Although it might be hard to say Northeastern State is the best 0-6 team around, you can certainly make the case that the RiverHawks are better than their lowly record.
For the second consecutive year, the former Lone Star Conference member has faced the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association’s version of Murderer’s Row in the first half of the season and come up empty. Five of those teams, however, are unbeaten and ranked in the top 20 in NCAA Division II while the sixth, Missouri Southern, is 5-1 and escaped with a 17-14 win at NSU in Game 2.
The RiverHawks host Eastern New Mexico University (2-3) at 1 p.m. (MDT) today at Tahlequah, Okla., in their only non-league game of the season.
After starting 0-6 last season against the same schedule, Northeastern swept its last four against the bottom half of the MIAA.
“I think they’ve been plagued by the injury bug,” ENMU coach Josh Lynn said of the RiverHawks. “They’re a good football team, and we’ve got to go up there and take care of business.”
The Greyhounds are coming off a dramatic 29-28 LSC win last week at Angelo State in which they scored the final 29 points, including a 2-point conversion run by holder Jacob Johnson off a bobbled snap on a would-be PAT kick with just over five minutes left that proved to be the difference.
NSU has been outscored 249-69 so far, including 167-44 in the first half, which at least in part speaks to the quality of the opposition.
“They’re not exceptionally big up front, but they have some experience,” Lynn said. “And they’ve got a couple of linebackers (senior Langston Jones and junior Eddie General) that are good.
“We got a conference win last week; now we don’t want to take a step back.”
This is the last of five non-conference games for the Hounds, including an exhibition against the Air Force junior varsity at Colorado Springs. They finish the season with four LSC contests, beginning next Saturday at home against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
ENMU (2-3) at Northeastern State (0-6)
1 p.m. (MDT) today at Tahlequah, Okla.
• Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
• Coaches: ENMU, Josh Lynn, 2nd year, 5-10; Northeastern State, Kenny Evans, 6th year, 20-41.
• Last meeting: 2010, ENMU traveled to Tahlequah in a game which decided the then-Lone Star Conference North Division title, and the RiverHawks prevailed 43-40 in overtime.
• Last week: ENMU won at Angelo State 29-28. Northeastern State lost at NCAA Division II No. 6 Missouri Western 54-10.
• RiverHawks players to watch: Terrance Dixon, 5-10, 189, Jr., RB; Ethan James, 6-5, 315, Jr., OT; Langston Jones, 6-0, 205, Sr., LB; Eddie General, 5-10, 190, Jr., LB; Kyler Harris, 6-0, 180, So., FS.
• Notes: The Hounds have won four of six meetings all-time against the RiverHawks, but have dropped two of the last three. … Northeastern’s first six opponents are a combined 35-1. … The RiverHawks are on their third starting QB this year in redshirt freshman Cory Meaders, a transfer from Hardin-Simmons. The first two were lost for the season to injury. … Northeastern fell behind 31-7 after one quarter at Missouri Western and finished with four turnovers after not turning the ball over in either of the previous two games. … Dixon, who stepped in at RB when starter Joel Rockmore was lost to a season-ending injury in Game 3, has scored five touchdowns in his last five games. … ENMU’s previous true road win before last week was at Angelo State in 2011. That year was also the last time the Hounds posted wins in consecutive road games (Oklahoma Panhandle State, ASU). … Northeastern State left the LSC after the 2010-11 school year, then spent one year as an independent before joining the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in the fall of 2012. … Evans, a 1982 NSU graduate, posted winning records in 2010 (6-5) and 2011 (7-5), the only plus.-.500 marks at the school since 1999.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner