By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
BLACKWATER DRAW — Eastern New Mexico University was within a couple of extra points at halftime. It took one snap for Southeastern Oklahoma to break away when play resumed.
Sophomore quarterback Kolby Williams hit senior wide receiver Jeremie Berry on a 62-yard scoring bomb on the first play of the second half and the Savages went on to a 28-12 win in a Lone Star Conference crossover game at Greyhound Stadium.
Southeastern, playing its season opener, added another score later in the period and its defense did the rest.
Savages coach Ray Richards said Williams, making his first collegiate start took advantage of the coverage the Hounds (0-2) were in.
“They were in man coverage and pressing (the receiver) over there,” said Richards, who was making his Southeastern head coaching debut. “Our quarterback checked at the line (of scrimmage).”
ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said the game was a marked improvement over last week’s 51-0 loss to Central Arkansas.
“We got better,” he said. “We played with some enthusiasm, and we eliminated some of our mistakes.
“We still didn’t perform well enough to beat a quality team. We still have a lot of work to do.”
King fumbled twice in the first half, helping set up both Eastern touchdowns, but finished with 135 yards on 16 carries. Meantime, Williams went 19 of 30 through the air for 222 yards.
“I thought he played very well for his first (start),” Richards said. “We’re a good football team, and I thought we played well on offense and defense. If we can eliminate our turnovers, I think we’ll be all right.”
Benton finished with 139 yards on 25 carries. But the rest of ENMU’s ground attack produced just 86 yards on 32 attempts.
“We cut the (opponents’) number of big plays down, but that still hurt us terribly,” Ribaudo said. “We’re a typical ‘young’ team — what you see is a stretch of mediocre, a glimpse of brilliance and a glimpse of horrible.”
The Hounds were without senior wide receiver Derrick Hunter for a second consecutive game. Ribaudo said he hopes Hunter will be back for Saturday’s game at Southwestern Oklahoma.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m not discouraged,” Ribaudo said. “We lost and I’m not happy, but I’m encouraged.
“I saw so many good things, and if we can just keep going we can become a formidable team.”
The Savages went on a 16-play, 69-yard scoring drive that consumed more than nearly 6 1/2 minutes and ended with Terel King’s 2-yard blast over right tackle with 5:23 left in the quarter.
Southeastern made it 14-6 after taking over at its own 38 on a 57-yard punt by Lee Price.
On third-and-3, King went inside on a trap play and ran away from the pursuit to score on a 55-yard run.
The Hounds pulled closer after King, on the end of a swing pass from Williams, fumbled again after an 8-yard gain and sophomore defensive end Kyle Wilson recovered at the Southeastern 44.
On the next play, Benton floated a pass to Jason Tezeno deep down the middle for a 36-yard gain. Fullback Robert Garza went inside to the 4, then Benton kept around right end and slipped into the end zone with 39 seconds left.
The Hounds elected to go for two points, but Benton’s scrambling run was stopped a yard short and the Savages carried a 14-12 lead into the half.