By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
BLACKWATER DRAW — As it has done before this season, Eastern New Mexico University’s potent offense was able to match scores with a talented foe early.
Facing their fourth consecutive ranked opponent, the Greyhounds did some good things Saturday against eighth-ranked Midwestern State, especially when they had the ball, but the Mustangs simply had too much firepower and pulled away to a 57-34 victory at Greyhound Stadium.
The Hounds (2-7, 1-5 LSC) can now turn their attention to the remainder of the schedule, more winnable contests next week at winless Texas A&M-Commerce and at home on Nov. 12 against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
MSU (8-0, 7-0), off to the best start in the program’s history, scored touchdowns on eight of 10 full possessions against ENMU, meaning the Mustangs have had TDs on 18 of 22 over the past two games — including last week’s 70-28 drubbing of then-No. 9 Abilene Christian.
Hounds coach Mark Ribaudo said his team continues to fight through injuries and play hard, but simply couldn’t deal with all of MSU’s weapons.
“That’s about what I expected from them,” he said of the Mustangs’ offense. “That’s about normal for them.
“I thought our offense played tremendous, but our special teams didn’t play as well as they have.”
The Hounds scored the second-most points allowed by the Mustangs this season and finished with 441 total yards, with junior quarterback Wes Wood completing his first 12 passes and 29-of-39 overall for 299 yards and four touchdowns. Wood, who set a school record for career completions (648) during the game, ran for ENMU’s other score.
Meantime, the defense “held” the Mustangs to 492 yards — about 85 under their per-game average. More telling stats were:
• 3-for-4 on third-down conversions through three quarters — meaning MSU didn’t get to third down very often, and
• Three minutes, 40 seconds of possession time through the first 23 minutes of the second half. Despite running only eight plays, the Mustangs outscored ENMU 22-14 in that stretch.
ENMU had a 14-play drive of more than eight minutes in the third quarter, but turned the ball over on downs at the MSU 4 after Wood’s 10-yard scoring run was called back for a holding penalty.
It took the Mustangs just two plays to cover the 96 yards — Keidrick Jackson’s 65-yard run and Kelsey’s 31-yard TD pass to Keivin Swanson — for a 50-20 lead.
“It wasn’t our best game, but give credit to Eastern because they played ‘up,’” MSU coach Bill Maskill said. “But, like I told our kids, ‘Not many teams are 8-0, so enjoy it.’”
The Hounds matched Midwestern through 1 1/2 quarters, each team scoring on its first three possessions. The difference to that point was a missed PAT kick by Michael Cottingham after ENMU’s first score, leaving the Mustangs in front 21-20.
“Their offense moved the ball,” Maskill said. “The first three series we tried to play man(-to-man pass coverage), and we couldn’t do it.”
Midwestern’s defense then mustered three consecutive three-and-outs, carrying into the second half, as the Mustangs took control.
Junior quarterback Brandon Kelsey completed his first 11 passes and finished 12-of-13 for 153 yards and two scores. Kelsey also had one of the Mustangs’ six rushing touchdowns.
Senior Chase Kyser caught two of the touchdown passes from Wood, including a 76-yarder midway through the second quarter.