CANYON, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University’s football team once again has possession of the “Wagon Wheel.”
Senior fullback Christian Long rushed for 121 yards and scored the Greyhounds’ final three touchdowns, including a 2-yard run with 51 seconds left, and freshman D’Majeric Tucker — who earlier returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score — followed with a 2-point conversion run to give the Greyhounds a stunning 39-38 Lone Star Conference win over 15th-ranked West Texas A&M on Saturday night.
Long scored after a roughing the passer penalty gave the Hounds first-and-goal at the WT 2. Tucker then took a pitch from quarterback Jeremy Buurma and got into the left corner of the end zone for the go-ahead points.
WT reached the ENMU 40 following the kickoff, but a holding penalty set the Buffs back and a last-second, 67-yard field goal by senior Sergio Castillo attempt fell short as time expired.
ENMU (5-3, 3-1 LSC) extended its winning streak to four games and, with two games left, ensured an end to a run of eight losing seasons. The Hounds also snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Buffaloes (7-2, 3-2), dating to a 21-20 win at Blackwater Draw in 2004.
Castillo, who entered the game 53-for-65 on field goals in his career, also missed a 32-yarder wide right prior to the Hounds’ game-winning drive.
It was the second startling comeback on the road this season for the Hounds, who have won five of six away from home, including an exhibition victory at the Air Force junior varsity. On Oct. 12, they rallied from a 28-0, second-quarter deficit to nip Angelo State 29-28.
The teams were relatively even in total offense (WT led 404-380), but did it in different ways. The Hounds gained 232 yards on 59 rushing attempts while WT senior quarterback Dustin Vaughan went 38-of-57 through the air for 472 yards and five touchdowns, four coming in the first half which ended with the Buffs leading 31-17.
The Hounds held the Buffs to just 12 net yards rushing on 14 attempts, including four sacks of Vaughan for losses totaling 30 yards. The Buffs were also guilty of 17 penalties for 154 yards.
ENMU rallied from a 14-0 deficit after the first quarter, but found itself down 38-17 before Long capped a 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge on fourth-and-goal midway through the third quarter.
After forcing a punt, the Hounds benefited from two major penalties on WT before Long capped their possession with an 8-yard scoring run in the first minute of the final period to pull ENMU to 38-31.
An 18-yard field goal by ENMU freshman Mitchell Cox pulled the Hounds to 17-10 with just over four minutes left in the half. WT countered with touchdown pass from Vaughan to Watson, but Tucker bobbled the kickoff briefly at the 1 before returning it for a touchdown.
WT scored on a 1-yard pass from Vaughan to Torrence Allen with 1:11 left to go up 31-17 at halftime.