BLACKWATER DRAW — It was another loss for Eastern New Mexico University’s football team.
Yeah, it’s tough, ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said, but not as tough as saying good-bye to his 12 seniors.
The Greyhounds played hard, but dropped a season-ending 23-10 Lone Star Conference decision to Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday at Greyhound Stadium.
Backup junior running back Randall Toney rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-clinching 5-yard run with 1:35 left after ENMU turned the ball over on downs at its own 11.
Meantime, the Hounds (2-9, 1-7 LSC) finished the season on a six-game losing streak, trying desperately to battle through injuries.
“The resiliency of those kids is unbelievable,” Ribaudo said. “Up until that last touchdown, they were convinced they could win.”
On Saturday, junior quarterback Wes Wood pulled himself out of the game in the third quarter as a season of big hits finally took its toll.
“He just couldn’t go anymore,” Ribaudo said. “You know if Wes takes himself out, (he’s hurting) pretty bad.
“It’s been a tough season, and that’s football. Sometimes you have seasons where nothing clicks, but I’m really proud of this team.”
Kingsville (6-5, 4-4), which had committed 32 turnovers coming into the game, came up with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries against the Hounds in this one. The Javs drove 78 yards after a Darian Dale fumble at the Kingsville 5 for Matt Stoll’s go-ahead, 25-yard field goal in the final minute of the half, then used sophomore Chandler Hill’s blocked punt to set up a short scoring drive for a 16-7 lead in the third quarter.
“We’ll take (wins) anyway we can get them,” said Javs coach Bo Atterberry, whose team claimed its fourth consecutive winning season. “I thought we ran the ball well, and we were able to get first downs when we needed them.”
Junior Jonathan Woodson, the NCAA Division II leader in all-purpose yards coming in, finished with 88 yards rushing and caught two passes for 23 yards. Quarterback Daniel Ramirez went 18-for-30 for 147 yards.
“We turned the ball over too much and had too many penalties,” Atterberry said of a season in which the Javs were ranked as high as No. 6. “There’s really no excuses you can make.”
The Hounds got the ball and a brisk wind at their backs to start the game, but had less than three minutes of possession in the first quarter. Still, they managed to get into scoring range as time expired, and senior Tony Valenzuela gave ENMU a 7-0 lead with a one-yard run on the second play of the second quarter.
Michael Cottingham’s 27-yard field goal late in the third pulled the Hounds to 16-10, but they never seriously threatened after that.
Junior defensive back Nick Jones was in on 25 tackles (12 solos), the most for an ENMU player since at least 1988, which is as far back as records were available. Meantime, Dale caught 10 passes for 116 yards.