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

Greyhounds look to regroup


October 30, 2019

Kevin Wilson

Johnny Smith extends the ball over the goal line for a touchdown late in the second quarter of Saturday's 35-14 loss to West Texas A&M. The Greyhounds head to Odessa this week to face Texas-Permian Basin.

PORTALES — On the bright side, Eastern New Mexico’s football team had three games left after Saturday’s disappointing 35-14 home loss in the Wagon Wheel game against West Texas A&M.

Three chances to play sound football, three chances to put the WT defeat further and further into the past.

It starts this Saturday, with a 5 p.m. road game in Odessa, Texas at UT Permian Basin. The Greyhounds carry a 5-3 overall record, 3-3 in the Lone Star Conference, into the game against the Falcons, who are 2-6 overall, 0-5 LSC.

Despite what those records might indicate, despite what advantage the Hounds might appear to have, ENMU head coach Kelley Lee knows that his team has to practice hard this week, get off the bus well, and play well to earn the victory. Records alone won’t hand it to Eastern against a battle-tested Permian Basin squad.

“They’re a very veteran football team,” Lee noted of the Falcons. “This is their fourth year in the program. They’ve got a lot of four-year starters. They’ve probably played more (college) football than anyone. I know they haven’t beaten us and I know they’re going to want to do that, so we’re probably going to get their best effort.”

That stated, UTPB has had the struggles one would expect of a two-win team that’s yet to taste victory in conference play, having been outscored 263-181, an average of 33-23 per game.

The Falcons do have a fairly balanced attack, with 1,623 yards passing, 1,284 rushing. And their time of possession (28:47 per game) is close to their opponents’ (31:13).

The Falcons have done pretty well in the red zone, turning 22 of 27 visits (81 percent) into points. 16 of those 22 successful red-zone trips were touchdowns.

UTPB has had five quarterbacks attempt passes this season, with Kameron Mathis attempting the most (90), completing the most (49), connecting on the most touchdowns (4), while playing in the most games (7) of the quintet.

Mathis has also thrown four interceptions, but that’s just half the amount thrown by teammate Caleb Leake.

The Falcons don’t have one rusher that has out-dazzled the others, but they have had four run for over 200 yards this season — Gabe Nelson (294), Davion Sutton (232), Marquis Simmons (213) and Leake (207).

Kyle McBride tops UTPB in receptions (40) and receiving yards (501). Kobe Robinson is the Falcons’ leader in touchdown catches (4).

Eastern’s offense comes at teams with a rush-first-ask-questions-later approach, totaling 3,086 yards on the ground as opposed to just 537 on 85 attempts passing.

Paul Terry has been the Greyhounds’ main rushing threat, bolting for 1,290 yards in eight games, almost 600 more yards than Eastern’s second-leading rusher, quarterback Wyatt Strand’s 722.

Darryl Wiggins’ 235 yards is fifth on ENMU’s rushing list, but only less than 60 shy of Nelson’s team-leading total for UTPB.

It may seem like ENMU’s rushing attack is going to bowl over the Falcons. But, coming off a week of miscues that put the Greyhounds into a 21-0 hole by the first quarter’s end and led to their lopsided defeat, they need to tighten things up quite a bit this week.

“We’ve got to quit making mistakes,” Lee said. “We’ve got to quit turning over the ball and making errors in special teams. Some of it was forced, but the ones we’ve got to fix are those unforced ones, those unforced errors. We’ve got to fix that.”


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