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Hounds roll in season finale

Freedom New Mexico

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Senior running back Tony Valenzuela scored three touchdowns and senior cornerback Tavius Bigelow had three of Eastern New Mexico University’s four interceptions, including one he returned for a key touchdown late in the first half, as the Greyhounds whipped Tarleton State 35-10 on Saturday in a Lone Star Conference crossover game and the season finale for both teams.

ENMU (5-6) improved to 13-6 all-time against the Texans, but had lost six in a row in the series dating to a win in 2000. It was the Hounds’ seventh consecutive season-ending victory and ended a 22-game losing streak against South Division teams, including three this season, dating to 2006.

Tarleton (3-8) completed its first losing season since 1999.

Sophomore quarterback Wes Wood completed 23-of-41 passes for 220 yards and hit senior wide receiver Jessie Poku on a game-clinching, 4-yard score with less than 11 minutes left.

The Texans marched 66 yards in 13 plays following the opening kickoff, but had to settle for Blake Wiest’s 26-yard field goal. ENMU countered with a 12-play, 67-yard drive ending in Valenzuala’s 11-yard TD run with 5:05 left in the opening period.

Valenzuala went over from a yard out midway through the second stanza, capping a 69-yard drive. Then Bigelow stepped in front of a Nick Stephens pass and returned it 20 yards for a score with 52 seconds left in the half for a 21-3 lead.

After Valenzuela added a 4-yard TD run midway through the third period, the Texans pulled to 28-10 when Jerome Regal scored on a 2-yard run early in the final stanza. ENMU promptly countered with a 67-yard, nine-play drive ending in the Wood-to-Poku connection.

Valenzuela finished with 92 yards on 24 carries and ENMU went over 100 yards on the ground for the sixth consecutive game. Wood completed passes to seven receivers, led by Poku with eight catches for 43 yards.

Meantime, the Hounds held TSU to 64 yards rushing and 233 total yards. Linebacker Nathan Uland and defensive back Curtis Jackson were each in on nine stops, while linebacker Perron Sellers had an 11-yard sack of Stephens and finished with 2 1/2 tackles for losses totaling 17 yards.