By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
BLACKWATER DRAW — There wasn’t much to say after Saturday’s Lone Star Conference South Division mismatch at Greyhound Stadium.
Midwestern State, needing to win out to have a shot at an NCAA Division II playoff berth, took care of business quickly and efficiently.
Meantime, Eastern New Mexico University continued to take its lumps in a highly competitive division.
Senior quarterback Daniel Polk threw for three touchdowns in the first 16 minutes and running backs Joe Chatman and Adrion Butler each rushed for a pair of TDs as the No. 21 Mustangs blew out the Greyhounds 63-7.
With four division teams in the D-II Top 25, ENMU (4-6, 0-6 South) has found itself outmanned in most of its South games. In the two games in which they were close, the Hounds couldn’t make the right plays at the right time to win.
“I just don’t have this team where it needs to be right now to compete with these upper-echelon teams,” said ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo, whose squad finishes the season next Saturday at Oklahoma Panhandle State. “We’ve had rough games with all four of those teams. I’ve got to find a way to get our team competitive in those situations.”
Midwestern hosts No. 19 Abilene Christian (8-2, 3-2) next weekend in what amounts to an elimination game for the playoffs, while once-beaten and 16th-ranked Tarleton State hosts No. 4 West Texas A&M, the unbeaten division leader.
It’s conceivable the WT-Tarleton loser will earn a playoff berth, which puts more of a premium on the other game.
Mustangs coach Bill Maskill said he was hoping his team would handle its business against the Hounds.
“I was pleased with the mental approach we had going into the game,” he said. “Our players executed what we were trying to get done.
“I told the team this week that this might be our biggest game of the year, because we had to have it.”
There was little doubt the Mustangs would accomplish their task.
ENMU stopped the Mustangs on downs inside the Hounds’ 30 following the opening kickoff, but Midwestern then scored on four consecutive possessions — including a 97-yard, 12-play drive after a coffin-corner punt by Brandon Haug.
Down 35-0 early in the third quarter, the Hounds mounted their only scoring drive, moving 61 yards in four plays after a 47-yard completion from Anthony Ramos to Tim Hammett put the ball in scoring range. Hammett scored from 8 yards out on an option pitch around left end, getting a good block from fellow running back Jason Walker to help get him in.
But Midwestern came right back with a 54-yard TD march that ended with Chatman’s second TD of the game.
Maskill had backup QB Justin Lightfoot take a knee on the final two plays from inside the ENMU 10, keeping the Mustangs from possibly hitting 70.
“We didn’t talk about Abilene (Christian during the week),” Maskill said. “We had to clear this hurdle first. Now we’re going to enjoy this win, and then get ready for next week.”
Midwestern rolled up a 597-170 advantage in total offense, holding the Hounds to just 97 yards on the ground.
“They’re the No. 1 offense in the nation and the No. 1 defense in the conference,” Ribaudo said. “We knew they were going to be tough.”
Midwestern State 63, ENMU 7
MSU 14 14 14 21 — 63
ENMU 0 0 7 0 — 7
MSU — DelJuan Lee 12-yard pass from Daniel Polk (Jose Martinez kick), 3:49
MSU — Lee 17-yard pass from Polk (Martinez kick), 1:15
MSU — Andy Tanner 38-ayrd pass from Polk (Martinez kick), 14:08
MSU — Joe Chatman 2-yard run (Martinez kick), 7:40
MSU — Marcut Mathis 10-yard run (Martinez kick), 9:59
ENM — Tim Hammett 8-yard run (Jordan Walker kick), 8:34
MSU — Chatman 1-yard run (Martinez kick), 5:00
MSU — Adrion Butler 1-yard run (Martinez kick), 12:54
MSU — B.J. Mathis 1-yard run (Cason Colliflower kick), 9:09
MSU — Butler 20-yard run (Colliflower kick), 3:52
A — 1,000.
First downs 28 8
Rushes-yards 54-332 35-97
Passing yards 265 70
Total yards 597 167
Comp-att-int 17-26-0 5-8-2
Punting 2-40.5 8-42.1
Fumbles-lost 2-0 2-1
Penalties-yards 7-60 1-15
Rushing — Midwestern State, M. Mathis 13-100, B.J. Mathis 7-91, Butler 13-53, Polk 7-52, Chatman 6-29, Wazir Maolud 5-11, Justin Lightfoot 1-minus 2, team 2-minus 2. Eastern New Mexico, Michael Benton 14-47, J.J. Jennings 6-15, Hammett 4-12, Jordan Myers 4-10, Cory Baker 2-8, Jason Walker 1-3, Anthony Ramos 4-2.
Passing — Midwestern State, Polk 15-24-0-248, Lightfoot 2-2-0-17. Eastern New Mexico, Ramos 4-6-1-69, Baker 1-2-1-1.
Receiving — Midwestern State, Lee 7-91, Robert Wells 3-59, Tanner 3-55, Chad Olson 1-25, Brandon Frazier 1-18, Eric Russell 1-12, Butler 1-5. Eastern New Mexico, Jessie Poku 2-11, Hammett 1-47, Justin Campos 1-11, Benton 1-1.