West Texas Division II powerhouses collide Saturday
Angelo State’s 5-1 record represents the Rams’ best start in four years and a victory last week propelled them into the NCAA Division II Top 25.
"If I was any better, there’d be two of me," said Josh Neiswander, the Rams’ standout quarterback.
And as a reward, the Rams get... Abilene Christian? No. 2-ranked and 6-0 Abilene Christian? Winner of 16 consecutive regular-season games and 33 of 37 games Abilene Christian?
That’s the one. The mission is obviously not nearly accomplished in San Angelo, the city that hosts this Lone Star Conference South Division game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"We just know it’s a big game for us because it’s the next one we play," said Neiswander of his team that this week debuted at No. 23 in the American Football Coaches Top 25 poll after defeating Midwestern State on Saturday. "It’s a big game because it’s a conference game and we’re playing a really good team."
If the Rams are competitive Saturday, much will have to do with Neiswander, an emerging NCAA Division II star who as director of Angelo State’s pro-style offense is redefining how the position is played in Tom Green County.
"He’s everything you want at quarterback," coach Dale Carr said. "He’s got a very solid arm that I think [compares] at any level in college. He’s very accurate, he’s smart and a great student of the game. He’s really become assertive on the field. There’s absolutely nothing to not like about him."
West Texas A&M junior running back and former Mineral Wells standout Kelvin Thompson has been suspended from the team for the remainder of the season for violating departmental and university policy, said Kent Johnson, the school’s media relations director.
Johnson said Thompson’s status for next season will be evaluated in the spring.
Thompson, a versatile 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, was one of the Buffaloes’ top playmakers. He averaged more than 100 yards of total offense per game and led the team in scoring.
Gale, Neiswander take the reins at ACU, Angelo
A year ago, Josh Neiswander and Mitchell Gale were mere spectators for their respective football teams. Now, the two quarterbacks find themselves getting ready to start in one of the biggest games of their careers. The two will hook up Saturday, when No. 2 Abilene Christian plays No. 23 Angelo State in a Lone Star Conference game in San Angelo.
It’s no surprise to see Neiswander leading the Rams. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback started all 10 games for Angelo State as a sophomore in 2007, throwing for 1,901 yards and seven touchdowns. But his season was cut short last year, when he broke a leg late in the game against Texas State in the season opener. He spent the rest of the season working with the other quarterbacks and watching the game from the sidelines.
“For it to end the first game, it was real disappointing,” the Winnsboro High School graduate said. “But it was something I prayed a lot about. I leaned on the Lord to help me through it, and, without a doubt, I couldn’t have done without him.”
The Rams struggled without Neiswander, who completed 18-of-25 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns before his injury. Angelo State wouldn’t have another 200-yard passing game the rest of the season while throwing for only nine touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Javelinas turn the tide on turnovers
During the season-opening ballgame, Texas A&M-Kingsville turns over the ball five times and walks out of Javelina Stadium with a 27-16 victory over the nation’s fourth-ranked NCAA Division II team, Delta State. Four weeks later, in a place that has been anything but kind to the Javelinas of late, A&M-Kingsville is generous again by committing five turnovers. Yet the Javelinas prevail in overtime 23-17, spoiling West Texas A&M’s 50th anniversary of play at Kimbrough Stadium. In both instances, although to a lesser extent in the latter case, A&M-Kingsville had been in control of matters.
Last week, the ninth-ranked Javelinas finally were on the other end, getting three interceptions and three fumbles off No. 11 Tarleton State. Despite a decided offensive edge, the game largely was a struggle before the Javs came away with the 34-20 win. The Javelinas giveth, and no one can take it. The opponent giveth and the Javs struggle to take it. One does see the irony there, correct?
“Yes, I do. But it doesn’t matter,” Javs senior rover John Reeves said. “We’re just out there trying to play hard.”
“It’s a wild game, isn’t it?” a chuckling third-year A&M-Kingsville coach Bo Atterberry said. “It’s like we get the fumble recovery right off the bat and got great field position and Billy (Garza) throws an interception right after it. Like I said it’s a wild game, the ball bounces funny ways. We’re fortunate. Tarleton’s a good football team. They kept battling. I assume they felt like we did at West Texas. Going into the half they were down 11 and probably felt fortunate it was just 11 the way we were playing between the end zones.”
Coach Atterberry concerned about costly penalties
Had the tone been a little different late in last Saturday’s ballgame against Tarleton State, a couple of unnecessary personal fouls could have cost Texas A&M-Kingsville. Fortunately, the defense of the ninth-ranked Javelinas’ came through again.
Linebacker Jeff Edwards had just intercepted his second pass of the night with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining. Running back Fred Winborn scored from 34 yards out on the next play and was penalized for an over-exuberant celebration. On the point-after kick, lineman Trent Perkins retaliated after being punched or shoved by a TSU player and the Javelinas were nailed with another unsportsmanlike call.
Thus, A&M-Kingsville was forced to kick off from its 7 with a 34-20 lead and 2:32 remaining.
“I think Fred got caught up in the moment. You can’t showboat. You’ve got to celebrate with teammates, a brief something in the end zone with teammates, and then get to the sideline as quick as you can,” Javs coach Bo Atterberry said. “That’s all they’re going to tolerate. I don’t know when that rule got put in but you can’t do any Deion Sanders 20 yards out. He got caught up in it. He apologized for it and understands.”
Javelinas Try to Keep Streak Alive
The #7/#9 Texas A&M-Kingsville football team hits the road this week for a matchup with long time Lone Star Conference rival Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday at 2 o'clock. The Javelinas (6-0, 4-0, 2-0) have won their last seven regular season and road games dating back to 2008.
The Hoggies are coming off their third win over a ranked opponent after downing Tarleton State by a 34-20 margin last week. The team has played superbly on both sides of the ball, but it was the defense that stepped up its play against TSU forcing six turnovers.
All-American linebacker, ex-pro to be honored as ASU alumnus
It would probably be easy to forget about your hometown and those responsible for your success if you had the opportunity to live out the dream of playing professional football. But that’s not who former Angelo State University linebacker Clayton Weishuhn is.
Weishuhn, after permanently hanging up his shoulder pads following a six-year NFL career, returned to his hometown of Wall and his farm, where he has remained an active supporter of Angelo State. The two-time All-American will be celebrated as a distinguished alumnus and one of 13 honorees at ASU’s homecoming dinner tonight.
RiverHawks hoping old look brings success
Just two years after becoming the RiverHawks, the Northeastern State football team will wear Redmen jerseys on Saturday night against Southwestern Oklahoma State University as a part of the “Retro Game.”
“They are new Redmen jerseys that were bought for this game,” said RiverHawks coach Kenny Evans. “Hopefully they will bring a little of that Redmen luck back.”
Northeastern State (1-5, 1-1 LSC North) is coming off a 27-12 loss to Texas A&M-Commerce last week. In the game, the RiverHawks led 12-10 in the fourth quarter, but the Lions took advantage of NSU errors to score 17 unanswered points in the final quarter.
Gracy makes mark at Tarleton
There is something that keeps drawing Shay Gracy back to Tarleton State. After completing an outstanding high school volleyball career at Stephenville, Gracy left town to play for Angelo State, but soon wound up returning home to compete for the TexAnns. Then, after starring as a sophomore and junior, Gracy’s planned to skip her senior season at TSU and pursue her master’s at another school. But that changed after a five-set loss to Abilene Christian in the 2008 Lone Star Conference Tournament semifinals.
“I just decided it wasn’t over,” said the 6-foot Gracy, who earned her bachelor’s degree in fitness management last December. “I told myself I wasn’t done yet. I still had more to give to this program.”
Javelinas knock off Aggies
The Texas A&M-Kingsville volleyball team picked up their first Lone Star Conference victory of the season on Thursday night against Cameron University at Kingsville Hampton Inn Court by a score of 26-24, 25-21, 25-17. The Javelinas (11-9, 1-4) matched their 2008 season win total with the victory. They won two hard fought sets and then they easily won the third set by posting a .452 attack. The first set featured 11 ties and the second set had six ties.
Banged up 'Belles best Lions
The Angelo State University volleyball team returned to the Junell Center Thursday night, and rolled past Lone Star Conference foe Texas A&M-Commerce 25-16, 25-21, 25-20.
“Our girls play well at home,” ASU head coach Chuck Waddington said. “The crowd was great tonight. It feels real good to be back home.”
Lady Buffs sweep SWOSU
Another Lone Star Conference opponent fell Thursday night at WT Fieldhouse as the West Texas A&M Lady Buffs swept the Southwestern Oklahoma State Bulldogs and stayed perfect in conference play. The sixth-ranked Lady Buffs (19-3 overall, 5-0 LSC) still haven't dropped a set in Lone Star Conference play this season after sweeping the Bulldogs (4-22, 1-4), 25-14, 25-12, 25-16.
"We were in a really good groove for a while," WT freshman Kelsey Mangum said. "I think we played really well together."
Mustangs rout TexAnns, 3-0
The Midwestern State volleyball team improved to a perfect 4-0 in LSC play Thursday night with a three-set victory over Tarleton State (7-15, 2-3) at Wisdom Gym. The Mustangs (8-16, 4-0) won 25-20, 25-18 and 25-13.
MSU winning with duo splitting duties in goal
Midwestern State women’s soccer coach Jeff Trimble is well aware of the adage many people use in the other football, “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any quarterbacks.” But the 12-year coach is attempting to make a similar situation work for his 10th-ranked Mustangs.
You could say his Mustangs are using “Tag Team Goalies.” Through the first 10 games of the season the MSU women have used two goalies — senior Ashley Meek of Canyon and freshman Mallory Whitworth of McKinney — and split time between them.
ASU Soccer capsule, 10/9
WT women's soccer matches postponed
Cole earns third LSC Runner of the Week award