The Javelinas extended their win streak to four games in a wild victory versus the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds.
The game encapsulated the Hoggies 2016 season: it was bruising, penalty-filled and featured a fourth quarter comeback that nearly gave Kingsville yet another heartbreaking one-score loss.
“It was ugly at times and it was very good at times”, Coach Darren Wilkinson said after the game.
The Greyhounds arrived to town with a conference-leading 1881 rushing yards, and utilized the triple option threat to gash 124 yards and touchdown in the first half.
“I can’t sleep these weeks when you play teams like that”, Wilkinson said of Eastern New Mexico, “It’s hard to practice at the tempo they play at.”
The Javelinas stumbled out of the gate a bit in the first quarter but marched down the field on a 11-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 24-yard Luis Lopez touchdown run.
On the ensuing drive, the special teams blocked an Eastern New Mexico punt, eventually setting up a short one-yard pass from Myles Carr to Torrey Thomas to put the Javelinas up 14-7
The Greyhounds only attempted two passes and one completion in the first half, but would open up the playbook for the second half.
On the first drive of the third quarter the Hoggies stopped the ENMU advance at the TAMUK 44, but an unsportsmanlike penalty called on Forrest Jones gave the Greyhounds 15 yards and the first down.
The Javelinas would limit Eastern New Mexico to a field goal on the drive, but penalties plagued both teams throughout the contest.
Kingsville gave up 11 penalties for 125 yards (the most given up all season) while the Greyhounds were penalized nine times for 99 yards.
“I’m embarrassed because of our penalties” Coach Wilkinson said, “Whether things are instigated or not, we’ve got to learn to be much more disciplined in how we react to things”
Both teams played chippy with each other, which culminated when Tuisamoa Magalei initiated an altercation on the sidelines which caused a shower of yellow flags to rain down.
Magalei was promptly ejected and the Javelinas were granted 15 yards
Then Carr found the Jordan Thomas connection for 37 yards to extend their lead 21-10
This was yet another strong outing for the quarterback, throwing 21-25 for 256 yards and three touchdowns while giving up an jump ball interception in the first quarter.
Carr utilized his weapons effectively.
After a ENMU field goal in the fourth quarter that put the score at 13-21, Carr delivered a floating pass into the hands of his tight end Stehly Reden.
But the Greyhounds fired back on a deep 68 yard pass on broken coverage that brought ENMU within eight once again, 28-20.
The Hoggies were stifled on a three and out, and the Greyhounds got the ball back at their own 46.
Shuffling around in the pocket, ENMU quarterback Wyatt Strand launched a 37-yard pass to Lenny Baker-Bruce for the touchdown.
The Greyhounds went for two and cashed it in on a Strand sidearm throw to Baker-Bruce to knot it up at 28.
The Javelina drive was a roller coaster, first starting off with a 15-yard Anthony Autry reception and then a 25-yard Greg Pitre run that was erased by a holding call.
Autry came in the clutch, first with a 13-yard reception and then a 56-yard catch in tight coverage that brought the Hoggies down to the one yard line.
Autry finished the game with an impressive six receptions for 105 yards
Pitre punched it in for the touchdown, but a botched snap foiled the point after kick.
To add insult to injury, yet another unsportsmanlike penalty was called on the Hoggies, which pushed their kickoff 15 yards back.
To make matters worse, the kick went errant and out of bounds, placing Eastern New Mexico at midfield.
In spite of all that, the TAMUK defense stiffened up and Caleb Valentine strip sacked Strand to all but seal the game up in the Javelinas favor.
Finally Luis Lopez placed the final nail in the coffin for the Greyhounds with a 40-yard bruising rush reminiscent of the Beast Mode runs of Marshawn Lynch.
He punched a one yard run in for the touchdown, and that was all she wrote for Eastern New Mexico.
Lopez finished the game with an impressive 92 yards on 10 rushes and two touchdowns.
Altogether the Kingsville rushing corps ran for 161 yards on 32 attempts and three touchdowns.
The Greyhounds, true to form, ran for 267, 108 of which came from running back Kamal Cass on 26 attempts.
Strand ran for 93 yards on 18 attempts, while throwing 8-12, 171 yards and two touchdowns.
This is the Javelinas fourth straight win, and sixth overall victory in 2016, guaranteeing their first winning record since 2011 (where they went 6-5).
The victory is slightly bittersweet, though, as Midwestern State and Texas A&M Commerce wins have mathematically knocked them out of contention for the Lone Star Conference title.
Both Eastern New Mexico and Texas A&M University Kingsville move to 4-3 in LSC play.
Next week the Javelinas will host the other New Mexico team, newcomers to the LSC, the Western New Mexico Mustangs.
After facing the LSC rushing leaders, the Hoggie defense will have to find a way to stifle the Mustangs’ conference-leading aerial attack which averages 443.3 yards a game.
The Javia Hall-Xavier Ayers quarterback to receiver connection is a potent mix for WNMU, averaging 112 yards and a touchdown a game.
Likewise the Mustangs’ pass defense has shut down opponents, holding them to 123.4 passing yards a game.
Even with that, and +21 scoring differential, Western New Mexico sits at a paltry 3-4 record in conference play.