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Hounds charge by WT

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BLACKWATER DRAW — It’s been a rough week for West Texas A&M’s football program, dealing with charges of academic fraud involving one of the team’s key players.

link Staff photo: Joshua Lucero

Members of the ENMU football team hoist the Wagon Wheel as they celebrate Saturday’s 31-21 Lone Star Conference win over rival West Texas A&M at Greyhound Stadium.

So you might have expected the Buffaloes to come out a bit slow in Saturday’s “Wagon Wheel” game at Greyhound Stadium.

Still, nobody could’ve seen what happened — Eastern New Mexico University scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and remained in control the rest of the way for a 31-21 Lone Star Conference victory.

Senior running back E’lon Spight, the LSC’s leading rusher, rambled for 161 yards and a touchdown while junior quarterback Jeremy Buurma ran for two first-quarter scores and threw for another for the Greyhounds (5-4, 3-4 LSC).

Meantime, ENMU’s defense limited the Buffs to six first downs and 118 yards through three quarters in building a 24-point cushion.

“I don’t think we’ve had a game this season where we’ve had all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) clicking,” said Buurma, who went 6-of-8 through the air. “Our defense played their butts off.”

Actually, it looked like WT got a big break when the Buffs recovered their wind-blown opening kickoff inside the ENMU 20 to start the game. On the first play, though, a bad center snap to quarterback Preston Rabb went for a 17-yard loss, WT eventually punted and Buurma led ENMU on an 85-yard drive ending in his 8-yard keeper over right tackle.

Spight, hitting holes quickly and with authority, was already over 100 yards by the end of the first quarter. ENMU’s second drive, covering only 43 yards after a 15-yard WT punt, ended with a 1-yard sneak by Buurma.

On the first play following the kickoff, junior running back Geremy Alridge-Mitchell fumbled after a short pass from Rabb, ENMU’s Seth Bailey recovered and the Hounds scored three plays later on a 9-yard run by Spight, his 15th TD of the season.

“The offensive line played great and E’lon Spight played great,” ENMU coach Josh Lynn said. “(Offensive coordinator Kelly) Lee had a great game plan going in.”

ENMU senior linebacker Julian Yearwood, who was in on five tackles and also had a 29-yard interception return to set up a field goal by Mitchell Cox, said it was different playing with a big lead early.

“It was kind of new to us,” he said. “Everything was going our way.”

WT responded following the second-half kickoff, going 73 yards in seven plays with Alridge-Mitchell, who finished with 114 yards rushing on 15 carries, breaking off a 50-yard TD run.

ENMU came right back after a 41-yard kickoff return just past midfield by D’Maujeric Tucker, going 10 plays and regaining a three-score margin when senior Jacob Johnson made sliding, 11-yard TD catch of a third-and-goal pass from Buurma.

The Buffs (5-4, 4-3 LSC), who had five LSC games “nullified” for seeding purposes in the upcoming league playoff due to the academic issues, scored twice in the final quarter before ENMU ran out the final 4 1/2 minutes, ending the game at the WT 3.

WT coach Mike Nesbitt didn’t blame the team’s troubles during the week for its problems in the game.

“You can’t spot a good team like that 21 points,” he said. “I’m proud of our kids. They had a rough day (Friday), but I thought we did some good stuff.”

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