BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Mason Pierce returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and Cody Orgeron tossed a 3-yard scoring pass to Josh Matthews early in the fourth quarter to help McNeese rally past Southern 31-24 in nonconference play on Saturday.

The first half was all Ladarius Skelton and Southern after Pierce's TD return for the Cowboys (1-2). Skelton had scoring throws of 42 yards to Travis Tucker and 7 yards to Devon Benn to put the Jaguars (1-2) up 14-7 with 5:50 left in the first quarter. After a Jacob Abel 32-yard field goal pulled McNeese within 14-10, Skelton struck again with a 42-yard scoring strike to Ethan Howard for a 21-10 halftime lead.

The tide turned on Southern's first possession of the second half when Jarrius Wallace intercepted Skelton and returned it 21 yards to the Jaguars' 26-yard line. A penalty on the Jaguars moved the ball the the 13 and Stephon Huderson scored on first down to cut the Cowboys' deficit to four just 2:41 into the third quarter. Abel's second field goal - a 25-yarder - had McNeese within a point heading to the final quarter. Orgeron's TD strike made it 28-21 and Abel booted his third field goal to push the lead to 10 with 7:59 remaining.

Orgeron completed just 7 of 16 passes for 75 yards for McNeese. Huderson rushed for 112 yards on 23 carries.

Skelton was 14-of-21 passing for 207 yards. Craig Nelson and Benn combined to rush for 110 yards, splitting 25 carries.


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