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Author Topic: NO. 4 BEARS ROMP PAST NO. 18 COWBOYS 47-17  (Read 115 times)

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Seminole Indian

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« on: October 29, 2017, 07:34:13 am »

CONWAY, Ark. _  The seventh straight win for the University of Central Arkansas Bears came surprisingly easy on Saturday night.

The fourth-ranked Bears turned what was expected to be a tight contest into a blowout Saturday in front of a cold Homecoming crowd, beating No. 18 McNeese State 47-17 in the annual "Red Beans & Rice Bowl" and tightening their grip on the top spot in the Southland Conference standings. UCA is now 7-1 overall and 6-0 in league play with three regular-season games remaining.

McNeese entered the game on its own six-game winning streak and in second place in the conference, but left with a 6-2 overall record and a 4-2 conference mark. UCA has now won the past two meetings with McNeese by a combined score of 82-17. It was also the first time in the series the home team won since 2011.

The Bears had lots of heroes on both side of the ball, including senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand and senior linebacker/safety George Odum, who shared the L.B. Jackman Award as the outstanding players in the Homecoming game. Hildebrand, from Baton Rouge, La., was his normally efficient self, completingn12 of 16 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Odum, from Millington, Tenn., was just as dominant on the defensive side, finishing with a career-high 16 tackles, including 10 solos and a sack.

Senior wide receiver Brandon Cox of Conway caught five passes for 136 yards and a pair of long first-half touchdowns that covered 54 and 55 yards. Junior receiver Lester Wells of Natchez, Miss., got in on the act as well with two catches _ both touchdowns _ for a combined 53 yards. He caught a 5-yarder in the second quarter that helped the Bears overcome an early 10-9 deficit. His 48-yarder in the third quarter stretched UCA's lead to a comfortable 44-10 with 7:09 left in the period.

McNeese State outgained UCA 417 yards to 323, but ran 24 more plays. The Bears were helped by a special teams touchdown when redshirt freshman safety Jackie Harvell returned a blocked punt by Luke Ross 28 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. In the third quarter, senior defensive end Chris Chambers forced a fumble by MSU quarterback James Tabary, picked it up and ran it in from 28 yards out.

Junior placekicker Matt Cummins connected on a pair of field goals, from 34 and 28 yards, for the Bears.

McNeese was ranked No. 1 in the SLC in scoring defense (15.9 points per game) and rushing defense (55.3 yards per game), and No. 2 in passing defense (194.9 yards per game). The Cowboys had allowed just one offensive touchdown in its past four SLC games. But after a nine-point first quarter, the Bears' offense outscored the Cowboys 38-7 the rest of the way to put the game away. UCA scored on four consecutive possessions, and five of six, over the second and third quarters. Meanwhile, UCA's defense continued to shine in the second half. During its seven-game winning streak, UCA has allowed just 44 points after halftime.

After the first quarter when it led 10-9, McNeese punted six times, lost two fumbles and turned the ball over on downs, along with one touchdown on a 24-yard pass from Tabary to Parker Orgeron with 2:00 left in the third quarter. UCA's defense held Tabary to 16 of 35 for 211 yards and one touchdown and three sacks, while David Hamm rushed 16 times for 110 yards. Sophomore safety Juan Jackson also had a career-high 10 tackles and senior tackle Eric Jackson added eight tackles, including one of UCA's seven tackles for loss. Chambers had four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and the 28-yard scoop and score.

Senior Patrick Ponder punted seven times for a 45-yard average, including a second-quarter boot downed at the 2.

The Bears now hit the road for consecutive games, beginning with the Lamar Cardinals (1-7, 0-6) next Saturday in Beaumont, Texas.

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