Everything seemed to be falling into place for No. 14 UIW, with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Cardinals needed to win their final two games to ensure a share of the Southland Conference title and an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. UIW also had the advantage of hosting both games at Gayle & Tom Benson Stadium, where the Cardinals had won eight of their 11 games under coach Eric Morris.
UIW seemed to be on its way to a showdown with No. 5 Sam Houston for the SLC title next week after Cameron Ward found Darion Chafin wide open for a 34-yard touchdown with 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Northwestern State had other plans.
The previously winless Demons immediately drove down the field in four plays that covered 58 yards to set up a last-second field 32-yard field goal from Eddie Godina that set off a wild celebration for NSU and left UIW with heartbreak in a 49-47 loss.
The loss significantly diminished the Cardinals chances at earning an at-large berth in the FCS playoffs and left UIW with a must-win situation at home this week against Sam Houston.
Having one more game left in their spring season may be precisely what UIW needs right now. The Cardinals have a chance to erase the bad taste from this game and boost their resume when the selection committee meets this weekend.
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