Lions look to spoil ENMU's division run
Published: Thursday, October 14th, 2004
With three consecutive come-from-behind wins under its belt, the Eastern New Mexico University football team suddenly finds itself in the middle of the Lone Star Conference South Division race. Coach Bud Elliott, though, said the Greyhounds can’t afford to look ahead as they prepare to take on Texas A&M-Commerce in a 1 p.m. (MDT) kickoff on Saturday at Commerce, Texas. ENMU (4-3, 3-0 South) has third-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville and Midwestern State, both unbeaten in the division, remaining in South play. But first things first — a loss on Saturday to the Lions (2-4, 0-2) would take some of the luster off those other contests. Elliott says the coaching staff has stressed a “take-’em-one-game-at-a-time” approach. “I think we’re getting pretty good at (doing that),” he said. “I don’t look ahead at all myself, and I don’t think our team does either. “But this’ll be a tough road trip. Our players need to be rested.” Although Commerce’s wins have been in LSC crossovers against Northeastern State and Southwestern Oklahoma — still both winless — the Lions’ losses have been against pretty good teams. First-year coach Scotty Conley pointed out that they trailed Kingsville 17-13 through three quarters before losing 31-13, and last week led Midwestern in the fourth quarter before falling 26-23 at Wichita Falls. The Lions also lost to 2003 NCAA Division II playoff qualifier Southern Arkansas 21-19 in their opener. “We had our chances to win it and we didn’t,” Conley said of the MSU clash. “We just haven’t pulled it off yet. We’ve played quite a few ranked teams, and we’re trying to get our program established. “I’ve been impressed with (Eastern’s) ability to win; that’s the most important thing. We realize they’ve got some leadership and some play-making ability.” Senior quarterback Buster Faulkner leads the Lions. A transfer who helped Valdosta State to the NCAA Division II championship game in 2002, Faulkner has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,752 yards, with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also has six receivers with at least 12 catches this season. Elliott said the Lions are somewhat different than last week’s opponent, West Texas A&M, which relies on a West Coast-style short passing game. “(Commerce likes) to throw the ball deep on you,” he said. “They throw a lot of stuff at you. They’re a good football team, with good speed. “I think they’re still getting it together. They’ve got some good athletes and they’ve lost some close ballgames.” Elliott said the Hounds are starting to get some injured players healthy, notably guard Robert Acuna and running backs Fide Davalos and Robert Garza. All have missed recent time with knee or leg injuries. Fast facts ENMU at Texas A&M-Commerce 1 p.m. (MDT) Saturday At Commerce, Texas Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3 Records: ENMU 4-3 (3-0 Lone Star Conference South), TAM-C 2-4 (0-2). Coaches: ENMU, Bud Elliott, 11th year; TAM-C, Scotty Conley, 1st year. Last week: Commerce fell short in bidding for its first South win, falling 26-23 at Midwestern State. ENMU erased a 14-point halftime deficit to edge West Texas A&M 21-20. Last meeting: 2003, the Greyhounds used a strong defensive effort to shut down Commerce 10-3 at Blackwater Draw. TAM-C players to watch: Buster Faulkner, Sr. QB, 5-10, 197; Vic Bennett, Jr. WR, 5-9, 188; Cedric Patt, Jr. WR, 6-2, 193; Ha’a Bento, Jr. PK, 6-0, 205; Marcus Dizer, Jr. DE, 6-4, 230; Chris Miller, Sr. P, 6-2, 202. Of note: ENMU has won its three South games by a total of 11 points, and has gone into halftime trailing by at least a touchdown in each of them. … The Lions have been outscored 141-137, with a difference of more than two points in only one quarter (fourth, 34-38). Three of Commerce’s losses have been to 2003 playoff teams — Southern Arkansas, Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville. … Faulkner, a transfer who led Valdosta State to the NCAA Division II title game in 2002, is one of the LSC’s top-rated QBs. He’s completed 65 percent of his passes for nearly 300 yards a game, and has thrown for nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. … Commerce has turned the ball over just five times this season, compared with 14 for its opponents. … Conley, a 1970 A&M-Commerce graduate, has been a head coach at the junior college level and owns plenty of experience as a Division I assistant, most recently at Navy. He replaced Eddie Brister, who retired after five seasons at the Lions’ helm. … Bento, a native of Honolulu, has been one of the LSC’s top place-kickers this season. He’s 14-of-17 on field goals and is three short of the league record held by three others, including TAM-C’s David Dell (1995). Quotable: “I grew up in northeast Texas (Winnsboro), and I’ve known the (LSC) teams and quite a few of the coaches for a long period of time. I was always impressed with the coaching in this league.” — Commerce coach Scotty Conley.
Click Here To See More Stories Like This