SAN ANTONIO – After struggling in their season opener last weekend, the UIW Cardinals responded in a big way in their first win of 2019.
A balanced attack through the air and on the ground led the Cardinals to a 63-44 victory over Texas Southern (1-1) in front of 3,637 fans at Benson Stadium on Saturday night.
“Any win is a good win in Division I football,” UIW Head Coach Eric Morris said. “When you can pull off a victory, then obviously you’re happy about that. We have a bunch of stuff we have to correct — a bunch of sloppy plays.”
The Cardinals scored early and often as quarterback Jon Copeland went 25 of 40 passing for 344 yards and five touchdowns, including a 70-yard completion to Kam Williams, who tied a school record with three touchdown receptions.
Copeland and Williams connected for scores from 12, 20, and 75 yards respectively. When they weren’t passing for scores, they were running. Ameer King, Keyondrick Philio, and Kevin Brown carved up the Texas Southern defense as the trio combined for three touchdowns as UIW totaled 402 yards on the ground, setting a school record for single-game team rushing yards.
“I thought we did a great job in the run game tonight,” Morris said. “We were able to establish a run game and keep it going for the majority of the game — we sputtered a bit there in the third quarter. And then defensively, we kinda started off slow. We didn’t get off the field on third downs, but then had some key turnovers that were good.”
Before halftime, Copeland found Marquez Perez for a 25-yard touchdown as the Cardinals widened their lead going into the locker room at the break. UIW led 42-17 at halftime but miscues defensively would allow Texas Southern to get back into the game.
Texas Southern outscored UIW 20-7 in the third quarter to get within 12 points going into the final 15 minutes. Quarterback DeAndre Johnson found Tren’D Dickinson for a 15-yard touchdown before running LaDarius Owens ran it in from 49 yards out.
UIW responded with that massive 70-yard touchdown pass from Copeland to Williams before Philio added a one-yard score to put the game away for the Cardinals.
“As we grow together we have to learn how to play better off each other,” Morris added. “Being able to put away games as momentum swings is something we have to get better at.”
The UIW Cardinals are now 1-1 on the season and will have a bye week next weekend before opening conference play on the road against Sam Houston State (1-1) at 6 p.m. Central Time in Huntsville.