ABILENE, Texas — Sophomore quarterback Michael Benton rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and threw for another score Saturday to help lift Eastern New Mexico University past Abilene Christian 33-30 in the Lone Star Conference South Division opener for both teams.
ENMU (3-2) erased deficits of 16-7 and 22-14, then held on over the final 11 minutes to register its second consecutive win over the Wildcats following five consecutive losses to Abilene Christian. It was the Greyhounds’ third consecutive win following an 0-2 start.
Starting with Lee Price’s 22-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, the Hounds put together 19 consecutive points. The Wildcats got close again on a 4-yard run by Rashon Myles and Myles’ 2-point conversion run with 10:59 left, but the ENMU defense was able to keep them away from scoring territory.
Jason Tezeno’s 28-yard punt return set up Eastern’s first score, a 5-play, 39-yard drive capped by Benton’s 4-yard run.
Abilene Christian countered with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Billy Malone to Robb Spells, a 4-yard run by Myles and a 19-yard field goal by Mark Trevino.
Another 4-yard run by Benton, capping a 10-play, 69-yard drive, pulled the Hounds close, but Benton’s fumble at the ENMU 15 set up a 1-yard run by Taber Minner with 1:29 left in the half.
The Hounds picked up a safety early in the third quarter when Abilene Christian standout Danieal Manning fumbled Price’s punt at the 2, retreated into the end zone and was nailed for a safety by Jeremy Mullins and Mark Patterson.
Following the Wildcats’ free kick, ENMU junior Fide Davalos broke off a 53-yard run on the second play to put the Hounds in front.
Eastern’s final score came when Kenneth Odie sacked Malone and forced a fumble which he recovered at the Abilene Christian 9. On third down, Benton hit running back Jason Tezeno for a 5-yard touchdown, and Price’s PAT kick made it 33-22.
ENMU finished with a 338-323 advantage in total offense, with Benton going 7-for-13 through the air for 89 yards.
Linebacker Tim Ojeda was credited with a team-leading 11 tackles for the Hounds, including seven solo stops and two tackles for loss, and he also had a pass interception.