JONESBORO -- If one play illustrated Central Arkansas' misfortunes Saturday in the rain and wind of Centennial Bank Stadium, Coach Nathan Brown said it occurred late in the third quarter.
UCA (2-3) was already down 37-13, on its way to a 50-27 defeat, but there was a chance for the Bears to get back in the game after driving 64 yards in 13 plays to the Arkansas State 1.
It was fourth down, and Brown called a play which positioned quarterback Breylin Smith behind center.
"We had a good play called, and it was a good call to go for it," Brown said. "We do a lot of under-center stuff."
Brown said he didn't know if it was the wet artificial turf, but Smith stumbled as he took the snap and fell to the ground at the ASU 3.
"It was just a trip, an unfortunate slip," Brown said. "That was basically the definition of what the day was like right there."
There were several other unfortunate moments that turned the tide against the Bears.
UCA was driving earlier in the third quarter trailing 30-13 when Smith (24-49 passing, 302 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) connected with Tyler Hudson on a 29-yard play to the ASU 13, only to see Hudson fumble the ball away.
There were also several plays in the first half that stopped UCA from staying in the game.
UCA trailed 9-6 midway in the second quarter and was approaching midfield when Smith (7 of 26 in the first half) had a short pass intercepted by Samy Johnson, who turned it into a 60-yard touchdown return.
Brown could also point to UCA's inability to score a touchdown after an ASU kicking breakdown resulted in what looked to be a scoop-and-score after ASU's Blake Grupe's 22-yard field-goal attempt bounced off one of his linemen.
"The kid slipped and kinda kicked it into his own men," Brown said. "We were fortunate enough Dre Matthews scooped it up. Wish he would have just gone ahead and scored."
UCA settled for field goals of 36 and 42 yards by Hayden Ray to take a 6-2 lead into the second quarter.
"Our red-zone offense was abysmal tonight," Brown said. "We've got to do better. We've got to score touchdowns instead of field goals."
Brown said it took a while for the Bears to get comfortable offensively in the driving rain.
"We got outcoached," Brown said. "They handled the weather better than we did. I thought at times in the first half we were playing fast, with a purpose."
But the Bears' passing game sputtered in the opening two quarters, and not all of it was on Smith.
"Offensively, we shot ourselves in the foot," Brown said. "We couldn't get our head above water."
Hudson was responsible for six of Smith's seven first-half completions, but there were several passes that could have been caught by UCA's other top wideout, Lujuan Winningham (4-93 receiving, 3 touchdowns).
Winningham was held to one catch for 23 yards in the first half.
"They just weren't letting Lujuan or Tyler get over the top of them, especially early," Brown said. "Lujuan was able to get behind them a couple of times, he just wasn't able to execute the catch.
"Tyler plays a little more of our field outside receiver and they were playing a little softer coverage. ... He kinda figured out how to catch the ball in the rain a little better than Lujuan did. Lujuan figured it out as the game went on. Both had big nights when it was all said and done."
It was too late by that time, even though UCA closed to within 43-27 early in the fourth quarter and was driving at the ASU 27.
But Smith was sacked for an 11-yard loss when he couldn't find an open receiver, and threw his second interception on the next play, and it was over.
The conditions and drops all contributed to UCA's uneven offensive performance.
"All of that," Brown said. "Tough conditions, and they handled it better than we did when it was all said and done."