By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
BLACKWATER DRAW — Midwestern State hardly looked the part of a .500 team Saturday night.
Scoring on 10 of their first 12 possessions — eight touchdowns, two field goals — the Indians rolled up 668 total yards in a 62-27 Lone Star Conference South Division rout of Eastern New Mexico University at Blackwater Draw.
Sophomore quarterback Daniel Polk, making his first start of the season, rushed for a school-record 244 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries while throwing for 149 yards and two more scores.
“We just got overwhelmed,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said. “That’s a team full of good athletes. We’ve had trouble with the really talented quarterbacks who can throw and run the last couple of years.
“We’d have this kid sacked and he just worked his magic. I can’t blame our kids — they played hard and didn’t quit. Tonight, Midwestern was just bigger, stronger and faster.”
The Indians (5-4, 2-3 South) scored on all but one of their eight first-half possessions, taking the lead for good (17-10) on a 59-yard TD pass from Polk to Myron Cooper with 3 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter.
That was the third touchdown — all 59 yards or longer — in a four-play stretch covering just 32 seconds. But it signaled the beginning of the end for the Hounds (4-6, 2-4).
“We don’t click on all cylinders all the time,” Midwestern coach Bill Maskill said. “If we do, we’ve got a chance to be a pretty good team.”
Maskill said his team has played well for three weeks now, beginning with a 41-14 thumping of then-No. 6-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“After the Kingsville game, the kids said they were mad,” Maskill said. “We asked why, and they said, ‘Think what it could’ve been this year.’”
Ribaudo said his team, worn down over a rugged season, was simply unable to stop the onslaught.
“They’ve had that team all year, and in this game they showed it,” he said of the Indians. “They put it all together.”
With ENMU totaling 419 yards, the teams combined for nearly 1,100 yards for the game. Sophomore quarterback Michael Benton rushed for 169 yards — his seventh 100-yard game of the season — and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
Benton set school single-season records for rushing touchdowns, now at 16, and for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,157.
Senior wide receiver Derrick Hunter, who also started at cornerback, caught three passes to break the school career record in that category with 127.
After Lee Price capped ENMU’s 67-yard drive following the opening kickoff with a 26-yard field goal, Midwestern’s offensive barrage began. The Indians tied it with Foster’s 39-yard field goal, then forced an ENMU punt and took the lead Richard caught a pass in the right flat, broke a tackle attempt near the 10 and scored with 4:05 left in the quarter.
The Hounds tied it on the second play following the kickoff when Benton found a wide-open Fide Davalos down the middle on a 64-yard scoring play. But it was all Indians after that.
Cooper hauled in a 59-yard TD toss from Polk on the first play after the kickoff, capping a run of three TDs on four plays in 32 seconds. Then, after Price missed wide right on a 40-yard field goal attempt, the Indians covered 77 yards in six plays with Roberts throwing a 5-yard TD pass to Jason Washington with 13:44 left in the half.
Foster (43 yards) and Price (25) then exchanged field goals. On Midwestern’s next possession, Polk somehow turned a near-sack into an 18-yard gain to the ENMU 29, then kept around the left side for a 26-yard touchdown two plays later, making it 34-13 with 2:20 to go.
ENMU had a delay-of-game penalty on the first play after the kickoff and eventually punted. The Indians covered 51 yards in five plays, with Richard breaking open over the middle and maneuvering his way into the end zone on a 24-yard scoring pass from Roberts with 32 seconds left.
The teams combined for more than 600 yards of offense in the half, including 355 by Midwestern.