SAN ANTONIO – The Cardinals are back in business.
A week removed from a blowout loss to Sam Houston State, UIW built an early lead and survived a late rally to top Southland Conference rival Abilene Christian 31-24 at Gayle & Tom Benson Stadium. With the win, the Cardinals improve to 2-2.
After throwing an interception on the very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Jon Copeland locked in, leading the Cardinals on a 19-play, 91-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter. Keyondrick Philio capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run on 4th & 1. He would add another score in the second quarter as the Cardinals built a 20-3 halftime lead.
The Wildcats got back in it with a 14-point outburst in the third quarter, eventually cutting the lead back down to 20-17. But the Cardinals ball control offense and ball-hawk defense delivered in the clutch. Tre Richardson's third-quarter, 56-yard interception return led to a field goal, and Philio scored his third touchdown of the day in the fourth quarter to essentially seal the victory.
Copeland finished the day 18-of-35 for 170 yards and an interception, while Ameer King led the ground game with 66 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. The Cardinal defense tallied four takeaways: three interceptions and one fumble recovery.
"I thought these guys found a way to win together, which is the first time I've seen it in a while," said head coach Eric Morris. "I think all three phases of the ball came up big together at certain points in the game, and I thought we played better together. We went off each other's energy a couple of times, we were able to capitalize a couple times when they made mistakes and make it cost for them."
The Cardinals will next hit the road to face Houston Baptist University Saturday, Oct 5. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.