Quarterback Jacob Bower and tailback Marcus Wiltz played their first games for the McNeese State Cowboys on Saturday and led them to a 30-27 season opening victory over Lamar here.
Bower, a transfer from Tulsa, completed 18 of 31 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a td while Wiltz, a freshman, rushed for 182 yards. Together they led the Cowboy offense.
The game marked a renewal of a rivalry that had its last game 21 years ago, the year that Lamar dropped the sport.
Attendance was 19,023, the largest crowd in Cowboy Stadium since 20,300 piled in for the McNeese-Grambling game in 2002.
The play of Lamar and a few fumbles from McNeese kept the game close. The Cowboys lost three fumbles in the first half that probably would have led to touchdowns.
The Cowboys opened the scoring on a 37 yard field goal by Josh Lewis, who would go on to kick two more field goals and three PATs, but trailed at the end of the first period 7-3 after Lamar had scored on a 26 yard pass from Andre Bevil to Marcus Jackson.
McNeese came back to take a 16-10 halftime lead on a two yard run by Bower and field goals of 37 and 25 yards by Lewis.
At the end of three periods the Cowboys were up 23-13 with a 48 yard pass from Bower to Bernardo Henry producing a third quarter score. McNeese went on to tally on a six yard pass from Bower to DeVionte Edmonson with five minutes left in the game to get the final lead.
During this time Lamar got field goals of 32 and 21 yards from Justin Stout, and touchdown tosses of 12 yards to Josh Powdrill and four yards to J. J. Hayes from Bevil.
Lamar scored the last points with 3:23 left but the Cowboys took the ensuing kickoff and then advanced the ball and ran out the clock.
The Cowboys totaled 207 yards rushing and held Lamar to 20 but the Cardinals passed for 426 yards while the Cowboys netted 288.
Wiltz had come off the bench in place of McNeese starting tailback Champlain Babin who was shaken up on a play in the first period. It was his first appearance in a Cowboy game.
Corday Clark led the Cowboys in receiving with four catches for 38 yards while Damion Dixon had three catches for 83 yards.
Bevil completed a 24 of 41 passes for a school record 426 yards for the Lamar. Jackson caught six passes for 123 yards for Lamar while Powdrill had four for 120 and Hayes nine for 90 yards.
McNeese intercepted two passes, one by Malcolm Bronson and one by Brandon Robinson who returned his for 32 yards.