By Kevin Wilson
SILVER CITY — It took the Eastern New Mexico University football team a while to get going Saturday afternoon.
Trailing Western New Mexico by a touchdown early in the second quarter, the Greyhounds eventually righted the ship and pulled away to a season-ending 47-20 win over the Mustangs.
ENMU (5-6) snapped a four-game losing streak and posted its 11th consecutive win over Western (5-5), which failed in its bid to finish over .500 for the season but still posted its best record since 1994.
The Hounds’ losing streak matched the program’s longest since an eight-game slide spanning the final seven games of the 1988 season and the season opener the following year.
Sophomore quarterback Michael Benton threw for one touchdown and ran for another for the Hounds. His 5-yard run late in the second quarter put ENMU in front for good 20-13 and tied school single-season records for touchdowns (17) and points (102).
Benton rushed for 154 yards on 24 carries, giving him 1,307 yards for the season. Davalos just missed the century mark, carrying 12 times for a career-best 99 yards.
Sophomore linebacker Tony Johnson was in on a team-high 10 tackles for ENMU.
Benton had runs of 32 and 35 yards as the Hounds went 80 yards in just five plays following the opening kickoff. Fullback Patrick Hemphill blasted over from a yard out, but a 2-point conversion try off a fake kick was thwarted.
The Mustangs responded with two field goals from Kevin Hughes and a 5-yard TD run by Kasey Young for a 13-6 lead at the quarter. But it would be their last points until less than two minutes remained in the game.
Benton connected with senior wide receiver Derrick Hunter on a 53-yard scoring play midway through the second period to tie it, and his touchdown run with 4:21 left sent the Hounds in front going into halftime.
ENMU padded its margin after forcing a Western punt out of the end zone, taking over at the Mustangs’ 25. A personal foul moved the ball to the 12, and sophomore J.J. Jennings went inside for a touchdown on the next play.
Junior free safety Cameron Shutts’ 44-yard fumble return and a 3-yard TD run by Fide Davalos put the game out of reach. Young capped a 57-yard drive for Western on a 16-yard TD run with 1:37 to go, but ENMU sophomore Peter Juve fielded Hughes’ short onside kick on the fly and raced 40 yards into the end zone to cap the scoring.