exp-player-logo Read More Lost in the fray: Cowboys see some improvements, McMahon receives weekly award from LSWA

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2022

By Jim Gazzolo

Special to the American Press

As the defeats mount, lost is the improved play by the McNeese State offense.

Over the last two games, the Cowboys have picked up their play, raising their scoring average by almost two touchdowns.

In the season’s first six games McNeese struggled to average just 18.3 points a contest. The number is worse if you take away the 32 scored against Division II Mississippi College.

But over the last two the Pokes have upped their game, averaging 31 a contest. Seven of the nine touchdowns have been scored by senior running back Deonta McMahon.

“That helps,” said McNceese head coach Gary Goff “He has been a playmaker for us there. We have gotten some nice matchups for him.”

McMahon was named Louisiana Sports Writers Association Offensive Player of the Week Monday. He ran for 97 yards and scored three touchdowns in McNeese’s loss last Saturday to Southeastern, 28-27.

He’s leads the Southland Conference in total rushing yards (761), rushing yards per game (95.1), rushing yards per carry (6.5), and is second in the conference in rushing touchdowns (9) and total touchdowns scored (11).

McMahon is looking to become the first Cowboy to lead the conference in rushing since the 2008 season (Toddrick Penland) while closing in on the first 1,000-yard rusher for McNeese since the 2013 season (Marcus Wiltz).

But he is not the only improvement. The Cowboys have improved their play in the Red Zone as well. McNeese has scored on each of their last 12 trips into scoring territory.

More impressively, 11 of those scores have been touchdowns.

“That gets back to guys executing the plays better down there,” said Goff. “I think we get excited when we get down by the goal line now and we get a little more focused.”

New starting quarterback Walker Wood credited the offensive line.

“They are doing a great job opening things up for us,” said Wood, who made his first career start last weekend and called it “fun.”

Wood will start again this week when the Pokes host Eastern Illinois in Cowboy Stadium. He replaced an injured Knox Kadum, who sat out with a shoulder injury. Kadum was back at practice Monday but limited.

“Knox is not fully cleared yet, so Walker will come into the week the No. 1 guy but we will get all of them ready to play,” said Goff.

The Cowboys are hoping that their close call last week and improved play over the las few games will lead to a strong finish to the season.

“These guys have been working extremely hard, the staff has been working hard, to show some improvement, to have some success to end the season would be great,” said Goff.

“This team has had a lot of adversity this season and that is part of the game. We will be better for it in he long run, but to have some at the end of the season would mean a lot to everybody.”

For now McNeese hopes the improvement can just lead to a victory.