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Author Topic: NO. 6 BEARS BRING OWN LIGHTNING IN 45-17 VICTORY  (Read 54 times)

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NO. 6 BEARS BRING OWN LIGHTNING IN 45-17 VICTORY
« on: October 22, 2017, 06:55:25 am »




NATCHITOCHES, La. _ If you can enjoy a five-hour, six-minute football game, the sixth-ranked University of Central Arkansas Bears did just that on Saturday night at Turpin Stadium.

The Bears (6-1, 5-0) survived two long lightning delays _ a combined two hours and 29 minutes _  to roll past the Northwestern State Demons 45-17 in Southland Conference action on NSU's Homecoming night.

After a 1-hour, 40-minute delay that began at the 9:18 mark of the first quarter, the Bears (6-1, 5-0) grabbed a 24-10 halftime lead, despite missing out on several other scoring opportunities. But after another 45-minute delay at the end of halftime, UCA turned up the defensive intensity and never looked back. The Bears held the Demons to just two first downs through most of the final two quarters and turned to its ground game, namely Carlos Blackman, to salt away the Bears sixth consecutive victory.

Blackman, a sophomore from Gosnell, topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the third time in his career, finishing with 130 yards on 23 carries, with three rushing touchdowns. UCA totaled 230 yards on the ground and 536 total yards of offense, averaging 8.4 yards per play on just 64 plays. The Bears had three one-play scoring drives, including touchdown passes of 81 and 57 yards to senior Roman Gordon and a 32-yarder to junior Cedric Battle.

"There were a lot of different adversities going on,' said UCA head coach Steve Campbell, who had to escort his team back to the locker room twice for weather issues. "All the starting and stopping... And it's a tiny little old locker room over there, and we spent a bunch of time in and outside that tiny locker room. But the guys responded.

"We had to manufacture our own enthusiasm, which is what you need to do. Because it's football, and you got to get yourself going. And we did that with the first play of the game. But then we had the big delay, and then we got started again, then another delay. But I'm very, very proud of the way the guys played.

"The defense, once we got going... it's funny how offenses get in a rhythm, but our defense gets in a rhythm, too. Once they get in a rhythm and start getting after the quarterback and that type stuff, we're pretty good. Offensively, we made a bunch of plays again in the passing game. And then we were able to run the ball also, so lot's of positives to build off of.'

UCA senior quarterback Hayden Hildebrand and Gordon hooked up for two long touchdowns in the first half, including an 81-yarder catch and run on the first play of the game. The second, a 57-yarder late in the second quarter, broke a 10-10 tie and helped the Bears to a 24-10 halftime lead. Blackman fought through tackles for a two-yard touchdown run with just 15 seconds left in the half. Senior Matt Cummins also had a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter to round out UCA's first-half scoring. Gordon caught six passes for a career-high 181 yards.
 
"Carlos had a big night,' said Campbell. "I thought he ran extremely hard. We are a little more explosive this year. We've had more one-play type deals than what we've had my first three years combined.'
The Bears rolled up 355 yards of total offense in the first half, with Gordon catching four passes for a career-high 140 yards and the pair of touchdowns. Hildebrand completed just seven passes in the first half but they covered 219 yards. He finished 12 of 20 for 306 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 25 more yards.

"You look at Nicholls, they fell behind these guys and didn't get started fast,' said Campbell. "They wound up having to win it in the last minute. Sam Houston fell down 24-7 before they actually got untracked. We came in and said we're going to get something going right off the bat. And that reverse pass was big to Roman. It was a great throw by Hayden, great protection up front, great catch by Roman. We didn't want to be sitting around and boom, you look up and it's late third (quarter) and you go, well they're still in this thing. We needed to start fast and we felt like something like that would help us do that. And they guys executed it great.

UCA's defense, led by senior linebacker/safety George Odum, turned in eight tackles for loss _ from a combination of eight different players _ and three sacks, while senior cornerback Tre Smith grabbed his league-high fifth interception. The Bears held the Demons to just six first downs in the second half, with four of those coming on NSU's final drive of the game against UCA's reserves.

The Bears host second-place McNeese State, a 55-7 winner over Incarnate Word on Saturday, next weekend on "The Stripes." Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

http://www.ucasports.com/news/2017/10/21/football-no-6-bears-bring-own-lightning-in-45-17-victory.aspx
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