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Mistakes costly to Hounds in loss to Lions

Sports writer

dwagner @cnjonline.com

BLACKWATER DRAW — From the opening kickoff, it was evident Eastern New Mexico University’s football team was going to have its hands full with Texas A&M-Commerce.

link Staff photo: Joshua Lucero

Eastern New Mexico University senior wide receiver Jacob Johnson snags a long pass between a pair of Texas A&M-Commerce defenders during the second quarter of Saturday’s Lone Star Conference game at Greyhound Stadium. Johnson caught eight passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-32 loss to the Lions.

Any help the Lions might have needed from the Greyhounds, though, they received.

ENMU gave away 17 points on a blocked punt, a botched kickoff return and a muffed punt and it was simply too much as the talented Lions rolled to a 48-32 Lone Star Conference win on Saturday in the Hounds’ Homecoming game.

Quarterback Tyrik Rollison threw for three touchdowns before leaving with a concussion in the third quarter while backup Deric Davis added a pair of scoring passes as Commerce (3-1, 2-0 LSC) won for just the third time in 14 games at Greyhound Stadium, and the first time since 1995.

“We got a good lead at halftime and held on for dear life,” Commerce coach Colby Carthel said. “We’re just glad to get out of here with a win.”

Truth be told, the Lions were impressive from the get-go. They churned out a 75-yard touchdown drive in nine plays following the opening kickoff, with Davis stepping in for Rollison to throw a 4-yard TD pass to Ricky Collins.

Later in the quarter, junior Davarus Shores blocked a Mitchell Cox punt and sophomore Richard Cooper scooped it up and cruised 40 yards to make it 14-0 less than 10 minutes into the game.

ENMU fell to 2-2, including 0-2 in the conference.

“I think we’ve played two of the best ones,” ENMU coach Josh Lynn said of the Lions and Midwestern State. “We just have to go back to doing the little things better.”

The Hounds eventually pulled to 17-10 late in the half, but Commerce got a pair of TD passes from Rollison in the final four minutes to extend the margin. Then the Lions’ second-half kickoff bounced free and Shores recovered the loose ball at the ENMU 12, setting up Rollison’s 4-yard TD pass to Vernon Johnson.

Early in the final period, ENMU’s Kevin Reaves mishandled a punt and Lions junior Charles Woods recovered at the ENMU 10, leading to the second field goal of the day for Saul Martinez.

Down 45-10 just past the midway point of the third quarter, the Hounds scrambled back with three touchdowns, taking on a 2-point conversion after the last one with nearly nine minutes left. But a long drive on their next possession ended when Jeremy Buurma’s deep pass into the end zone was intercepted by Pablo Vasquez.

link Staff photo: Joshua Lucero

ENMU senior defensive back Willie Grant takes down Texas A&M Commerce wide receiver Ricky Collins during Saturday’s 48-32 Lone Star Conference loss to Texas A&M-Commerce at Greyhound Stadium.

“I was proud of the way our kids responded in the second half,” Lynn said. “We didn’t play very well in the first half. What they (Lions) did is they took away our long ball. And they made Jeremy Buurma run, which not a lot of teams have done.”

Rollison, who threw for 265 yards, was knocked out of the game as he attempted to slide late on a play early in the third quarter. The left-handed Davis, though, picked up the slack, finishing 9-for-14 for 105 yards.

“Deric’s more than capable,” Carthel said. “He made a few plays for us.”

Senior Jordan Wells led the ENMU ground attack with a season-best 94 yards on 16 carries. Buurma went 9-of-21 through the air, with eight of the completions to senior wide-out Jacob Johnson for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

The Hounds return to action Saturday at Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Javelinas are struggling this season, but ENMU has never won there.

“We need a win,” Lynn said. “I think the important thing is we’ve got to play good. We haven’t played good for four quarters in (either of) these last two ballgames.”