BLACKWATER DRAW — Coach Mark Ribaudo knows the Eastern New Mexico University offense will make mistakes. After all, the Greyhounds try to play at as fast a pace as possible, in part to keep opponents on their heels.
“We play a high-risk, high-reward offense,” Ribaudo said. “That’s what we’ve chosen to do. Unless it’s clicking, we’re going to put our defense in a bind.”
The risk outweighed the reward Saturday night as the Greyhounds turned the ball over six times and lost to Midwestern State 44-17 in a Lone Star Conference crossover game at Greyhound Stadium.
After ENMU grabbed a quick 7-0 lead, it took the Mustangs less than six minutes to strike for 17 points.
With the score tied, ENMU’s De’Coreyon Thomas lost a fumble on a kickoff return, leading to a field goal, then MSU linebacker Tyler Maner returned an interception 36 yards for a score and a 17-7 lead.
In addition, ENMU (1-2) had three third-down penalties on defense that kept alive two drives later in the half, both of which turned into touchdowns for the Mustangs (2-0).
“It was a 14-point ballgame at halftime (31-17) and we gave them 14 points,” Ribaudo said.
Work to do — Despite the relatively easy win, MSU coach Bill Maskill said the Mustangs could have, and should have, played better.
The biggest bugaboo was 180 yards in penalties.
“We had four personal fouls today,” he said. “There’s no excuse for that. This will be a good tape for us to look at and (try to) correct (mistakes).”
Despite running for 137 yards and throwing for 139, Maskill said senior quarterback Zack Eskridge didn’t play all that well. Of course, what he didn’t do was turn the ball over.
“At times, we hit on all cylinders,” said Maskill, in his ninth year at Midwestern. “But the sloppiness we’ve got to correct.”
ENMU finished with seven penalties for 79 yards, but paid dearly for its mistakes.
Notes — The Mustangs are 11-4 against ENMU all-time and have won the last nine. Ironically, the average score during the streak has been 44-17 (393-151). … Eskridge’s first-quarter TD pass to wide receiver David Little made him the first QB in MSU history to throw for 50 TDs in a career. … Four LSC teams — all in the South Division — continue to be ranked this week — Abilene Christian (fifth), Texas A&M-Kingsville (sixth), West Texas A&M (ninth) and Midwestern (12th). … The Hounds have an open date this week, then host Texas A&M-Commerce (1-1) in their North Division opener on Sept. 25.