ABILENE, Texas — A win over McMurry has been a long time coming for the Eastern New Mexico University football team.
In fact, it had never happened until Saturday, when senior linebacker Seth Bailey of Texico set the tone with a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown on the third play of the game, and the Greyhounds never looked back in cruising to a 62-23 Lone Star Conference victory over the War Hawks.
It was the first time the teams had met in 55 years. The Hounds scored more points in this game than in the previous eight, played between 1941 and 1959, when McMurry outscored ENMU 284-60 in posting seven wins and a tie.
Senior running back E’lon Spight set career highs with 189 yards rushing, on 27 carries, and four touchdowns as the Hounds (4-2, 2-2 LSC) moved back to the .500 mark in LSC play.
Spight, posting his fifth 100-yard game of the season, scored on runs of six yards in the first quarter, two yards in the final minute of the half and five and four yards in the third quarter.
“We had a good flow in the second quarter, but we really turned it up in the second half,” ENMU coach Josh Lynn said. “(Quarterback Jeremy Buurma) did a good job of distributing the ball and we had some success running the ball. We made a lot of plays today.”
ENMU piled up 494 total yards, including 426 on the ground. Of that, 278 rushing yards came in the final two quarters as the Hounds scored on their final five full possessions.
Meantime, Buurma threw only eight times, but completed six for 68 yards and a touchdown to Myles Johnson, covering 16 yards in the second quarter. Johnson also scored one of the Hounds’ seven rushing touchdowns.
The Hounds’ defense, ranked No. 2 against the run in NCAA Division II, had another stout day, allowing a net of just 80 yards on 22 attempts.
Senior quarterback Matt McHugh threw for 269 yards and a touchdown for the War Hawks (2-3, 1-3), completing 15-of-35 passes. Senior wide receiver Jeret Smith caught one of the TD tosses and finished with 168 yards on seven catches.
Bailey was the Hounds’ leading tackler with seven (three solos), including one of the team’s two sacks.
ENMU has three regular-season games remaining, including two at home beginning with Saturday’s 6 p.m. clash against Tarleton State at Blackwater Draw.
“We just have to keep getting better as the season moves on,” Lynn said. “We lost a few game there, but that was mostly because of things we did ourselves.
“Lately we’ve been taking care of the ball and focusing on the small things, taking the right angles and form-tackling, and that’s how we’re winning ballgames.”