Leading the Lone Star Conference in passing, the Western New Mexico Mustangs put on a formidable performance in their first-ever game versus Texas A&M University-Kingsville, but the Javelinas pulled away in the second half en route to a 28-13 victory and their fifth straight win, at Javelina Staidum, Saturday.
Wth the win, the Javelinas hold on to to third place in the Lone Star Conference with a 5-3 conference record and a 7-3 record overall.
This Saturday, the Javelinas will close out the regular season in Goodwell, Okla., as they take on 2-8, Oklahoma Panhandle State in the regular season finale.
The 28-13 victory marks the fifth straight win for A&M Kingsville, their longest streak since 2010.
The Javelinas are out of contention for an NCAA playoff spot but may still earn a Division II bowl game berth.
Against WNM, Nick Pelrean shot off like a pinball on the opening kickoff, taking it 60 yards to the Western New Mexico 39-yard line. But the Javelina offense squandered that almost immediately after Anthony Autry coughed up a fumble after a short reception.
The Mustangs put their fierce aerial attack into use on the first play, employing some trickery with a reverse pass from wide receiver Rodney Lawson to backup quarterback Mat Hommel.
DeAndre Williams cashed in the drive on an eight-yard rush to give Western the early 7-0 lead.
The Kingsville offense failed to find a spark for the most of the first quarter, going three and out on their next two drives.
On the sidelines. Javelina Coach Daren Wilkinson made his displeasure known to his offense, who only managed two receptions through the first three drives of the game.
“Our guys were spent a little bit emotionally after that game last week against Eastern [New Mexico] where there was a lot on the line,” Coach Wilkinson said after the game.
“And when you have a game like that and have a team come in that on paper with their win-loss record, they don’t look the part. It’s easy to take too many breaths of relief and think that you’re okay with things.”
The Hoggies were dominated in time of possession in the first quarter, only holding onto the ball for 4:51 compared to Western New Mexico’s 10:09.
“You give a lot of credit to Western New Mexico. They came out and they had a very good gameplan. They were going to milk the clock, they did what we want to do every game, which was to keep the other offense off the field.” Wilkinson said.
After a Tyler Vargas field goal, a botched out-of-bounds kickoff put the Javelinas in prime field position at their own 46.
Wilkinson’s pep talk seemed to work as Carr connected with his tight end Stehly Reden for 54 yards for the first Hoggie score of the game.
That momentum was stifled, however, on the next offensive drive when Carr lofted an interception into the hands of Kyle Foote on the WNMU 12-yard line.
The Javelina defense bailed out its offense in the red zone on several occasions. One of the first big stops came in the beginning of the second quarter when the defense halted the Mustang advance at at the TAMUK four-yard line.
Kuziah Ferebee leaped up and blocked the field goal kick holding the score at 10-7 in Western New Mexico’s favor.
Wilkinson’s gameplan in the second quarter was to feed running back Luis Lopez the ball.
On the ensuing drive he got the ball on six of the Hoggies’ eight plays, including a 37-yard catch that saw Lopez tearing through the defense with his signature intensity.
But on the next play, Alfonso Wilson snatched the ball for an interception killing yet another A&M-Kingsville drive.
In the waning seconds of the first half, the Mustangs found themselves on the Javelina 4-yard line on first down.
Quarterback Javia Hall had his halfback Gordy Longville wide open in the end zone, but the pass went in-and-out of his hands.
After another incompletion and with four seconds left in the half WNMU Coach Adam Clark elected to take a shot at the end zone.
Hall threw a tight spiral to the number one receiver in the Lone Star Conference, Xavier Ayers, but Ferebee was right on him knocking the ball away and shutting out the Mustangs’ red zone offense a second time.
The second half began rather auspiciously after the Javelinas stifled the Mustangs at their own 28.
Sean Landez waited to return a 46-yard punt by Tyler Vargas, but the ball ricocheted off his facemask and into the arms of Western New Mexico punt coverage.
The Mustangs entered the red zone, and got down to the Kingsville 7-yard line, but the defense came in the clutch when Quentin Parks sacked Vargas, forcing WNMU to settle for a field goal.
Suddenly the Javelina offense began to click.
Carr went 4-4 passing on the next drive, and every single rushing play (three by Greg Pitre and four by Lopez) was for positive yardage.
Lopez capped the drive off sprinting around the edge for a touchdown, giving A&M-Kingsville their first lead of the game, 14-13.
The Hoggies would hold on to the lead adding seven more on the first drive of the fourth quarter.
The touchdown was set up by a short pass to Lopez, who then proceeded to rip through the Mustangs’ linebacker corps and secondary for 37 yards. Carr then made a senior-to-senior connection to Autry up the middle, who leaped over a linebacker and carried the safety into the end zone for a touchdown.
This was the 25th passing touchdown of the season for Carr, breaking the school record set in 2001 by Abel Gonzalez.
A rolling punt set the Javelinas up at their own 1-yard line on the their next drive. Again, the one-two rushing punch of Pitre and Lopez propelled the Hoggies down field toward the Mustang 20.
Carr then helped break another record, delivering Reden’s seventh touchdown catch of the season, the most in a single-season by a tight end.
“I can remember every 99-yard drive I’ve been a part of and that one will go into the memory banks as well,” Wilkinson said.
“Those are things that don’t happen too often and it takes 11 guys working together for 99 and a half yards.”
Carr put up his third game of 300 or more passing yards, posting 307 yards.
Carr’s top three receivers were the senior Autry who totaled three receptions for 96 yards, Lopez, who put up 91 yards on three catches, and Reden who had two receptions for 74 yards, both for touchdowns.
“We didn’t know each other coming here, both being transfers,” Reden said of his quarterback, “As the year goes on our relationship has gotten a lot better on the field, trusting each other and becoming better friends, and that translates onto the field as well”
Lopez finally broke through with a 100-yard rushing game mark, running for 108 yards and bringing his total on the season to 495.
On the defensive side, Quentin Parks sacked the quarterback twice, and Brandon Jones picked up the one of his own.