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Hickey: McNeese’s playoff failure comes down to inches

Last Modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012 8:06 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

SAN ANTONIO — The record will show that McNeese State’s playoff hopes ended with a 31-24 loss at Texas-San Antonio on Saturday.

The record is wrong.

Just as no one running in Sunday’s San Antonio marathon would blame their final mile for not hitting whatever timed goal they set, the Cowboys can’t be labeled as chokers for failing to come through against the Roadrunners. The reality is they never should have been in a must-win game against a Bowl Subdivision team in the first place.

To a man, the Cowboys know it was earlier 1-point losses to Southeastern Louisiana and Central Arkansas that cost them a goal they were clearly capable of achieving.

“I play those games back in my mind over and over,” said quarterback Cody Stroud. “If we could have just converted a touchdown instead of a field goal in just one of those games, we wouldn’t be in this situation. That’s the way it falls sometimes.”

Those previous games will continue to eat away at McNeese for a long time, but there was nothing shameful about the performance at UTSA.

It certainly looked like it was headed that way when the Roadrunners converted their seventh straight third down for a 31-yard touchdown to take a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. This game was hurtling down the off-ramp to Blowoutsville fast.

The certainty of the loss was only cemented when Stroud was picked off on a deep ball. The Roadrunners marched back down the field again. McNeese finally held them on a third down, but not until they were in range for a field goal to make it 31-10 with 9:55 remaining. It only seemed a matter of how ugly the scoreboard would get.

Instead, the Cowboys used the last 10 minutes to demonstrate why they are a high-character team — not to mention why those two one-point losses are so much more frustrating right now. This is a really good football team that failed to execute a handful of plays that would have made it a great one.

Even against the Roadrunners, there was that one play that could have changed the tide had it gone the other way.

With the Cowboys trailing 14-10 early in the third quarter, Matt Viator decided it was time to get the ball in the hands of his best playmaker.

Darius Carey did the first part of the job, beating his man by a step on a fly pattern down the field. Stroud did his job, delivering a strike from 40 yards away. If UTSA’s defensive back recovers to make a great tackle, McNeese has the ball at the UTSA 15 at worse. If not, Carey has a chance to score.

But through Carey’s fingers the ball went, falling to the turf as he reacted in total disbelief.

“It stuck with me throughout the rest of the game,” Carey said. “A lot of the coaches were telling me ‘Just let it go and move on to the next play.’ But knowing what I can do when the ball was in the air, that’s a play I should have made.”

Even though the Cowboys are haunted by their narrow losses, there is a realization that there’s till one more game on the schedule.

“I think about (those losses) every day,” said senior defensive tackle Pat Williams. “But that’s the past and there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to focus on the future.”

For Williams, that future only includes one more game. But it is an important game nevertheless. McNeese still has a significant upper hand on its new-found rival, Lamar. Saturday will provide another chance to show any high school recruit who picks Lamar over McNeese that they’re out of their dang minds.

That ending isn’t as satisfying as what could have or even should have been, but for McNeese the milk has been on the table for weeks. There just weren’t enough paper towels to clean it all up.

• • •

Alex Hickey covers McNeese sports. Email him at

Posted By: jim On: 11/12/2012

Title: clean house

we need a whole new coaching staff....clean house right now.....but msu admin and stupid good ole boys in community will never do we are losers for life............

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