By Dave Wagner
THE EASTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY football team has lost its two toughest tests of the season — 24-14 decisions on the road against Abilene Christian and Midwestern State.
To stay in contention for an NCAA Division II playoff berth, the Greyhounds must win at fifth-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville (6-1) in a Lone Star Conference South Division clash Saturday night.
The Hounds, 6-2 (2-2 South) after Saturday’s 10-3 win over Texas A&M-Commerce, have beaten the Javelinas (6-1, 3-0) in two of the last three years. But both victories came at home, and Eastern has never won at Kingsville.
“It’s going to be a game — and it’s their Homecoming,” ENMU defensive end B.J. Biggar said after Saturday’s win. “They always have a good team. We’re going to have to practice hard this week and try to get them on the road.”
ENMU leads the LSC in scoring defense and total defense, but will be put to the test by a Kingsville offense which has averaged 30 points a game against a rugged schedule.
The Javs have won six in a row since a season-opening loss at Division I-AA Portland State. They have victories over Division I-AA Nichols State as well as LSC toughies Tarleton State and Midwestern State, the latter two on the road.
The first-year Zias women’s team (2-11, 1-6 LSC) has been eliminated from making the six-team conference postseason tournament, but Eastern coach Travis McCorkle is hopeful they finish strong this weekend at home against Southwestern Oklahoma (3 p.m. Friday) and Central Oklahoma (noon Sunday).
While UCO is battling Texas A&M-Commerce and West Texas A&M for the league title, McCorkle said the Zias would like to beat SWOSU (2-14-2, 0-7) and ensure that they won’t finish last.
“We’re pushing for the win on Friday,” he said. “We want to show our fans everything we’ve been working for all year.
“The players are disappointed right now (after Sunday’s 1-0 loss to East Central). To me, that was a good sign. Hopefully, it hurts a little bit and can motivate them for Friday.”
Quick hits — Veteran ENMU football coach Bud Elliott is looking for his 200th win in 36 seasons as a college head coach this week. He’s 199-171-9 overall, including 62-41-2 in 10 years at Eastern. … Freshman Lee Price’s 46-yard field goal Saturday against Commerce was the longest for an Eastern kicker since Portales High grad Jason Crowson’s 49-yarder with six seconds left beat West Texas A&M 10-7 at Blackwater Draw on Nov. 4, 1995. The school record is 53 yards by Rosli Hussein, who did it in two separate games in October 1985. … While no one had more than seven tackles for ENMU’s defense against Commerce, Lions middle linebacker Jared Williams was a one-man wrecking crew. His 19 total tackles against the Hounds gives him 90 for the season — 38 more than anyone on the TAMC squad. … Angelo State has announced it will become the sixth member of the Lone Star Conference South Division in baseball beginning with the 2004-05 school year. ASU athletic director Jerry Vandergriff said the availability of the minor league San Angelo Colts’ home field and the proximity of numerous collegiate programs would allow the school to initiate the sport at a modest cost.