MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Eastern New Mexico University broke its team single-game rushing yards record on Saturday and the Greyhounds cruised to a 63-20 win over Bacone College in the season opener for both teams.
Senior quarterback Michael Benton rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns while his backup, J.T. Thompson, added 171 yards and a pair of scores for the Greyhounds. ENMU finished with 512 rushing yards, five more yards than it gained in a 63-14 trouncing of Oklahoma Panhandle State in last year’s season finale at Blackwater Draw.
It was also the earliest win ever for the Hounds, who had lost four previous games in their history played in August.
The Hounds wasted no time jumping on the NAIA-member Warriors, bolting to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
Benton led the Hounds on a 60-yard drive in eight plays following the opening kickoff, capping it with a 13-yard touchdown run.
Following a Bacone punt, Benton finished off a six-play, 76-yard march with a 53-yard scoring dash on a third-and -6 play.
Tim Hammet returned another Bacone punt 28 yards to set the Hounds up at the Warriors’ 33, and senior running back Jason Walker finished it off seven plays later with a second-and-goal touchdown run from the 3 in the final minute of the period.
The Warriors scored on a 25-yard pass play on their next possession, but Brandon Dominguez brought the ensuing kickoff back 56 yards to the Bacone 44. Thompson took over at QB and carried on three of the four plays for 39 yards, including a 21-yard TD run with just over nine minutes left in the half.
ENMU punted on its next possession, and the Warriors closed to 28-14 with 3:40 to go in the half on another touchdown pass. The Hounds then scored with 39 seconds left in the half, with junior Tim Hammet going in on a 26-yard run to cap an eight-play, 73-yard drive.
Redshirt freshman Devin Sweet recovered a Bacone fumble less than two minutes into the third quarter. Benton raced 63 yards for a touchdown on the next play, then took a seat on the bench for the rest of the night.
Thompson scored on runs of 4 and 47 yards later in the period, and ENMU carried a 56-14 margin into the final stanza.
Thompson added his third TD, a 7-yard run, with 9:09 remaining. The Warriors countered with a touchdown late in the game, but ENMU blocked the extra point.
ENMU’s defense limited Bacone to a net 4 yards rushing and 372 total yards. Sophomore linebacker Texavier Henry was credited with two of the team’s six quarterback sacks.
Junior strong safety Jeremy Hibbler was in on 13 tackles, including nine solos, while senior linebacker Tony Johnson was in on 10 tackles and Henry had nine.