Cowboys, with playoff hopes on life support, face Lumberjacks tonight

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

Two teams with seemingly more talent than wins meet tonight at Cowboy Stadium. For the loser, the season is over. For the

winner, there is still something left to play for even if it requires the help of others to achieve the goal of postseason

play.

McNeese (4-3, 1-3 Southland) finds

itself in a must-win situation due to a pair of one-point conference

losses. The Cowboys

are one narrow play away in each game — and there are several to

choose from — from entering tonight with a comfortable 6-1

record.

“McNeese

is a very talented football team,” said SFA coach J.C. Harper. “You

don’t beat Middle Tennessee on the road if they’re

not. They have had some injuries to maybe change some things. I

like to think we’re good at throwing the football. We’ve got

to be better at not turning the ball over.”

SFA (3-4, 2-1) has a number of close

losses to top-notch competition to thank for its predicament. The

Lumberjacks have lost

to a pair of top-five teams in the Football Championship

Subdivision — No. 4 Montana State (43-35) and No. 5 Sam Houston State

(51-43) and Football Bowl Subdivision Texas State (41-37).

“They were right there in all those games,” said McNeese coach Matt Viator. “They’ve got a good football team.”

As is usually the case under Harper, the Lumberjacks bring a powerful offense to the table.

SFA leads the nation in passing with an average of 425.1 yards per game. Quarterback Brady Attaway’s favorite target is Walter

Payton Award candidate Cordell Roberson, who has only been held under 100 receiving yards twice this season.

“You have to tackle. That’s the main thing,” Viator said. “Any time you throw it 60 times, you’re going to complete passes.

Even if you only hit half of them you complete 30 balls. The key is you have to tackle them and not allow yards after the

catch, which we didn’t do (last week against Sam Houston).”

The Cowboys are trying to rebound from back-to-back losses and keep their playoff hopes on life support.

“Games like this kind of take care of

themselves as far as (not) having to reiterate how big it is. They

understand that,”

Viator said. “What (we’ve been) trying to do is have good

practices and give them the confidence they need to compete at the

highest level we can get. It’s one of those things that’s

unexplainable at times.”

Viator said he expects to have running back Javaris Murray in the lineup. He missed last week’s game at Sam Houston State.

McNeese has lost three straight to the Lumberjacks. The Cowboys haven’t lost four consecutive games to any conference opponent

since Northwestern State took five in a row from 1985-89.