The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

With Chile Bowl in hand, Hounds look to Wagon Wheel


October 17, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Greyhound defensive back Dante Urrea, left, pulls down Western New Mexico senior receiver Isaiah Pierre in the second quarter of Saturday's Chile Bowl at Greyhound Stadium. Pierre held on for the reception and the Mustangs scored their lone touchdown later on the drive. The Greyhounds won 55-9.

PORTALES — A team’s defense can often be a shot of adrenaline for its offense. And Saturday, Eastern New Mexico’s defense had just the prescription against Western New Mexico at Greyhound Stadium.

The ENMU defensive unit continually made big plays, big stops, then watched as a pumped-up offense came out and did its thing in the other direction. The result was a 55-9 Eastern blowout that reeled in a big haul for the Greyhounds — their first home victory of the season, their second win of the year and ownership of the first Chile Bowl trophy.

Not a bad night for the Hounds.

“It’s good to get a win against an in-state rival at home,” Eastern head coach Kelley Lee said after his team improved to 2-5 overall, 2-3 in LSC play. “It was never in doubt. It kind of feels good after all the games we’ve been in.”

“We just needed something to spark us a little bit,” ENMU defensive back and Manzano High graduate Charles Countee said. “We had a great week of preparation. ... It just feels amazing, winning feels amazing.”

The game

Eastern’s first offensive drive fizzled at Western’s 42 after quarterback Wyatt Strand was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-four keeper.

But the ensuing Western possession lasted just three plays, the third of which was an interception by Countee, who caught it low and on his knees, but just far enough from the turf to not trap it.

“Great call, great call by the defensive coordinator (Michael Walton),” Countee said. “We had a good pass rush. ... I was just able to make a play.”

Eastern’s offense took over at its own 43 and on first down, Strand — making his 28th consecutive start — connected with Russell Montoya on a 27-yard pass play. With a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on afterward, the Hounds had a first down at Western’s 15. Two plays later, Eastern faced a second-and-goal at the Mustang 2 and from there, Paul Terry went up the middle for a score.

Tyler Vargas’ extra point made it 7-0 with 11 minutes still remaining in the opening quarter.

Western drove for a field goal on its ensuing possession, with Collin Grady doing the honors from 35 yards out.

Eastern’s offense went three-and-out on the next series, and the Greyhounds had to punt from their own 17, but after Western took over, ENMU’s defense wound up stopping the Mustangs on fourth-and-1 at Eastern’s 34. The Hounds’ offense fed off that and drove quickly the other way for a touchdown, beginning with a 42-yard pass from Strand to Johnny Smith. Strand capped off the drive with an 18-yard scoring run, originally heading left before cutting right and into the end zone.

Eastern’s defense thwarted Western on the ensuing series, a promising drive that ended with a missed field goal. And the Hounds then went steadily the other way again, this time driving 80 yards, fueled by a 21-yard Tayshaun Gary dash. The series ended with a 10-yard Cambry Gilbert touchdown run.

For much of the first half, it seemed whenever the defense came up big, the offense would take the cue.

“I thought both sides were really in sync,” Lee said. “A big turnover fed the offense. It was nice to see the two sides play off each other like that.”

“All week we talked about starting fast,” Countee said. “We feel like we’ve been a second-half team all season. ... We started fast and things took hold after that.”

By halftime, Eastern was ahead 28-3 after Kazyan Martin scored the Hounds’ fourth touchdown on a three-yard run.

With the score 28-9 late in the third, Eastern pulled an Eli Manning-to-Odell Beckham-to-Saquon Barkley deal when Strand lateraled left to Montoya — once a quarterback at Valley High School — who threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Smith. Luke Bussen from Clovis supplied the extra point.

Eastern poured on some gravy in the fourth quarter with three more touchdowns — runs of six yards by Terry, 12 yards by Gilbert and 10 yards by Matthew Askew-Betts from Clovis.

Watching the ‘Wheel’

The Greyhounds will try to keep their momentum going this Saturday when they visit West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas, for a 5 p.m. showdown. The matchup is familiarly known as the ‘Wagon Wheel’ game.

“It’s the best part of coaching at Eastern New Mexico,” Lee said. “We love that game and they love that game. It’s exciting. We’ll have a good week of practice; you don’t have to do much motivating.”

Kevin Wilson

Kazyan Martin rushed seven times for 90 yards Saturday, including a 3-yard touchdown.

“It gives me chills,” Countee said. “It’s an exciting game. It’s going to be my third Wagon Wheel game. ... Fun rivalry. It’s just fun, there’s no game like it. ... We don’t like them, they don’t like us. We just want to win.”

The Buffaloes will come stampeding in on a four-game winning streak, the latest of which was a 26-18 road victory at Angelo State last Saturday. The Buffs are 5-2 overall, 3-1 in the LSC.

Their main offensive threat is running back Duke Carter IV, who has rushed for 772 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Six-foot-five redshirt sophomore quarterback Justin Houghtaling from Artesia is also a factor, coming off a 238-yard passing performance at Angelo State.

“You’ve got to stop the run; they want to run the ball,” Lee said. “(But) their quarterback has kind of given them a passing game. You used to be able to load it up.”

“We know it’s going to be a 60-minute game,” Countee said. “Hopefully, we come out prepared well.”


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