CONWAY --University of Central Arkansas sophomore reserve quarterback Luke Hales walked through the tunnel-like hallway toward his locker Saturday night after the Bears' 40-31 victory over McNeese State at Estes Stadium.
"Coach told me I had two choices," Hales said to one of his teammates. "I could throw a go-route or I could throw a go-route."
Hales was in the game for one play late in the third quarter after sophomore starter Breylin Smith had to leave the field with a damaged helmet. UCA (4-2, 2-1 Southland Conference) faced third and goal from the McNeese State 19 before Hales' go-route pass dropped over freshman receiver Tyler Hudson's shoulder and directly into his hands for a touchdown to give UCA a 34-24 lead, which proved all the Bears would need.
"I got the best reaction when I went to the sidelines," Hales said after the game. "I have the best teammates, and it was absolutely awesome."
"We have full confidence in Luke, and that's one of his best throws," UCA Coach Nathan Brown said. "He throws it as well as anyone, and Tyler did a good job of getting under it."
Smith returned to direct UCA to two fourth-quarter field goals by junior Hayden Ray of 25 and 39 yards, the latter to complete the scoring with 6:42 left in the game.
"What a great performance by Hayden Ray," Brown said. "He's pretty much money inside of 40 yards. When we get down there, we want to know we're going to get points, and Hayden assures us of that."
Ray has made all nine of his field-goal attempts this season.
Smith completed 28 of 41 passes for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 78-yard score to Hudson that gave UCA a 27-24 lead midway through the third quarter. He also threw two interceptions.
"We know we can all play so much better," Smith said. "When you turn the ball over twice, you can't do that. We can be so much better, but I'm so proud of the way we rallied around each other tonight."
Hudson caught 4 passes for a career-high 113 yards.
McNeese State (3-4, 1-3) was set up for a score in the game's first minute when junior safety Cory McCoy intercepted a pass from Smith at the UCA 34.
Two plays later, junior Cody Orgeron's 32-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Cyron Sutton gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.
Sutton finished with a school-record 13 catches for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Orgeron completed 26 of 41 passes for career highs of 344 yards and 4 touchdowns.
UCA was within 7-3 after Ray kicked a 34-yard field goal with 9:10 left in the first quarter.
Orgeron's 13-yard touchdown pass to Sutton on the Cowboys' next possession was overturned after review, but a 25-yard field goal by junior Bailey Raborn gave McNeese State a 10-3 lead.
Smith threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Carlos Blackman that tied the score at 10-10 with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
Orgeron's 5-yard touchdown pass to Sutton completed a nine-play, 66-yard drive and gave McNeese State a 17-10 lead with 11:59 left in the second quarter.
UCA scored the next 10 points on a 39-yard field goal by Ray and a 38-yard touchdown pass from Smith to junior receiver Joe Hampton to take a 20-17 lead with 1:56 left before halftime.
The Cowboys answered quickly with a nine-play 65-yard drive, completed with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Orgeron to junior receiver Trevor Begue that gave McNeese State a 24-20 halftime lead.
"If we can make it a four-quarter game, I like our chances," Brown said. "They made some plays, but overall, I think we had a good effort on both sides of the ball."
McNeese State 10 14 0 7 -- 31
Central Arkansas 10 10 14 6 -- 40
MCN--Sutton 31 pass from Orgeron (Raborn kick), 14:26
UCA--FG Ray 34, 9:10
MCN--FG Raborn 25, 6:30
UCA--Blackman 17 pass from Smith (Ray kick), 5:01
MCN--Sutton 5 pass from Orgeron (Raborn kick), 11:49
UCA--FG Ray 39, 5:50
UCA--Hampton 38 pass from Smith (Ray kick), 1:56
MCN--Begue 32 pass from Orgeron (Raborn kick), :25
UCA--Hudson 78 pass from Smith (Ray kick), 7:56
UCA--Hudson 19 pass from Hales (Ray kick), 2:46
MCN--Conerly 4 pass from Orgeron (Raborn kick), 12:10
UCA--FG Ray 25, 7:41
UCA--FG Ray 39, 6:42
First downs 26 19
Rushes-yards 43-95 25-57
Passing 344 388
Comp-Att-Int 26-41-1 29-42-2
Return Yards 29 66
Punts-Avg. 4-42.5 3-37.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalty-Yards 5-53 7-54
Time of Possession 31:15 28:45
RUSHING--McNeese State, Mack 20-70, Orgeron 19-59, Skinner 1-3, (Team) 1-(minus 35). Central Arkansas, Blackman 15-64, Smith 5-(minus 2), (Team) 2-(minus 2), Crossley 3-(minus 3).
PASSING--McNeese State, Orgeron 26-41-1-344. Central Arkansas, Smith 28-41-2-369, Hales 1-1-0-19.
RECEIVING--McNeese State, Sutton 13-156, Begue 4-80, Curtis 3-45, Bonnette 1-42, Hudson 2-11, Briscoe 1-6, Conerly 1-4, Hargrove 1-0. Central Arkansas, Hudson 4-113, Winningham 5-60, Barnes 3-52, Blackman 5-45, Hampton 2-44, Richmond 1-28, Crossley 1-13, Nix 1-13, Blakey 2-6, Short 2-6, Camargo 1-4, Norris 1-4.
Sports on 10/13/2019
Print Headline: UCA backup QB takes right route