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The University of Central Arkansas has had a knack for winning close games this season.

UCA (6-2, 4-1 Southland Conference) has trailed in each of its six victories, including Saturday's 29-25 triumph over Sam Houston State in Conway in which the Bears were behind 16-0 at halftime.

On Monday at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's weekly meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel, UCA Coach Nathan Brown said he's been impressed with how his team has performed, especially in the second half.

"I truly believe this team has the 'it' factor," Brown said. "I believe our guys pull on the same end of the rope when it matters. We've got a team that's been kicked, bloodied and bruised.

"I love the way they play. They'll go fight for their coaches. They'll go fight for their teammates. They'll go fight for their university."

UCA has won three consecutive games since a loss at Nicholls State on Oct. 5. The Bears have also defeated Western Kentucky of the Football Bowl Subdivision, 35-28, on Aug. 29.

Brown, 33, became the head coach at UCA in 2018 after serving as an assistant coach under Clint Conque and Steve Campbell the previous nine seasons.

As a player at UCA, Brown, a Russellville High School graduate, became the Bears' all-time leading passer with 10,558 yards and 100 touchdowns from 2005-2008.

With Brown, UCA won the Gulf South Conference championship in 2005 and the Southland Conference title in 2008. He's also been a part of two Southland titles as an assistant coach (2012, 2017).

After being with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints as a player in 2009, Brown decided to get into coaching. It's been a decision he hasn't regretted.

"Why is coaching my profession?" Brown said. "This is something I chose to do. I started out at UCA. I parlayed that into a great career. I've had a lot of great players and coaches invest in me."

Recruiting, Brown said, is a big part of his program. He said that the three most important things he tells recruits are he expects them to graduate, win and have a good student experience.

"You're socially going to get better," Brown said. "When you get handed over to our program, whoever raised you is handing them over to me for the next four years.

"We have the people around to push you into winning. Nothing gets you prepared for life more than football."

UCA has four games left in the regular season. The Bears are at Lamar on Saturday, then have two consecutive home games against Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 9 and Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 16 before finishing the regular season Nov. 22 at Incarnate Word.

Brown is looking forward to the Bears' November schedule.

"It's a four-game season," Brown said. "This is a team that expects to play in big games when the leaves are falling and it gets a little cooler outside."

Photo by Courtesy UCA
Nathan Brown

Sports on 10/29/2019

Print Headline: Brown: UCA football team has 'it' going

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