HUNTSVILLE, TX — The magical season for the Incarnate Word Cardinals came to an end on Saturday afternoon as they fell to No. 1 Sam Houston State 49-42 in heartbreaking fashion at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium in the NCAA FCS Second Round.

The Cardinals closed out the 2021 season with a 10-3 record, earning the most wins in program history. UIW earned its second conference championship, including the first outright conference title.

UIW Head Coach Eric Morris was named the Southland Conference Coach of the Year and quarterback Cameron Ward earned Walter Payton Award honors.


“There is so much to be proud of,” Morris said after the game. “What we have accomplished in the last four years, being a nobody and moving up to where we’re somebody and a force to be reckoned with. It’s just such a heartbreak for our kids. That’s the National Champions on their home turf. I am super proud of our coaches and players and excited to see what the future holds for us.”

UIW opened the scoring on their first drive of the game as Ward connected with Darion Chafin for a 23-yard touchdown pass, putting the Cardinals up 7-0. Sam Houston State would score the next ten points to take a 10-7 lead into the second quarter.

The Cardinals responded when Marcus Cooper broke loss for a 40-yard touchdown run, giving UIW the 14-10 lead early on in the second quarter. From there, the Bearkats went off, scoring three straight touchdowns to take a 31-14 lead. However, UIW answered back just before halftime when Ward found Chafin again to make it 31-21 going into the locker room.

UIW opened the third quarter in perfect fashion, getting a defensive stop, and offensively, they marched down the field to score another touchdown as Ward hit Robert Ferrel for a 16-yard strike to cut the deficit to 31-28.

The Cardinals took their first lead of the game when Ward found Chafin for a 48-yard touchdown just seconds into the fourth quarter, making it a 35-31 ball game. On Sam Houston’s next drive, they scored a touchdown of their own along with a two-point conversion to take the lead back, 42-35.

UIW took just two plays to knot the score as Ward found Trevor Begue for a 62-yard touchdown reception to make it 42-42 with seven minutes left. Sam Houston State went downfield and scored a touchdown from three yards out with a minute remaining.

The Cardinals had one last chance late when Ward scrambled for the end zone but was inches short, ending the season for UIW.

UIW will now depart the Southland Conference for the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) beginning in 2022.

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.

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