Last Week's Games
Midwestern State 43, Central Oklahoma 16
The Bronchos kept it close for a while, trailing just 23-14 at the half, but the Mustangs pulled away in the second half for a comfortable win. Zack Eskridge was impressive once again, hitting 15-20 passes for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns. Andy Tanner was once again his favorite target, catching 4 passes for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Mustangs moved up to number 4 in the NCAA regional poll.
West Texas A&M 43, Angelo State 15
Winners of their last three games, the Buffaloes are playing their best ball of the season, and possibly the best of any LSC team. Taylor Harris threw for 414 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions, with Stephen Burton and Tyson Williams combining for 15 receptions, 335 yards and both TDs. Keithon Flemming chipped in with 117 all-purpose yards and 2 rushing TDs. Angelo State fell to 6-3 on the season, and clings to playoff hopes by a thread.
Southwestern Oklahoma 14, East Central 13
After three quarters, the Tigers looked to have this game under control - leading 13-0 and outgaining the Bulldogs by a 241-154 margin. But Southwestern Oklahoma turned things around, shutting down ECU's offense, and exploding for 184 yards in the fourth quarter, topped off by a 19 yard TD pass from Steve Day to Johnathan Haggerty as time expired.
Southeastern Oklahoma 45, Northeastern State 35
Justin Pitrucha threw for 362 yards and 6 touchdowns, as the Savage Storm outlasted Northeastern State. Daniel Nichols caught 14 passes for 185 and 2 TDs, while Michael Goodlow and Baylen Laury also had 2 TD receptions each. NSU's Kenny Davis threw for 251 yards and 3 TDs, and rushed for 65 yards and another TD for the Riverhawks.
Texas A&M Kingsville 38, Eastern New Mexico 31
The Javelinas rushed out to a 28-7 lead midway through the second quarter, and held off Eastern New Mexico. The Greyhounds twice pulled to within a TD in the fourth quarter, but TAMK answered with a 32 yard TD run the first time, and was able to run out the clock after ENMU made it a 38-31 game with 3:24 to play. Fred Winborn rushed for 263 yards (breaking Johnny Bailey's TAMK record) and 3 TDs to lead the way. J. J. Harp returned from a one game suspension, throwing for 324 yards and 3 TDs, but had an interception returned for a TD in the first quarter.
Tarleton 13, Abilene Christian 6
Defense afficianados had to love this game. The Texans limited ACU to just 257 yards, got 3 turnovers, forced 9 punts and held the Wildcats to just two field goals. The Wildcat defense was even better for most of the night, holding the Texans to just 188 total yards, including a negative 11 rushing. But the Wildcats did have one bad play on defense - a 75 yard TD pass from Scott Grantham to Jahmeel Hobson - and that was the difference in the game.
This Week's Matchups
#5 West Texas A&M at #10 Northeastern State - Mismatch of the Week
No doubt about it, the Buffs are hot. After scoring more than 30 points just once in the first 6 weeks of the season, WT has topped that mark the past three games. The defense has also stepped up their game, giving up just 20 points a game over the past three weeks, to teams that are all averaging over 30 points per game. Meanwhile the Riverhawks offense has come alive lately, averaging 34.5 points and 377.5 yards per game the past two weeks (compared to 13 points and 240 yards per game the first 7 weeks). Too bad for them that they are playing a much tougher team this week. WT in a rout 48-21.
#11 Central Oklahoma at #13 East Central
2009 has been a disappointing season for both of these teams. For the Tigers, the prospect of a winless season looms large after dropping a last second decision to Southwestern Oklahoma last week. For the Bronchos, a 2-7 record was certainly not expected, especially with UCO riding a 7 game winning streak and national rankings coming into the season. Both defenses are down at the bottom of the LSC, but UCO's offense is middle of the pack, and that should be good enough this week. UCO 24-10.
#1 Midwestern State at #9 Eastern New Mexico
West Texas A&M may be the hottest team in the LSC right now...or maybe not. That honor could just as easily go to the Mustangs, who were the last team to beat WT. A week after giving Texas A&M-Kingsville their only loss, MSU soundly defeated Central Oklahoma. Zack Eskridge is quietly having an All-American type season at QB. His 73.3% completion rate would be a new LSC record and his 191.6 efficiency rating is higher than any in recent memory. The MSU defense has been stellar, allowing 20 or more points just twice this year and holding teams to single digit points in 5 of their 9 games this year. The Greyhounds offense could provide a challenge, as they have scored at least 20 points in every game this year. The defense however has allowed 30 or more points in 7 straight games, and just once have held a team to less than 28. Both quarterbacks should set single season team records for passing yards in this game. MSU in a blowout 42-17.
Oklahoma Panhandle State at #12 Southwestern Oklahoma
OPSU has played just three D2 teams this year, losing all three including a blowout by Truman State. On the other hand, the Bulldogs have had their best games that past three weeks, including their first win of the season. Steve Day surpassed the 7,000 yard mark last weekend while Johnathan Haggerty now has over 2,500 receiving yards. SWO gets win number two, 28-14
#8 Texas A&M-Commerce at #7 Southeastern Oklahoma
What do you make of the Lions? Are they a team on the rise, just barely missing out on beating Abilene Christian and Texas A&M-Kingsville? Or, are they lucky to be challenging for the LSC North title, needing second half comebacks to beat Central Oklahoma, Northeastern State and East Central? Southeastern has been more consistent in divisional games, taking first half leads and holding off the opponents to win somewhat comfortably. The second quarter has been especially productive, with SOSU owning a 48-7 scoring advantage. Justin Pitrucha has had a hot hand, throwing for over 1,000 yards and 13 TDs the last three weeks. He needs 212 yards passing to reach 6,000 for his career, while Daniel Nichols is 237 yards and 2 TDs behind Romar Crenshaw's team records. Pitrucha's hot hand and the Savage Storm's consistency should be enough. SOSU 35-21.
#2 Tarleton State at #6 Angelo State
The Texan's loss to Texas A&M-Kingsville may have been a blessing in disguise. Since that game, Tarleton has been playing lights out, knocking off two ranked teams and holding ENMU to a season low 20 points. Last week, the defense kept the team in the game long enough for special teams and the offense to make big plays and upset the #9 ACU Wildcats. That defense is #2 in the LSC in both yards and points allowed and is tops in passing yards given up. The red zone defense has been especially stellar, allowing just 6 TDs and 5 FGs in 21 opportunities - again the best in the LSC. They will have their hands full, with an Angelo State offense scoring 30 points and gaining 405 yards per game. Junior Josh Neiswander is averaging 276 yards passing per game, and has 21 TDs with only 7 interceptions. He is 131 yards from breaking Trey Weishuhn's single season record for passing yards. He has the only LSC receiving combo with 700+ yards receiving each in Dakarai Pecikonis and V'Keon Lacy.
On the flip side, the Angelo defense has sprung some leaks lately, giving up 111 points the past three games. Calvin Fance has 14 sacks on the season. Tarleton's offense has made big plays at the right time - two fourth down conversions against MSU in the drive that tied the game, and last week's 75 yard game winning TD pass.
The Rams may be the most improved team in the LSC, but Tarleton is playing better ball right now, TSU 28-21.
Game of the Year (Part V)
#3 Texas A&M-Kingsville at #4 Abilene Christian
Neither team is playing their best ball right now. In the past five weeks, the Javelinas were soundly beaten by Midwestern State and survived four close calls. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have dropped the last two games and are in danger of missing the playoffs with any more losses.
How they stack up
Scoring offense - ACU 31.3, TAMK 31.2
Scoring defense - ACU 16.7, TAMK 21.7
Rushing offense - TAMK 191.7, ACU 185.1
Rushing defense - ACU 34.3, TAMK 110.0
Passing offense - TAMK 242.3, ACU 202.9
Pass efficiency offense - ACU 121.1, TAMK 131.5
Passing defense - TAMK 213.8, ACU 223.2
Pass efficiency defense - ACU 107.0, TAMK 121.0
Total Offense - TAMK 434.0, ACU 388.0
Total Defense - ACU 257.6, TAMK 323.8
The TAMK offense has gotten consistent results this year, scoring at least 28 points in all but 2 games. The running game leads the LSC with 192 yards per game, with a low of 122. Fred Winborn has emerged as the top threat, with 594 yards and 6 TDs over the past four weeks. Billy Garza has not been consistent this year. While he has thrown 13 TD passes for the season, he has been shut out in 3 of the last 5 games. He does spread the ball around - seven Javelinas have 12 or more catches and eight different players have TD catches. The defense has struggled a bit, giving up over 30 points the past three weeks, after not allowing more than 20 the first six weeks. They have gotten turnovers at opportune times this season helping them win several games. DeIra Glover is the leading tackler with 62 and has 2 interceptions, both of which he has returned for TDs. Jeff Edwards (5.5 TFL, 3 Ints) and Matt Romig (9.5 TFL, 6 sacks) have also come up with big plays during the season.
For ACU, its been the defense that has been consitent. They have allowed more than 300 yards or 14 points just twice all season. The run defense has been especiall stellar, with only one team breaking the century mark - and Angelo got 81 of their 101 on their final drive with the game out of reach. For the season, teams are averaging just 34.3 yards per game and 1.4 per carry. So not able to run the ball, teams have been attempting almost 39 passes and have gained 223 yards per game. Only Eastern New Mexico and West Texas A&M have topped 300 yards and 5 times, ACU has held opponents to under 200. Tony Harp (team leading 49 tackles), Fred Thompson (11.5 TFL, 5 sacks) and Aston Whiteside (11.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks) lead the defense. The offense however has hit some speed bumps the last two weeks, averaging just 278 yards and 13.5 points. The passing game has really been off, with redshirt freshman Mitchell Gale completing just 30-66 passes for 304 yards, 0 TDs and 4 interceptions. The running game picked up the slack against WT, gaining 189 yards, but Tarleton stuffed them, giving up just 63 yards with the longest run an 11 yarder. For the season, ACU is averaging 185 yards per game, good for second in the LSC behind the Javelinas. Darryl Richardson has 833 yards and 13 TDs, while Reggie Brown has 557 yards and 5 TDs. ACU likes to spread the ball around to several receivers - 8 players have at least 11 receptions.
There should certainly be a playoff atmosphere at this game, especially with the cold truth that the loser could miss out on the NCAA playoffs depending on what happens around the rest of the region. For the Javelinas to win, they will need to be able to do what no one else has this year - run the ball against the nation's top run defense. For Abilene, the key is to do what Midwestern State did to TAMK - get ahead early and not let them back within striking distance. They have the running game and defense to do that, but must get better play from the QB position. Flip a coin in this one - Javelinas win yet another nail biter 24-21.