West Texas A&M Buffs roaming to unfamiliar territory
By Greg Jaklewicz
Monday, September 7, 2009
West Texas A&M, which has been a top-25 team since midway through the 2005 season, suddenly is in danger of exiting the national poll.
The Buffs, who started the season ranked No. 11 in the American Football Coaches Association poll, lost 24-17 to Central Oklahoma on Saturday, dropping WT to 0-2.
The rest of the Lone Star Conference South Division fared well, with only Angelo State losing. Abilene Christian, ranked No. 3 nationally, had no problems with Fort Lewis, taking a 58-10 win at Shotwell Stadium to go to 2-0.
The West Texas A&M football team is in uncharted territory. The Buffs (0-2 overall, 0-1 Lone Star Conference) have lost two consecutive games for the first time under head coach Don Carthel and have lost three in a row dating to the 2008 postseason.
And the schedule isn't cutting the Buffs any slack, with a trip to face undefeated top-10 squad Central Washington looming.
"We will see how we bounce back from two losses," WT running back Kelvin Thompson said Saturday night after the Buffs fell, 24-17, to Central Oklahoma, their first loss to the Bronchos since 2004. "We're going to find out what type of people we have on the team."
Football: Four teams stay unbeaten
LSC Weekly Release
Four South Division teams - Abilene Christian, Midwestern State, Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville - remained perfect in 2009 with victories on Saturday. Central Oklahoma, MSU, and Eastern New Mexico each won their Lone Star Conference crossover games to take the early lead in conference race.
This week's schedule features six crossover contests including ACU versus Texas A&M-Commerce at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Another game to watch is UCO at TAMUK, as the Bronchos continue their season opening three-game road trip, while the Javelinas enjoy the home field advantage for the third straight week. Also, West Texas A&M travels to the Northwest to take on Central Washington.
Players of the Week
Jason Palmer, Central Oklahoma, Sr., RB, Concord, Calif./Mount Diablo
Palmer keyed UCO's 24-17 road upset of No. 13-ranked West Texas A&M, coming off the bench to set career highs for carries (28) and yards (148) while also rushing for two touchdowns. The senior running back didn't carry the ball in the first quarter and then picked up 33 yards in eight second-period attempts, capping a 57-yard touchdown drive with a one-yard scoring plunge. Palmer rushed 20 times for 115 yards in the second half and his 51-yard TD burst with 1:05 left to play gave UCO a 24-10 lead and clinched the win.
Terry Hardeman, Central Oklahoma, Sr., LB, Spencer, Okla./Star Spencer
Hardeman spearheaded a defensive effort that held No. 13-ranked West Texas A&M to its lowest point and total yardage total since 2006 in UCO's 24-17 upset of the Buffs. The senior linebacker made a team-high 10 tackles (seven solo) with 3.0 for minus-9 yards in losses, including a six-yard sack. The Bronchos limited WT to 239 passing yards -- including just 61 in the second half -- and 320 total yards.
NORTH SPECIAL TEAMS
Anthony Anderson, Central Oklahoma, R-Fr., DB, Oklahoma City, Okla./Western Heights
Anderson came through with a big blocked punt that resulted in a safety in UCO's 24-17 road upset of No. 13-ranked West Texas A&M. The Bronchos led 7-3 when Anderson stormed through to block a WT punt from the Buffs' 31-yard-line, with the ball going out the back of end zone for a safety. UCO then took the resulting free kick 57 yards for a touchdown in taking a 15-3 lead en route to the victory.
Zack Eskridge, Midwestern State, Jr., QB, Rowlett, Texas/Rockwall HS
Eskridge passed for 234 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another score to lead Midwestern State to a convincing 34-6 win over Southeastern Oklahoma Saturday night at Paul Laird Field. The Lone Star Conference's pass efficiency leader connecting on 21-of-30 passes touchdown strikes to David Little for 28 yards, Andy Tanner of 11 yards and Sheldon Galloway for 38 yards before scoring on a 7-yard keeper early in the third quarter. Eskridge has connected on 73.2 percent of his passes this season with six touchdowns and no interceptions. In fact, the Rockwall product hasn't thrown an interception in his last 65 passing attempts and has just one pick in his last 136 dating back to last season.
Rodney Mitchell, Eastern New Mexico, Jr., CB, Sarasota, Fla./Palmetto HS
Mitchell posted his second consecutive game with two interceptions, increasing his season total to four. Mitchell's first interception against Southwestern Oklahoma resulted in a scoring drive.
SOUTH SPECIAL TEAMS
Garrett Tidwell, Angelo State, Jr., RS, Boyd, Texas/Boyd HS
Tidwell gave the Rams an early spark as he returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in ASU's 48-28 loss at NCAA D-I FCS No. 21 Texas State. Tidwell's return came after the host Bobcats scored on their opening possession. He ended the night with five kickoff returns for 182 yards, a 36.4 yard per return average. His touchdown return was the first such return for ASU since 2005. TIdwell also had one punt return for 23 yards in the loss to Texas State.