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

Hounds hope to keep turning corner

ENMU, back at .500 in LSC play, hosts Texas-Permian Basin Saturday

 

October 24, 2018

PORTALES — When the Eastern New Mexico football team brought the Wagon Wheel with them Saturday afternoon to Canyon, the traveling trophy was carried in the cargo department.

After the Greyhounds retained possession of their wooden friend with a 28-0 victory over West Texas A&M, it got a seat with the players on a joyous return trip to Portales.

But there was another passenger as the Greyhounds left Kimbrough Memorial Stadium: Optimism. It’s the optimism that the Greyhounds still have a chance to finish fourth in the Lone Star Conference behind only three nationally-ranked teams after starting at an abysmal 1-5.

“We’ve still got a lot to play for,” second-year ENMU coach Kelley Lee said. “We can still have our seventh-straight winning season. If we can win out, we control our own destiny.”

Lee, offensive coordinator for five years before his elevation to the top position, hasn’t experienced a losing season with the green and silver since he and then-coach Jeff Lynn started their program rebuild. He doesn’t intend to see another one, but they can’t close out the season with three-straight wins if ENMU (3-5, 3-3) can’t beat Texas-Permian Basin Saturday night.

“There’s a lot we could play for,” Lee said, “but we just need to be 1-0 this week.”

A Wheel of a time

The 33rd battle for the Wagon Wheel went for the Greyhounds for the sixth time in seven seasons., and actually gave ENMU the series lead at 17-16.

The 28-0 victory also marked the first time since 1992 the Greyhounds have pitched the shutout in the game, which has been played annually except for 2010, when a Lone Star Conference realignment altered the schedule.

The Greyhound defense was unrelenting, holding the host Buffaloes (5-3, 3-2 LSC) to 144 yards and eight first downs.

“It goes back to preparation,” Lee said, while noting it’s never hard to motivate a player during Wagon Wheel Week. “It’s important to our kids, so we had outstanding preparation and buy-in.”

The offense grinded out another run-heavy game, with 440 yards on 74 carries and just enough passing to keep the defense honest — most notably Roel Sanchez’ 38-yard scoring toss to Johnny Smith.

Paul Terry led the rushing offense with 134 yards on 21 carries, but three other Greyhounds posted the rushing touchdowns — Jeremiah Burke for 13 yards on the Hounds’ opening possession, Kazyan Martin’s 5-yarder in the closing minutes of the first quarter and Wyatt Strand’s 13-yard keeper up the middle to send the WT fans home early.

Facing the Falcons

Texas-Permian Basin, like ENMU, had a rough start by going 0-4. The Falcons, however, haven’t had much of a bounceback in a 2-6 season. They’re 1-4 in LSC play with a 21-20 win over last-place Western New Mexico, and the other four games have seen the Falcons outscored by an average of 22 points.

“We’ve played well at times,” Falcons coach Justin Carrigan said. “We just need to put four quarters together.”

Carrigan, who has coached the Falcons through all three seasons of the program in Odessa, is no stranger to the LSC. He was an all-conference safety at Angelo State, an assistant at Midwestern State and the offensive coordinator at Tarleton State.

So clearly, he’s no stranger to the ENMU triple option offense.

“Way too early in the week to say if there’s anybody we’re going to key on,” Carrigan said Monday. “But all of (their backs) have the ability to eat up some yards and have big plays.”

The Greyhounds only have Terry (705 yards on 148 carries) in the LSC’s top five, but they have six of the league’s top 20 rushers. The Falcon running game is largely Marquis Simmons.

“He’s not a flashy guy,” Lee said of Simmons. “He’s got good patience, bides his time, finds his holes and works hard. He’s very productive. He doesn’t wow you, but at the end of the day you look at the numbers and he had a great game.”

The air game is the bigger concern with UTPB. Taylor Null is second in the LSC with 1,797 yards passing, with 14 touchdowns and eight picks. He has plenty of options, with Kyle McBride, Kristian Brown and Ben Galaviz combining for 97 catches for 1,402 yards and 12 touchdowns. McBride leads the pack with 536 yards, but Galaviz has a team-high five touchdown catches.

“They’ve got a lot of skill guys that can catch the ball,” Lee said. “(Null) is kind of a gunslinger. He’ll sit back in that pocket and take some hits. He’s going to extend plays; he reminds me a lot of Ben Roethlisberger. ... Each (receiver) brings something different to the table.”

Looking ahead

After Saturday, the Greyhounds have two games left. They’ll finish out the LSC season at Angelo State Nov. 3, and come back to Greyhound Stadium for a 1 p.m. Nov. 10 season finale against West Oregon.

 
 

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