Scores

Final

McNeese State 30

(7-4, 4-3 Southland)

Cent Arkansas 47

(10-2, 6-1 Southland)

5:05 PM ET, November 22, 2008

Estes Stadium, Conway, AR

1 2 3 4 T
MCNS 7 7 7 930
CARK 10 10 20 747

Top Performers

Passing: D. Fourroux (MCNS) - 314 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: N. Brown (CARK) - 7 CAR, 71 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: B. Henry (MCNS) - 5 REC, 92 YDS, 2 TD

Cent. Arkansas 47, McNeese St. 30

Associated Press

CONWAY, Ark. -- Central Arkansas played like a championship team and acted like one afterward, celebrating wildly while fans spilled onto the field.

The Bears finished the regular season with the best record in the Southland Conference, but this is only their third season in Division I, so the league won't recognize them as champions.

That hardly seemed to matter after they beat McNeese State 47-30 on Saturday night.

"I don't think anything can be diminished by anything that's said or written," Bears coach Clint Conque said. "These guys know in their hearts that they're champions, because they proved it on the field."

Central Arkansas (10-2, 6-1) finished one game ahead of Texas State, which will receive the Southland's automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

The Bears can't be eligible for the postseason until 2010.

Perhaps best known as basketball star Scottie Pippen's school, Central Arkansas is building an impressive football program. The Bears moved up from Division II after the 2005 season and have had a winning record every year since. Quarterback Nathan Brown, who finished his college career Saturday, threw for over 10,000 yards and exactly 100 touchdowns at Central Arkansas.

Brown threw for two touchdowns and ran for two against McNeese State (7-4, 4-3). He went 19-of-29 for 253 yards with an interception.

"He played like an NFL prospect, and he's going to be sorely missed," Conque said. "He left his footprint -- no question -- on this community and this program."

Central Arkansas led 20-14 at halftime and caught a break early in the third quarter. McNeese State's Steven Whitehead caught a pass over the middle, bounced off a couple tacklers and ran toward the end zone. Just before he reached the goal line -- after a 57-yard gain -- he was hit and fumbled, and the Bears recovered in the end zone.

Central Arkansas then took a 27-14 lead on Brown's 35-yard run up the middle.

Brown threw his 100th touchdown pass later in the third quarter, and Brent Grimes added a 10-yard TD run with 1:55 left in the period to make it 40-21.

After the game, the Bears gathered at midfield while "We are the Champions" blared through the stadium. It was hard to argue with that sentiment.

"UCA has less losses than everyone else," McNeese State coach Matt Viator said.

For Central Arkansas, the victory came during a difficult year for the school. Last month, two students were killed in a shooting on campus.

This was a night for celebration, though. Afterward, wide receiver Eric Ware wore a championship T-shirt.

"Everyone knows who the real champion is," Ware said. "It might have an asterisk by it, but hey -- we're the champs."

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MCNS
CARK
1st Downs2221
Total Yards458421
Passing314253
Rushing144168
Penalties10-1096-74
3rd Down Conversions4-114-11
4th Down Conversions0-41-1
Turnovers21
Possession29:5530:05

Passing Leaders

McNeese StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Fourroux22/333149.521
Central ArkansasC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Brown19/292538.721

Rushing Leaders

McNeese StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pendland171106.5032
Fourroux9182.0015
Central ArkansasCARYDSAVGTDLG
Brown77110.1235
Grimes12655.4211

Receiving Leaders

McNeese StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Whitehead59418.8057
Henry59218.4232
Central ArkansasRECYDSAVGTDLG
Ware38327.7143
Landers46315.8031

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMCNSCARK
FG06:36Eddie Carmona 47 Yd 03
TD02:11Steven Whitehead 3 Yd Run (Blake Bercegeay Kick) 73
TD00:20Eric Ware 33 Yd Pass From Nathan Brown (Eddie Carmona Kick) 710
SECOND QUARTERMCNSCARK
TD13:14Bernardo Henry 32 Yd Pass From Derrick Fourroux (Blake Bercegeay Kick) 1410
TD10:30Nathan Brown 9 Yd Run (Eddie Carmona Kick) 1417
FG05:30Eddie Carmona 22 Yd 1420
THIRD QUARTERMCNSCARK
TD09:36Nathan Brown 35 Yd Run (Eddie Carmona Kick) 1427
TD06:35Bernardo Henry 24 Yd Pass From Derrick Fourroux (Blake Bercegeay Kick) 2127
TD04:44Marquez Branson 18 Yd Pass From Nathan Brown (Pat Failed) 2133
TD01:55Brent Grimes 10 Yd Run (Eddie Carmona Kick) 2140
FOURTH QUARTERMCNSCARK
SF12:11Ball Through End Zone 2340
TD09:36Allen Nelson 15 Yd Interception Return (Blake Bercegeay Kick) 3040
TD07:34Brent Grimes 4 Yd Run (Eddie Carmona Kick) 3047