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ENMU beats Highlands 44-21

Staff report

LAS VEGAS, N.M. — Senior wide receiver Jacob Johnson caught four passes for three touchdowns and a career 178 yards as Eastern New Mexico University opened its football season with a 44-21 victory over New Mexico Highlands on Saturday night.

The win was the seventh in a row for ENMU, dating to its season-ending six-game streak last season that allowed them to earn a tie of the Lone Star Conference championship with Tarleton State. It also ended a three-game losing streak against the Cowboys.

Third-year ENMU coach Josh Lynn said the Hounds are going into this season with more confidence.

“The first year we were just trying to hold the ship together,” he said. “Last year, I didn’t think we were ready to win yet, but this is the first year I felt like we could go out there and win.”

Johnson did all of his scoring damage in the first half, catching touchdown passes of 22, 33 and 49 yards from junior quarterback Jeremy Buurma to stake the Hounds to a 21-7 halftime lead. Buurma went 9-of-19 through the air for 276 yards, and also found junior D’Maujeric Tucker on a 7y-yard scoring pass late in the third quarter to put the Hounds in front 34-14.

The Hounds converted third-quarter interceptions from senior linebacker Ben Pedro-Langford and Seth Bailey into short touchdown drives, covering 42 and 30 yards. Bailey, from Texico, finished with a game-high 13 tackles, including seven solo stops.

“Ben and Seth both had great nights,” Lynn said. “They (Cowboys) couldn’t run the ball on us.”

ENMU finished with 477 yards of total offense to 434 for Highlands, including a 201-19 margin on the ground. Senior fullback E’lon Spight rushed for 114 yards on 28 carries and added a 5-yard TD run early in the final quarter.

Sophomore Mitchell Cox went 4-of-5 on PATs and finished off the scoring on a 22-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the game.

Cowboys quarterback Lance Orender put up 56 passes, completing 35 for 415 yards and three touchdowns.

ENMU, which opens its home schedule with a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday against Adams State at Greyhound Stadium, now leads the Cowboys all-time 31-13. But the teams didn’t play for a number of years in the early part of the 2000s and the Hounds’ last win in Las Vegas was a 70-28 rout in September of 2002.