By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
BLACKWATER DRAW — The Eastern New Mexico University football team is making strides in the Lone Star Conference.
The Greyhounds haven’t improved enough, however, to play with the top teams if they’re making mistakes.
Senior quarterback Zack Eskridge rushed for 137 yards and threw for 149 as Midwestern State, ranked 13th in NCAA Division II, pulled away in the second half for a 44-17 win on Saturday night in an LSC crossover game at Greyhound Stadium.
Both teams were plagued by costly errors. The difference was that the Mustangs (2-0) had more than enough firepower to overcome their issues.
“They (Greyhounds) fought like hell in the first half,” MSU coach Bill Maskill said. “(But) we had so many mistakes; that stuff just drives you nuts.
“To be able to overcome that, it was sloppy and ugly, but we’re 2-0.”
ENMU (1-2) took advantage of an 8-yard punt to score on its first possession, going 46 yards in three plays capped by Wes Wood’s 10-yard pass to Chase Kyser.
Eskridge broke off a 58-yard run on the first play following the kickoff, and MSU tied it four plays later on Neal Carr’s 2-yard run with 9:18 left in the quarter. A fumble by ENMU on the ensuing kickoff led to a field goal, and defensive back Tyler Maner returned an interception — one of five thrown by ENMU’s Wes Wood — 36 yards to make it 17-7.
After an ENMU three-and-out, the Mustangs went 63 yards in nine plays, capped by Eskridge’s 18-yard TD toss to junior wide receiver David Little with one second left in the quarter.
“We played poorly; we played undisciplined,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said. “There’s no way you can beat an inferior opponent like that, much less a team like that.
“We got a little too wrapped up in the emotion of the situation.”
Midwestern overcame 180 yards in penalties. Meantime, the Hounds buried themselves with six turnovers, and were held scoreless in the second half.
“We’re making progress, but we’re not making it fast enough,” Ribaudo said. “Unfortunately, we started (LSC play) with two of the top offenses in the conference.”
ENMU closed to 24-17 on a 2-yard pass from Wood to Arvin Jackson with 5:06 left in the half. The Mustangs, though, regained a two-TD margin when senior tailback Marcus Mathis went over from a yard out in the final minute of the half.