ABILENE, Texas – Greg Livingston’s record-setting receiving day was not enough to help McMurry University snap its losing skein, dropping a 47-43 decision to NCAA Division I FCS foe University of the Incarnate Word at Wilford Moore Stadium. The setback was the fifth straight for the War Hawks (1-8), while the Cardinals (5-4) picked up their first road win since 2011.
As for Livingston, the speedy junior from Spring, Texas added another McM school record to his burgeoning collection. Livingston, who became the school’s all-time receptions leader just two weeks ago, caught 11 passes for 232 yards to establish a record for single game receiving yardage (surpassing the previous mark of 223 yard by Steven Cortinaz versus Mississippi College on Oct. 20, 2001).
Livingston had two touchdown catches in the game, upping his season total to 12 TDs receiving this season. His first scoring aerial form McM quarterback Gabe Rodriguez was an 88 yard catch-and-run that knotted the game at 6-6 with 4:06 left in the first period.
After the Cardinals had gone ahead 13-6 late in the opening period, the Rodriguez-to-Livingston connection paid dividends once again at the 3:05 mark of the second period.
A UIW fumble by running back Broderick Reeves – forced by McMurry’s Joshua Fisher – was recovered by the War Hawk linebacker Chase Jackson at the Cardinals’ 19 yardline.
Paxton Grayer (15 carries/65 yards) ran 18 yards to the one. After a no-gainer by Grayer, Rodriguez floated a pass to Livingston on the corner of the end zone for the TD. The extra point tied it at 13-13.
But McMurry was not finished before the intermission, thanks to another UIW fumble. This time it was quarterback Trent Brittain coughing up the ball on a bad exchange and recovered by McM’s Calvin Middlebrooks at the UIW 42 with 2:20 left in the half.
Junior Chris Simpson took a lateral and scampered 37 yards to the Cardinals five. A three-yard run by Simpson and a one-yard pass to Grayer made it third-and-goal from the UIW one yard line. From there, McM head coach Mason Miller called Simpson’s number once again for the score that made it 20-13 at the intermission.
McMurry could never quite shake the Cardinals and the visitors made their move in the second half. UIW made it 20-20 at the 10:58 mark of the third quarter to start a back-and-forth scoring spree. McMurry responded with a six-play, 60-yard drive, capped by a nine-yard Simpson touchdown jaunt with 5:08 left (27-20).
Reeves drew UIW to within one less than a minute later with a 55-yard touchdown run. The failed PAT left McMurry clinging to a slim 27-26 advantage.
Then it was the War Hawks who returned the favor with a quick-strike score.
Beginning from its own 35, McMurry gained eight yards out to the 43 on its first two plays. Then, it was Clinton McCoy’s turn to be the recipient of a big pass from Rodriguez, this one a 57-yard TD. McMurry added a 22-yard field goal in the early going of the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game, 37-26.
However, the fourth quarter belonged to UIW’s Reeves. Reeves tallied consecutive TDs on runs of 27 and 14 yards that put the Cardinals back on top, 40-37, with 4:42 left to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, McMurry would deftly march down the field itself. Beginning at their own 28, four-consecutive Rodriguez completions moved the ball into Cardinal country. On a second-and-10 from the UIW 23, Rodriguez found Ryan Nelson for his first touchdown catch of the season that helped McM re-take the upper hand, 43-40, with just 2:42 left to play.
The Cardinals took the kickoff and returned it all the way out to their own 45. Five plays later, Reeves – who rushed for 244 yards – scored his sixth rushing TD of the day as he bulled his way in from 17 yards with 36 seconds remaining.
The War Hawks last-gasp drive began from their own 20. With 80 yards to go, a 38-yard completion to Livingston got McMurry up to the UIW 41 with 15 tics left on the clock. Two consecutive incomplete passes brought up McM’s last chance desperation pass, which was intercepted at the one yard line to seal the 47-43 defeat.
Rodriguez finished his day by completing 27-of-50 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns passing. He was intercepted twice and sacked once.
Simpsons carried the ball 18 times for 136 yards and the two rushing TD’s.
Jonathan Blair led the McMurry defense with 10 tackles (six solo). Decorian Johnson and Cory Pippen had nine and eight stops, respectively. Chase Jackson and Niko Alana each contributed seven tackles. Markell Rice had a sack of UIW’s Brittain.