Another 5-2 week, now 48-14 on the season.
Last Week's Games
TAMC 31, ECU 28
Much closer than expected. The Lions had to come from behind again to defeat the winless Tigers. Trailing 14-28 at the 8:17 mark of the third quarter, the Lions scored the final 17 points of the contest, converting two ECU fumbles into two TDs, and holding them to 19 yards on four possessions. Josh Phillips had his best game at QB for ECU, throwing for 187 yards and 3 TDs.
SBU 42, NSU 34
The Riverhawks had their best offensive showing since week one, gaining 368 yards and a season high 34 points, but the defense could not slow down the Bearcats, as SBU had 262 yards rushing and 287 through the air. Kenny Davis threw for 267 yards and rushed for 69 to lead the Riverhawk offense. Joe Kok continued his outstanding season, punting 5 times for a 42.8 average and pinning SBU on their 14, 14, and 1 yard line on his first three kicks.
WTAM 32, ACU 21
Honestly now, who saw this one coming? In front of a homecoming crowd of 12, 875, the newly minted #1 team in the nation dropped a 32-21 decision to West Texas. Keithon Flemming had 173 all purpose yards and 4 TDs to lead the Buffalo offense, while the defense held ACU to just 301 yards, closing the door in the fourth quarter - ACU started 3 possessions, gaining just 6 yards, had an interception, and ending ACU's day with 3 consecutive sacks.
ASU 42, SOSU 30
Dwight Pete's 9 yard TD run gave the Rams a 28-9 lead with just under 5 minutes to go in the first half, and Angelo State cruised to a 12 point road win. Two Savage Storm turnovers led to 14 first half points, helping the Rams build their early cushion. Both quarterbacks had good games - Josh Nieswander threw for 341 yards and 3 TDs, while Justin Pitrucha had 347 yards and 4 TDs. Calvin Fance had a career day, racking up 5 sacks for ASU. He now leads the nation with 13 for the season.
UCO 41, SWO 23
The Bronchos led just 21-17 after a Chad McIntosh field goal with 14:56 to play, but the Bronchos scored three straight TDs to put the game away. Brandon Noohi was spectacular, completing 30-39 passes for 270 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions, and rushing for a game high 146 yards and 3 more TDs. Steve Day had his best game of the season, throwing for 255 yards and 2 Bulldog TDs and no interceptions.
TSU 30, ENMU 20
The first half belonged to the Eastern New Mexico, but the Blackwater Draw mystique wore off at the break, as the Texans shook off the upset minded Greyhounds. In the first half Tarleton's offense was stymied - their two longest drives were ended by turnovers and six of their other 8 possessions were 3 or fewer plays. Luckily the defense was up to the task - after ENMU's second TD at the 10:12 mark of the second quarter, the next 14 possessions averaged 3.8 plays for 10.1 yards, and ended with 7 punts, 6 turnovers and one fourth down non-conversion. Jahmeel Hobson had 10 receptions for 170 yards and a TD.
MSU 38, TAMK 7
The Game of the Year (Part III) was anticlimatic, as Midwestern State took control early and cruised to a surprising 38-7 win over #7 Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Mustangs scored on their first four possessions and six of their first seven. The offense had 457 total yards, while holding the Javelinas to just 186. Zack Eskridge broke the D2 record for single game percentage completion rate as he hit on 24 of 25 passes for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bee Jay Mathis had 100 yards rushing, and Neal Carr chipped in with 62 more and 2 TDs. Fred Winborn was the lone bright spot for the Javelina offense, rushing for 108 yards on 11 carries.
This Week's Matchups
#11 Central Oklahoma at #2 Midwestern State - Mismatch of the week
The Bronchos face a stern test this week as the attempt to win consecutive games for the first time this season. Midwestern State comes into this game fresh off of a dominant win over previously undefeated Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Mustang offense must be licking their chops, facing a defense that is allowing 33 points and 435 yards per game. This is the type of game that gets labeled a trap game a lot, but with two losses and a season finale vs. Abilene Christian, MSU should be very focused. This one could get ugly in a hurry, MSU 41-14.
#7 Southeastern Oklahoma at #10 Northeastern State
Whatever miniscule playoff chances the Savage Storm had prior to last week's game are now gone, after dropping the game to Angelo State. That's not to say that there is nothing left to play for this season. Southeastern Oklahoma and Texas A&M-Commerce are both undefeated in LSC North play and a win over Northeastern State would set up a showdown next weekend for the division title. The Riverhawks could force a three win title with a wins the next 2 weeks and an SOSU win over TAMC next weekend. The defenses are pretty even, with Northeastern State enjoying a slight advantage. The Savage Storm just have too many offensive weapons for NSU to keep up, SOSU 31-21.
#5 Angelo State at #6 West Texas A&M
Throw the records out - West Texas showed last week that they can compete with anyone, anywhere. The Buffs have won two in a row and the return of Keithon Flemming is the main reason why. He is averaging 137 all purpose yards and has scored 6 TDs in his two games back, and his presence has helped Taylor Harris throw for more than 720 yards as well as 5 TDs and just 1 interception. But while WT is playing for pride the rest of the season, Angelo State is still playing for a shot at and LSC title and the NCAA playoffs. The Rams rebounded nicely from their loss to ACU, winning handily over Southeastern Oklahoma 42-30. Josh Neiswander continues to have an outstanding season, and is 371 yards and 3 TDs from the single season records for ASU. West Texas A&M is on a roll and will keep muddying up the LSC and NCAA playoff waters this week. WT 31-24.
#12 East Central at #13 Southwestern Oklahoma
This two winless teams should be commended for continuing to play hard this late in a season that has been extremely disappointing to say the least. East Central gave LSC North frontrunner Texas A&M-Commerce all they could handle, before turnovers caught up with them in the second half. Southwestern Oklahoma was 11 yards from tying UCO late in the third quarter before settling for a field goal and the defense running out of gas as the Bronchos scored 3 fourth quarter touchdowns. Despite a tough season, Bulldog QB Steve Day could possibly surpass 7,000 yards passing for his career. East Central's offense has been showing signs of life the past couple of weeks, and the defense has been a tad bit better most of the year, so will take ECU 27-21.
#9 Eastern New Mexico at #4 Texas A&M-Kingsville
With several top offensive players missing due to injuries and suspensions, the Greyhounds had no chance against #13 Tarleton State last Saturday. Someone forgot to tell them that, as ENMU took a 13-0 lead into the half. Reality took hold after the break, and Tarleton eventually won, as the offense turned the ball over four times, resulting in 14 Texan points. They will be facing an angry Javelina team that was embarrased by Midwestern State. More importantly, they will be facing a Javelina team that has no margin for error the rest of the season. Billy Garza needs 277 yards passing to eclipse the 5,000 yard mark. Wednesday morning it was announced that ENMU Head Coach Mark Ribaudo had lifted the suspensions, but it won't be enough for the Greyhounds. TAMK 38-21.
#1 Abilene Christian at #3 Tarleton State - Game of the Year (Part IV)
What a shame - one of these teams will suffer their second loss of the season, putting both the NCAA playoffs and the LSC title in jeopardy. Tarleton's position is a bit more precarious, as they are currently in the #10 spot in the regiona rankings, while ACU is #4. Why the difference with both teams at 7-1? Three words - Strength of Schedule. While ACU's past oppenents are only 25-28 (91st out of 126 schools), Tarleton's are 20-35 (121st). The difference? ACU's opening opponent, Northwest Missouri is 7-0 (outside of the ACU game), while Tarleton's opening foe, Arkansas-Monticello is 2-4 versus D2 teams (not counting the TSU game). Long story short, this is a virtual must-win for the Texans.
How they stack up
Scoring offense - ACU 34.5, TSU 34.2
Scoring defense - TSU 15.0, ACU 17.1
Rushing offense - ACU 200.4, TSU 180.0
Rushing defense - ACU 40.0, TSU 95.9
Passing offense - TSU 236.2, ACU 204.2
Pass efficiency offense - ACU 130.7, TSU 125.1
Passing defense - TSU 174.0, ACU 226.2
Pass efficiency defense - TSU 105.1, ACU 106.0
Total Offense - TSU 416.2, ACU 404.6
Total Defense - ACU 266.2, TSU 269.9
As the numbers show, both teams are really good at running the ball and stopping opponents rushing attacks. The passing games are good, if not great and the pass defense efficiency numbers place the teams at #2 and #3 in the conference. Both teams are full of solid players, but none with the star power of last year's Wildcat team. So who wins the game?
Abilene Christian. Why? Tarleton has struggle somewhat the past few weeks. In the loss to TAMK, the Texans allowed 228 yards rushing, and ACU's running game leads the LSC. If not for a miracle finish at Midwestern State (one that began with an uncharacteristic mistake by Zack Eskridge), then the Texans might already be out of the playoff race now. And trailing Eastern New Mexico at the half, and leading them by just three with 6 minutes to play? That's the same pattern TAMK had been following before last week's blowout loss.
Abilene did lose to West Texas A&M last week, but a couple of things might have played into that game. The Wildcats might have lost a bit of focus with being voted the #1 team in the nation (speculation). Secondarily, Keithon Flemming had a monster game, with 173 all purpose yards and 4 TDs. Tarleton has some good running backs, but no one like Flemming. Finally, they were facing a team that had a lot to prove from last year's 93-68 playoff game. There doesn't appear to be the same kind of mojo working against ACU this week.
Abilene Christian in a tough one, 27-24.