Bears suffer first loss of the season

Senior running back Carlos Blackman cuts through the defense Sept. 21 against the Univeristy of Hawaii at Aloha Stadium. Blackman ended with his first 100-yard game since Sept. 28, 2018, against Sam Houston State University. (photo courtesy of UCASports)

The UCA Bears (3-1, 1-0 SLC) were unable to climb out of another fourth quarter hole

Sept. 21 at the University of Hawaii (3-1) and suffered their first loss, 35-16.

Over the course of four games, the Bears were outscored 35-3 in first quarters. This makes opening quarters an obvious area of improvement for UCA. 

“I think we need to come out from the start and play every play like it’s now or never,” senior running back Carlos Blackman said. “[We need] to start with the energy we seem to find late in games.” 

In this contest, the Rainbow Warriors jumped ahead early — handing the Bears a 28-point deficit midway through the second quarter. Hawaii’s first score came from redshirt freshman defensive back Kai Kaneshiro on a 55-yard interception return.

After forcing UCA to punt on its next drive, the Rainbow Warriors found the end zone again —  pushing their lead to 14. 

The seven-play, 63-yard drive was capped off with a five-yard reception from junior quarterback Cole McDonald to senior receiver JoJo Ward. 

The start of the second quarter saw more of the same as the Hawaii offense found the end zone twice more. However, the Bears began to settle in and find a groove in this quarter as well.

The running game played a big factor in this for the Bears as Blackman broke free for a 42-yard run down to the Hawaii nine-yard line. 

This led to the Bears’ first score of the night on a four-yard pass from Blackman to junior tight end Sam Carmargo.

However, the extra point was blocked by the Rainbow Warriors leaving the score at 28-6. 

To end the quarter, senior running back D’erek Fernandez recovered a muffed punt by Hawaii deep in their own territory. 

This set up a 35-yard field goal by junior kicker Hayden Ray, bringing the score to 28-9 entering halftime.

After both teams went scoreless in the third, the Bears started the fourth in familiar fashion with another touchdown. 

A 23-yard run from Blackman finished off a 10-play, 82-yard drive for UCA. 

This time, the extra point was good, bringing the score to 28-16 with 12 minutes left to play. 

It appeared that the Bears were setting up for yet another comeback once senior defensive back Juan Jackson forced a fumble that was recovered by fellow senior defensive back Isaiah Macklin at the UCA

35-yard line. 

But a defensive stand by the Rainbow Warriors kept the Bears from capitalizing. One final scoring drive from Hawaii with just 3:27 left to play put the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, the Bears had their most successful game running the ball of the season. Blackman led the team in rushing with 147 yards on 17 attempts. 

Defensively, junior defensive back Leandre Rucks led the team in tackles with seven. 

The Bears are also still hunting for ways to improve and be more effective on the defensive side of the ball. 

“We just have to get into a good position on third down,” Macklin said. “When the opposing team has third and short it’s tough to get them off the field. If we continue being aggressive on early downs it’ll lead to more success for us.”

Moving forward, Macklin sees great potential for the UCA defense. 

“I think we’re in good shape. We haven’t even scratched the surface of how good our defense can be,” Macklin said. 

The Bears will return to Southland Conference play in their next contest as they travel to Thibodaux, Louisiana for a matchup with Nicholls State University. 

The Colonels were voted to finish first in the SLC preseason poll with the Bears following behind in second.

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