Tabary shreds HBU secondary

Cowboys win SLC opener

HOUSTON — The McNeese State football team had little trouble putting away Houston Baptist as it took home a 51-34 victory in its Southland Conference opener Saturday night at Husky Stadium.

{{tncms-inline account=”TylerAmPress” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">FINAL | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/McNeese?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#McNeese</a> 51, HBU 34.Cowboys improve to 2-0, 1-0 Southland Conference</p>— Tyler Nunez (@TylerAmPress) <a href="https://twitter.com/TylerAmPress/status/1038617163190419456?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 9, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”1038617163190419456″ type=”twitter”}}

The Cowboys (2-0, 1-0 SLC) scored the game’s first 21 points and never looked back.

“They kept battling for sure,” McNeese head coach Lance Guidry said of the Huskies. “Their quarterback (Bailey Zappe) is a good football player. We knew that going in, and he bought some time. We let some guys loose in the secondary, which we can’t do. But credit to them.”

For the second consecutive week, McNeese entered the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead, but this time the offense and special teams kept the Huskies (1-1, 0-1) out of reach.

Junior wide receiver Parker Orgeron extended that lead to 24 points with a 59-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter, making a comeback look unlikely.

“All my job is is to make the first guy miss,” Orgeron said. “The guys up front had it blocked beautifully. After that, I didn’t have to do much but run to the end zone with my convoy. I’m blessed to be able to do that. That was fun.”

Still, HBU quickly drove down the field and scored with a five-play, 70-yard drive that took 42 seconds before Zappe hit receiver David Racine for a 22-yard touchdown that cut the Cowboys’ lead to 17 points.

But the offense put the game in its own hands, and while it didn’t score on the ensuing drive due to a litany of penalties, the Cowboys held on to the ball for nearly 8 minutes before punter Alex Kjellsten pinned HBU on its own 2-yard line for the second time in the game.

The Huskies got away from that wall with one play as running back Dreshawn Minnieweather tallied a 57-yard rush to get the ball in McNeese territory with 3 minutes remaining.

But one play later the McNeese defense forced its fifth turnover of the game, allowing the Cowboys to run the ball three consecutive times and drain the clock to 1:24 before punting one last time.

The game ended with a sack by Tyrique Gibson that allowed time to expire to seal the McNeese victory.

Guidry said the McNeese defense didn’t play up to par, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing moving forward.

“Sometimes it’s good you don’t play exactly as good as you need to on defense,” Guidry said. “That allows you to gnaw on them and chew on them a little bit. This week will be a good week of practice I’m sure.”

McNeese’s offense looked comfortable for the entirety of the first half, led by Tabary who finished the game completing 25 of 32 passes for 355 yards.

Tabary said this week served as a big momentum boost going into next week’s highly anticipated game against Nicholls State as the Cowboys never took their foot off the gas.

“Last week we came out hot but we didn’t finish,” Tabary said. “That was the main thing that I came into this game wanting to do. I told them we were most likely going to start out like we always do, but we had to finish each quarter. We came out of the half, had some big drives and ran the clock out.”

The Cowboys’ rushing attack tallied 148 yards on 46 carries, once again playing beneath the standards expected.

But with Tabary putting up big numbers, McNeese didn’t have to resort to running the ball often.

“Shout out to those guys up front who do not get enough credit,” Tabary said. “They play absolutely tremendous, the 1s and the 2s. They rotated a lot, we ran the ball well and they caught a lot of passes. They made me look good.”

Minnieweather had as much success as any running back against the Cowboys since Guidry reassumed the defensive coordinator duties, tallying 146 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 17 carries. Zappe finished 18-for-35 for 348 yards and three touchdowns. He threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.””

In this file photo, McNeese State quarterback James Tabary is hit as he throws against Nicholls State last season in Thibodaux. Record-breaking McNeese State quarterback Tabary enters his senior season in search of consistency and a postseason trip. Last season’s numbers were down in comparison to his sophomore season. (Abby Tabor / Special to the American Press)

Abby Tabor / Special to the American Press

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