The McNeese Cowboys were defeated by the Houston Christian Huskies 35-24 inside Cowboy Stadium on Saturday night. The loss moves McNeese to 1-9 overall, with their only win coming via a forfeit by Northwestern State.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
McNeese went with freshman Kamden Sixkiller at quarterback again in this contest. He got off to a hot start, completing a couple of passes and moving the offense well. However, his third pass of the game was intercepted by Jordan Oliver and returned for a Husky touchdown, making it 7-0 HCU.
The Cowboys got a nice kick return to set up the ensuing possession and were able to work their way into field goal range on an eight play, 33-yard drive. It ended with Garrison Smith 27-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Houston Christian’s first offensive possession went perfectly, as the Huskies marched 14 plays and 88 yards, ending with a Colby Suits touchdown run. That gave the Huskies a 14-3 lead.
The Cowboys would have another answer, this one finding the end zone. Sixkiller orchestrated a six play, 75-yard drive and did most of it with his arm. He connected with Cory O’Bryant for a 39-yard touchdown to make it 14-10 HCU.
After the scoring spree up to that point, the defenses would settle in. The next six possessions did not provide points for either team. However, McNeese got back on the board before the end of the half. A three play, 77-yard drive resulted in a Joshon Barbie 24-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys a 17-14 lead that they carried into halftime.
Houston Christian came out of the break with a response. Their first drive of the second half went seven plays and 78 yards, capped off by a 49-yard touchdown from Suits to Karl Reynolds. That gave the Huskies back the lead at 21-17.
With the Huskies holding serve, it was time for the Cowboys to do the same. They put together another impressive drive, going 17 plays and 74 yards, taking up a huge chunk of the third quarter. D’Angelo Durham took a wildcat snap and scampered into the end zone to give McNeese a 24-21 lead.
After the touchdown, McNeese attempted a squib kick. However, it deflected off of a Husky player and bounced back towards McNeese, effectively working as an accidental onside kick. The Cowboys took over, but could not convert offensively on the possession.
The Huskies took advantage of that and put together a scoring march of their own. They went 11 plays and 80 yards, with Suits scoring from 21 yards to retake the lead at 28-24 HCU.
The Cowboy offense was not able to respond, and eventually they started running out of time. HCU put together a sustained drive in which McNeese could not get off of the field on. Eventually, a 4th and 1 conversion by the Huskies basically sealed a victory. However, Jesse Valenzuela went for a 17-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 35-24, which would be the final score.
BIG NUMBER: 21
McNeese’s second-half woes continued, as they allowed 21 points in the final two quarters and only scored seven.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jesse Valenzuela
Valenzuela carried the ball 33 times for 174 yards and the game-sealing touchdown. He also added a reception and acted as a true workhorse in the win for Houston Christian.
UP NEXT: McNeese wraps up the 2023 season next Saturday on the road against Lamar at 3:00.