By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
The Angelo State Rams are coming off a surprisingly good season — a 9-3 record, including a second-place finish in the Lone Star Conference South Division and a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Things haven’t started out so well this year. Angelo takes a 1-3 record (0-1 Lone Star Conference South) into today’s 5 p.m. clash against Eastern New Mexico University (also 1-3, 0-1) at San Angelo, Texas.
Second-year Rams coach Dale Carr, however, is not about to despair over the turn of events.
“It’s not like I’ve never been 1-3 before, and I’m sure (ENMU) coach (Mark) Ribaudo is the same way,” Carr said. “All of our games, except for the last one, have been pretty close.”
Angelo lost on Saturday at 23rd-ranked and unbeaten Midwestern State 41-17. The Rams gave up 587 total yards in the contest, and trailed 31-0 at halftime.
Needless to say, this is a game in which both teams hope to begin a turnaround.
“Our players’ and our fans’ expectations were higher (coming into the season),” Carr said of his team’s slow start. “But last year was a dream year. Age-wise, talent-wise and experience-wise, we knew we weren’t that much better than anybody else.”
Probably the Rams’ lowlight came at Blackwater Draw, where the Hounds played possibly their best game of the year in rolling to a 38-14 victory. ENMU outscored the Rams 31-0 over the final three quarters, and outgained them 455-191.
The teams have two common opponents. ENMU beat East Central 24-15 and lost to Central Oklahoma 19-16, while Angelo lost 20-6 to the Tigers and 30-24 in triple overtime against the Bronchos.
“Offensively, they do a lot of things good,” Carr said of the Hounds. “The quarterback (junior Michael Benton) is the No. 1 operator, and it’s a unique attack.
“Defensively, they do a good job of attacking you where you’re weak.”
Last week, ENMU lost to 23rd-ranked ranked Abilene Christian 21-0 at home. The Hounds were limited to 181 yards, including a minus-4 by Benton on 15 carries.
Ribaudo did not return messages seeking comment for this story.