LAKE CHARLES, La. — After their Fall season was canceled due to coronavirus pandemic and their home opener was postponed due to severe winter weather, the UIW Cardinals football team was itching to get back on the field and that was evident in their season opener on Saturday.
The Cardinals opened their rare spring season with a rout of the No. 19 McNeese State Cowboys 48-20 at Cowboy Stadium on Saturday afternoon behind a solid game from their redshirt freshman quarterback.
Freshman quarterback Cameron Ward threw for four touchdowns, while competing 24 of 35 passes for 306 yards. Ward’s attempting to fill the shoes of Jon Copeland, who announced he was transferring from the university prior to the start of the season.
Copeland holds program records for touchdown passes (44), single-season passing yards (3,341), and single-season passing touchdowns (22) while leading UIW to its first playoff appearance in program history in his freshman season.
The Cardinals opened the scoring when Ward found Caleb Ducross for a 35-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1 with 8:06 left in the first quarter. UIW’s defense held McNeese to a field goal on the next drive before Ce’Cori Tolds returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown late in quarter, putting UIW 14-3.
UIW outscored McNeese 17-0 in the second quarter to take control of the game and lead 31-3 going into the locker room at halftime. Ward found Darion Chafin on a 56-yard touchdown bomb and hit Jaelin Campbell with a 27-yard touchdown pass in the middle period.
McNeese (1-1, 0-1 SLC) scored its first touchdown of the game late in the third quarter when Carlos Williams ran in for a nine-yard score, cutting the Cardinals lead to 31-10. After tacking on another field goal, Ward scrambled before finding Roger McCuller for an 8-yard touchdown to put UIW up 41-10.
Cowboys quarterback Cody Orgeron passed for 202 yards and ran for 72 yards, including running 12-yards for a score late in the fourth quarter.
“Rough one. Rough one today. Took one on the chin from a very quality opponent,” said McNeese Head Coach Frank Wilson. It’s the second time we’ve played this team in the last three years and they’ve had their way with us. We have to do a better job of putting our kids in position to make plays. We have to do a better job of execution.”
With the game in hand, sophomore quarterback Kevin Yeager came in for Ward. The Cardinals closed the scoring as Yeager completed a 3-yard pass to Ameer King to make it 48-20.
The Cardinals had 518 yards of total offense, including 209 on the ground.
The UIW Cardinals are now 1-0 (1-0 SLC) on the season and will return to the field next Saturday when they face the Lamar Cardinal at 3 p.m. on the road.