No. 22 UIW hands No. 6 SLU 1st Southland loss, 55-52

Published 1:28 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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In a high-scoring affair that featured 1,485 yards of total offense, UIW quarterback Cameron Ward threw for seven touchdowns to lead the No. 22 Cardinals to a 55-52 victory over No. 6 SLU Saturday afternoon at Benson Stadium.

The loss snapped a six-game win streak for Southeastern (7-2, 5-1 Southland). The host Cardinals (7-2, 5-1 Southland) won its fourth straight game over the Lions.

Saturday’s loss spoiled a record-breaking performance for Cole Kelley and the Lion offense. Kelley set new school records for passing yards, completions and attempts finishing with 647 yards – the second-most in Southland Conference history – on 50-for-68 passing and three touchdowns, leading a SLU offense that finished with a school-record 44 first downs and a season-high 774 yards.

Kelley’s top targets were Gage Larvadain (12 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD), Austin Mitchell (9-169-1 TD) and Nolan Givan (9-87-1 TD). Kelley also rushed for three touchdowns, while Taron Jones found the end zone as well on the ground.

Zy Alexander led Southeastern with seven tackles and his team-high fifth interception. Alexia Ramos and Justin Douglas each collected sacks for the Lions.

Ward finished with 610 yards passing on 34-for-52 passing, hooking up with Taylor Grimes (12 catches, 193 yards), Darion Chafin (7-142) and Robert Ferrel (6-78) for two touchdowns apiece.

On the opening kickoff, Kevin Bickham forced a fumble by UIW’s Ce’Cori Tolds that Donte’ Daniels pounced on at the Cardinal 23-yard line. However, SLU could not take advantage of the short field, as Mateo Rengifo pushed a 30-yard field goal wide right.

After forcing a Cardinal punt, Southeastern moved the ball deep into UIW territory. However, on fourth-and-five, Kelley was sacked by Kelechi Anyalebechi and Brandon Bowen to turn the ball over on downs at the Cardinal 21-yard line.

UIW moved down the field, quickly, as Ward hooked up on back-to-back passes with Taylor Grimes with the second resulting in a 16-yard touchdown and giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 5:10 left in the opening period.

Southeastern answered on its final drive of the first quarter. Kelley bulled in from four yards out to cap an 11-play, 77-yard march that tied the score at 7-7 after the opening quarter.

UIW came right back to retake the lead. Ward evaded a big Southeastern rush and found Darion Chafin from 31 yards out to put the Cards up, 14-7, less than a minute into the second quarter.

A 36-yard Rengifo field goal cut the Cardinal lead to 14-10 with 10:52 left in the half. UIW moved into Southeastern territory, but Alexander stopped the drive with his team-high fifth interception of the season.

UIW stretched the lead when Ward found Robert Ferrel from two yards out with 4:58 left in the half. Southeastern responded with a 10-play, 65-yard scoring march to pull back within four, as Kelley found Givan from seven yards out to cut the Cardinal advantage to 21-17 with 1:31 left in the first half.

UIW walked it right down the field right before the half. Grimes took in a lateral from Ward and found Chafin from six yards out to send the Cardinals into the break with a 28-17 advantage.

Southeastern took the opening drive of the second half 75 yards on six plays. Kelley ran in from three yards out to pull the Lions within, 28-24, less than three minutes into the second half.

UIW answered right back with a 25 yard pass from Ward to Grimes. Mitchell set the Southeastern receiving yardage leader with a 49-yard scoring catch with 7:30 left in the third quarter. Less than a minute later, Ward found a wide-open CJ Hardy from 37 yards to put the Cardinals back up, 42-31, with 6:40 left in the third quarter.

Kelley led another Lion scoring march on their ensuing possession. On fourth-and-five, Kelley connected with Larvadain from 10 yards out to cut the UIW advantage to 42-38 with 2:36 left in the third quarter.

The Lion defense finally forced a stop on UIW’s final drive of the third quarter. Ramos sacked Cameron Ward to force a Cardinal punt.

Southeastern took advantage of the stop to take its first lead of the game. Jones dove in from two yards out to cap an 11-play, 87-yard drive and put SLU up, 45-42, with 11:22 left.

After the two teams traded punts, Brown pulled in a short Ward pass and housed it from 80 yards out to give the Cardinals a 49-45 lead with just over four minutes left.

Southeastern marched right down the field to retake the lead, as Kelley ran around left end for a four-yard touchdown and a 52-49 lead with 1:55 remaining.

That proved to be too much time for UIW, as Ward found Ferrel from 27 yards to put the Cardinals on top, 55-52, with 25 seconds left. Southeastern moved into Cardinal territory on the final drive, but Rengifo’s 54-yard field goal attempt missed wide left to send Southeastern away with its second three-point loss of the season.

Southeastern will return home to host Northwestern State next Saturday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN3 and can be heard in the Hammond area on Kajun 107.1 FM, The Highway 104.7 FM and The Boss 103.7 FM/1400 AM, as well as online at

The SLU-NSU game will also be the Hall of Fame game. Both the 2020 class of Matt Carvell (golf), Maiya Cooper (soccer), Brock Hebert (baseball) and Adonson Shallow (track and field), as well as the 2021 class of Jameson Fisher (baseball), Harry Nunez (football) and Renee Villarreal (tennis) will be inducted in a private ceremony prior to the game and recognized at halftime.

SLU – 7 10 21 14 – 52 (7-2, 5-1 SLC)

UIW – 7 21 14 13 – 55 (7-2, 5-1 SLC)

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter
UIW – Grimes 16 pass from Ward (Mohr kick), 5:10

SLU – Kelley 4 run (Rengifo kick), 0:07

2nd Quarter

UIW – Chafin 31 pass from Ward (Mohr kick), 14:18

SLU – Rengifo 36 FG, 10:52

UIW – Ferrel 2 pass from Ward (Mohr kick), 4:58

SLU – Givan 7 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 1:31
UIW – Chafin 6 pass from Grimes (Mohr kick), 0:20

3rd Quarter
SLU – Kelley 3 run (Rengifo kick), 12:14

UIW – Grimes 25 pass from Ward (Mohr kick), 10:27

SLU – Mitchell 49 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 7:30

UIW – Hardy 37 pass from Ward (Mohr kick), 6:40
SLU – Larvadain 10 pass from Kelley (Rengifo kick), 2:36

4th Quarter

SLU – T Jones 2 run (Rengifo kick), 11:22

UIW – Brown 80 pass from Ward (Mohr kick), 4:05

SLU – Kelley 4 run (Rengifo kick), 1:55

UIW – Ferrel 27 pass from Ward (Mohr kick failed), 0:25

                                                                            SLU        UIW

FIRST DOWNS                                               44           29
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)                                  40-127    15-95

PASSING YDS (NET)                                       647         616

Passes Att-Comp-Int                                          68-50-0   53-35-1

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS                108-774  68-711

Fumble Returns-Yards                                        0-0          0-0

Kickoff Returns-Yards                                       4-39        3-26

Punt Returns-Yards                                             0-0          1-5

Interception Returns-Yards                                 1-20        0-0

Punts (Number-Avg)                                           2-39.5     3-43.3

Fumbles-Lost                                                      0-0          1-1

Penalties-Yards                                                   7-61        5-39

Possession Time.                                                 42:22      17:38

Third-Down Conversions                                    7-of-15   8-of-11

Fourth-Down Conversions                                  2-of-3     0-of-0

Red Zone Scores-Chances                                  7-9          3-3

RUSHING: SLU – T. Jones 10-56, Kelley 18-50, Johnson III 5-21, Dingle 1-9, Carter 1-5, Britt 1-1, Team 1-(-2), Larvadain 3-(-13). UIW – Brown 6-65, Cooper 6-37, Ward 3-(-6). Totals – 15-95.

PASSING: SLU – Kelley 50-68-0-627-3. Totals –  50-68-0-627-3. UIW – Ward 34-52-1-610-7, Grimes 1-1-0-6-1. Totals – 35-53-1-616-8.

RECEIVING: SLU – Mitchell 9-169, Larvadain 12-115, Givan 9-87, Dingle 4-46, T. Jones 4-46, Kovacs 2-44, Spurlock 2-38, Magee 2-33, Carter 2-31, Drobocky 2-16, Britt 1-14, J. Wilson 1-8. Totals – 50-647. UIW – Grimes 12-183, Chafin 7-142, Ferrel 6-78, Hardy 4-76, Begue 3-34, Brown 2-85, McCuller 1-8. Totals – 35-616.

A – 3,220.

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