LAKE CHARLES, La. - As week No. 2 of the season fast approaches, McMurry University's football team will be on the road for the second-consecutive week, travelling to face NCAA Division I (FCS) foe McNeese State University. The War Hawks (0-1) are hoping that some "Cajun cooking" will be just what the doctor ordered against the Cowboys (1-0), as the team searches for their first win of the Division II era.
Kickoff from Cowboy Stadium (17,610) is slated for 7 p.m. The radio broadcast of the game can be heard via the War Hawk Radio Network and locally in Abilene on KZQQ AM 1560
But trying to topple McNeese State will be a tall order for McM, which is coming off of a 51-0 opening week loss to NCAA II power and No. 9-ranked Abilene Christian. Meanwhile, the Cowboys scored a knockout of FBS opponent Middle Tennessee State University, 27-21, last week in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
For its efforts, McNeese was ranked in the top 25 in no less than three different FCS polls this week. The Cowboys enter the game tied for No. 21 in the FCS Coaches Poll, are ranked No. 22 in The Sports Network Poll and tabbed as No. 18 in the College Sports Journal poll.
"McNeese is a great team," said Hal Mumme, McM Head Coach. "We've just got to go play better than we did last week, particularly in the 'red zone'. McNeese has historically been a great program.
"It's a great atmosphere (at Cowboy Stadium). Our players will really enjoy playing there."
This will be the first time that McNeese and McMurry have meet on the gridiron since the 1958 season. McM does own a 2-0 record versus the Cowboys, winning that 1958 meeting by a 21-0 score and also taking the inaugural game of the series in 1957 by a 7-0 margin.
As the two teams renew their acquaintance, the War Hawks are hoping for a repeat of last season. In 2011, McMurry was thrashed at the hands of another Southland Conference foe - Stephen F. Austin - by a score of 82-6 in its opener, only to bounce back and upset Division I opponent UT-San Antonio in week two.
Offensively, the War Hawks saw several scoring chances squandered against ACU. That, combined with six of seven touchdown drives of 50 yards or less by the Wildcats, made for a long evening for McM.
Senior quarterback Jake Mullin threw to no less than 13 different receivers last week in completing 37-of-59 passes for 288 yards. It was Mullin's 21st game with 250-plus yard passing as a War Hawk.
Any success Mullin hopes to have against McNeese will have to go through Cowboy linebacker Joe Nacrisse and free safety Malcom Bronson, who combined for 17 tackles versus MTSU. Cornerback Terrance Cahee and linebacker Hayden Hobbs each registered six tackles.
McMurry's offensive line will need to do a better job giving its quarterback some protection, as well. Mullin was sacked nine times versus ACU (the most sacks of an McM signal-caller in a single game since 2010).
Defensively, McMurry will be trying to hold down a Cowboy running game that stampeded for 298 yards at Middle Tennessee State. Marcus Wiltz led McNeese's corps of backs by carrying 20 times for 105 yards.
McNeese QB Cody Stroud completed 10-of-17 passes for 139 yards and one TD. Tyler Stroud was 2-for-2 passing and also had a TD aerial.
McMurry's defense will need to give a similar effort as it did in the early portion opener. Two newcomers to the War Hawks' defense - sophomore transfer Desmond Guy and freshman Ryan Williams- both defensive backs - led the squad in tackles against ACU in the opener. Guy booked eight stops (seven solo), while Williams had seven tackles (five solo). Defensive back Ryan Williams also notched his first collegiate interception in the opening quarter last week.