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UIW headed to playoffs for first time

November 19, 2018

Anne Richards was on pins and needles all Sunday morning.

The University of the Incarnate Word, where she has managed the bookstore and been an officer of the athletic booster club for more than 10 years, was on the verge of a breakthrough. The football team, a laughingstock only a year ago, might be granted a spot in the national playoffs for the first time in the school’s history. The news would be out by noon.

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Just a few months ago, such recognition would have seemed unlikely in the extreme. The football program, barely 10 years old, had just attained full standing as a Division I NCAA team. Last year, the Cardinals won just one game and lost 10, and they began the current season with a new coach.

And yet...

Against all expectations, Incarnate Word won a share of the Southland Conference football championship for the first time. And on Sunday morning, the NCAA selection committee granted UIW a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, another first for the small Catholic university.

Richards cried at the news.

“Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh! We’re going!” Richards said. “I really didn’t think this was going to happen. We’re just not that known.”

ON EXPRESS-NEWS.COM: After beating Iowa State, Texas gets shot at redemption against Kansas

The FCS is the NCAA’s second tier of major college football, a notch below programs such as the University of Texas at San Antonio or UT-Austin. The FCS decides its national champion through a 24-team playoff that culminates in a title game Jan. 5 in Frisco. Ten teams automatically qualify by winning their conferences outright. Incarnate Word earned one of 14 at-large selections.

The Cardinals will face Montana State in the first round of the playoffs at 3 p.m. Saturday in Bozeman, Mont.

Read more about the football team’s upbringing at ExpressNews.com

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