WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - It took some work, but No. 4-ranked Midwestern State once again found its comfort zone Saturday night against Angelo State at Memorial Stadium.
MSU's caped crusader, otherwise known as Captain Comeback -- Quade Coward slipped out of whatever a modern day phone booth would be to deliver his fourth career game winning drive with under a minute to play to rescue the Mustangs for a 28-21 win to improve to 6-0.
Starting the drive on the MSU 23-yard line with just 46 seconds to go, Coward found a running mate connecting with true freshman Bryce Martinez for pickups of 22 and 37 yards on post routes to set the Mustangs up at Angelo State's 18-yard line.
Two plays later, the Cleburne native hit Jerryl Yarbrough on a slant route with 16 seconds to go for the winning score.
This came just a week after Coward went 11-for-13 for 135 yards and two touchdowns to Breion Evans in the final five minutes with the last one coming with 28.3 seconds to play to overcome a 12-point deficit to beat No. 4-ranked Texas A&M-Commerce, 26-25.
The winning drive also looked stunningly familiar to his game winning drive earlier this season at Texas A&M-Kingsville when he hit Xavier Land on a 49-yard post strike to set up a field goal by Tanner Graeber with 12 seconds to go for a 32-30 victory.
Early on, the Mustangs didn't seem in need of late game heroics as MSU bolted out to a 21-0 lead at the half on the strength of a pair of touchdown connections from Coward to junior wideout DeAndre Black of 18 and 57 yards to go with Vincent Johnson's 14th rushing TD of the campaign.
But Midwestern struggled to five three-and-outs -- four in the second half -- while converting on just one of 15 third downs heading into the final two drives.
Angelo State's defensive prowess allowed the Rams to ride the legs of redshirt-freshman quarterback Carsen Cook, who rushed for 85 yards on 21 carries, to spring openings for two scores by Josh Stevens of 4 and 49 yards in the third quarter. ASU knotted the game at 21-21 on a 10-yard run by Trey Green with 8:45 to play.
That set the stage for Coward's heroics as the Cleburne High product finished with 305 yards of total offense. He connected on 20-of-34 passes for 271 yards and a career-best three touchdowns while running for 34 yards on 10 carries.
"Every win is a big W," said MSU Head Coach Bill Maskill. "They are going with the L and we have the W. At some point in time, we're going to have to play better in the middle of the game."
Midwestern State improved to 6-0 for the fourth time in school history and for the second straight year, while Angelo State dropped to 3-4.
Midwestern State and West Texas A&M renew the Highway 287 Challenge Cup Saturday night at Kimbrough Stadium in Canyon. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.