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(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

UCA hands McNeese second conference loss of season

Last Modified: Monday, October 15, 2012 6:50 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Words may never do what happened at Cowboy Stadium Saturday night justice, but they still must be written.

McNeese State suffered one of the most brutal, improbable losses in recent history — if not the program’s entire history — as visiting Central Arkansas scored 10 points in the final 1:10 for a shocking 27-26 win.

“It’s (as stunned as I’ve been after a game) in a long while, for sure,” said McNeese head coach Matt Viator. “Things happened. We had to make a play. They made the plays. Give them credit.”

The Cowboys (4-2, 1-2 Southland) have lost two conference games by a combined two points. Only one team has won a Southland title with two losses.

“We’re about as urgent as you could be,” Viator said.

UCA kicker Eddie Camara provided the last of several sudden blows on a career-long 47-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining.

“This is a special win,” said UCA coach Clint Conque. “Not many people come to The Hole and come away victorious, and we recognize that and respect that.”

The Bears (5-2, 3-1) celebrated their third consecutive Red Beans and Rice Bowl victory and first win in Cowboy Stadium with a picture at midfield while the Cowboys huddled 15 yards away in stunned silence, with many players fighting back tears and at least one assistant coach doubled over like Bruce Lee had delivered a kick to his gut.

“I can’t even explain it,” said Cowboys cornerback Seth Thomas. “Everybody played hard. It’s just crazy. I couldn’t believe we lost this one.”

McNeese looked well on its way to victory when Marcus Wiltz juked his way past at least five UCA defenders on a 29-yard touchdown run with 3:28 remaining that gave the Cowboys a 26-17 lead.

Instead, it was merely prologue to a nightmare.

Central Arkansas gave itself a last gasp for life when quarterback Wynrick Smothers found a leaping Dezmin Lewis between two Cowboys defenders in the corner of the end zone. The 19-yard connection and ensuing extra point cut McNeese’s lead to two with 1:10 to go.

The throw wasn’t even Smothers’ most important play on the drive — that was his 12-yard scramble on fourth-and-10 from the McNeese 31 that kept the game alive. Smothers finished 26-of-41 with 254 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Even with Smothers’ playmaking, the Bears needed a miracle play from a true freshman walk-on kicker to have a chance.

Jace Denker, who has played in three games this season, delivered a picture-perfect onside kick that took two giant bounces and traveled 28 yards before being gobbled up by Lewis on the sideline.

“We try it once a week in practice. Just once,” Conque said. “It’s never worked.”

The Bears gained 8 yards on three plays to move to the edge of field-goal range before the left-footed Camara booted the longest make of his life.

“After we got (the onside), I knew it was going to come down to me,” Camara said. “I was just trying to get my mind right and hoping for the opportunity, and it came.”

McNeese had the ball last as Darius Carey returned the kickoff to the Cowboys 30 with 23 seconds to go.

Any hopes for a Josh Lewis response were snuffed out with an incompletion and a Cody Stroud sack. A multiple-lateral attempt at a miracle ended up losing massive yardage, setting off a raucous UCA celebration and a zombie-like shuffle for the boys in blue and gold.

“We let one get away, basically,” Stroud said. “We have to stay together. This is two losses and two points. Those will kill you. But we know we can play with anybody. That’s not the question.”

Posted By: Michael On: 10/16/2012

Title: Decline

This team is in decline and it's the coaching. The newspaper tries to gloss it over and continues to run articles about injuries trying, in a fool's desperation, to point the finger anywhere but coaching. I personally don't think that McNeese should've won the Northwestern game. I guess because McNeese is the only game in town and the reporters have access to the coach they won't touch the coaching issue... it's amazing.
I will not attend another game this season. I wish them good luck but this team isn't going anywhere with this coaching. The reporting of McNeese football through this paper has no credibility with me.

Posted By: Jared On: 10/15/2012

Title: Time for a change

This is indicative of poor discipline, which points to poor coaching. We will never be successful with this head coach.

Posted By: Shawn Lee On: 10/15/2012

Title: Interception

It was Guy Morgan with the interception. You guys got them mixed up the whole game.

Posted By: Kevin Brown On: 10/14/2012

Title: off the bandwagon

I left right after the last McNeese score "thinking we had this one" with 3 minutes left in the game. Was I very wrong.
This team doesn't know how to win. I'm done for the year with this squad. pitiful
Get you a brother for a QB and he will show you how to win. Cody Stroud at QB. hahahaha

This team doesn't know how to win. I'm done for the year with this squad. pitiful
Get you a brother for a QB and he will show you how to win. Cody Stroud at QB. hahahaha" />

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