NACOGDOCHES – The UIW Cardinals playoff chances took a big hit as they fell 31-24 to the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (2-8, 2-5) at Homer Bryce Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The loss is the third straight for the Cardinals, whose postseason hopes are in serious doubts after a breakout season a year ago.
The Lumberjacks took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter as quarterback Thom Hutchings took SFA on a six-play, 34-yard drive, capping it off with a two-yard into the end zone. They added to their lead later in the quarter as Cam Arnold got loose for a 20-yard score.
UIW responded with 21 consecutive points to take the lead. The Cardinals’ defense stepped up with 12:46 to go as Andy Jennings recovered a fumble and dived into the end zone, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
Cardinals quarterback Jon Copeland led his team on a nine-play, 61-yard drive and finished it off with a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game up 14-14. Just before halftime, Copeland hit Jaelin Campbell with a seven-yard pass for a score, putting UIW up 21-14 at the break.
Copeland finished the game by completing 35-of-62 for passes 349 yards. Kamden Perry had a career-best 105 yards.
The lone touchdown in the third quarter as Hutchings got past the Cardinals defense for a 21-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, Stephen F. Austin went ahead for good when Arnolds hit Xavier Gipson with a 70-yard bomb for a score, putting the Lumberjacks up 28-21. Both teams would tack on field goals but UIW would get no closer than that.
The UIW Cardinals are now 5-5 (4-4, Southland) on the season and will return to the field next Saturday when they take on New Mexico State at 3 p.m. for their penultimate game of the season.