LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In front of the most electric crowd at Cowboy Stadium in quite some time, the Pokes were able to start off the Sterlin Gilbert era on a high note as they outlasted a late Southern rally to take down the Jags 34-28.
“I haven’t had a game that packed since I’ve been here," McNeese defensive end Chris Livings said. "The only game that ever got close to it was probably my freshman year in the playoffs. The atmosphere was nothing like it. To see the actual hill filled up and people all around the sides I really enjoyed it. That’s why players play football.”
Saturday provided us our first true look at the Pokes new offensive system under Gilbert, and although things started a bit rocky the unit showed up as the game progressed. They were balanced with about 150 yards each way and took advantage of short fields thanks to Southern’s special teams mishaps.
“Whatever it takes to win is what we’re willing to do," head coach Sterlin Gilbert expressed. "I’m proud and excited about our guys that they were able to create turnovers. And then us be able to go and produce points on offense off those turnovers.”
The Cowboy offense also made big plays in the passing game, more specifically Trevor Begue’s two touchdown receptions to end the first half and begin the second.
“Those two touchdowns me and Cody talked about before the game. That just doesn’t happen by accident," wide receiver Trevor Begue admitted. "We practice a lot throwing the balls and catching the balls. I know that he trusts me and I trust him. It’s really just about competing and going for the ball. It fell my way and I’m just really excited to get this win.”
“Those horizontal throws are RPO,” said quarterback Cody Orgeron. "So, I could have handed it off or thrown it. Obviously I threw it because of the look I got. With Trevor on those deep balls that was just lining up out there. The first corner route Trevor was kind of schemed up a little bit. Next fade ball down the boundary, the safety roll to the middle of the field and it was a one on one match up. Trevor did a great job reeling in the catch.”
Also getting out to a bit of a shaky start was the Pokes defense as they trailed early on after giving up two Southern passing TD’s of 30 yards or more. Then they got back to playing the defense fans are used to seeing by shutting out the Jags for more than two quarters.
“I feel like it just took a couple of plays for our guys to really get comfortable and trust their technique and not overreact, just playing good sound defense," said Livings.
One thing the Pokes will definitely need to clean up is penalties as they had 16 for 177 yards and unfortunately things don’t get any easier from here. McNeese will hit the road to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State on Saturday.