLC) on the season and will return to the field next Saturday when they travel to face the Lamar Cardinal (1-4, 0-3, SLC) at 3 pm CT.