Freedom New Mexico
Two nights after his play-calling helped Eastern New Mexico University open its season with an impressive win, longtime Greyhounds offensive coordinator Mike Howard was recovering from heart surgery Monday at a Lubbock hospital.
Howard underwent a triple bypass at Methodist Hospital, according to Greyhounds head coach Mark Ribaudo.
Ribaudo said Howard would be in the intensive care unit for a few days. He said Howard experienced chest pains Monday while exercising, but wasn’t sure if the incident was technically a heart attack.
Howard’s status for Saturday’s game at Angelo State University is unclear, but Ribaudo said assistant coach Draco Miller will fill in for now.
Ribaudo said Howard has helped numerous players graduate, and leads a Bible study before every Greyhound game.
“Irreplaceable is a word that comes to mind,” Ribaudo said. “I’m not eloquent enough to put into words what (Howard’s) meant to Eastern New Mexico Greyhound football and its athletes. He’s taken this offense to new heights. It’s a record-breaking offense, and it’s because of his work.”
Operating out of a spread offense Howard installed three years ago, sophomore quarterback Wes Wood of Muleshoe nearly matched the school record with seven touchdown passes as Eastern New Mexico claimed a 59-21 win over Southern Nazarene that ended just before midnight Saturday at Blackwater Draw.
Wood threw for 391 yards in the game, which was delayed three times by lightning and did not start until one hour and 45 minutes after its scheduled 6 p.m. kickoff in the season opener for both teams.
Kevin Kott holds the school record of eight TD passes in a game, set Oct. 6, 1984, against Southern Colorado.
The host Greyhounds scored 24 straight points over the second and third quarter to break a 21-21 tie. The game featured three ties and a pair of lead changes.
Troy Harris’ 19-yard TD on a screen pass gave the Hounds a 45-21 lead with 13:49 left in the third quarter.
The ENMU defense allowed 283 yards, and picked off five passes, including Curtis Jackson’s 77-yard return to cap the scoring. Senior defensive end Matt Kalisch recorded a team-high 10 tackles and two sacks as ENMU shutout Southern Nazarene in the second half.
Senior Jesse Poku was Wood’s favorite target with 10 catches for 126 yards and three TDs, giving him 137 catches for his career to break Derrick Hunter’s school mark of 128.
Wood and Kalisch were named the Lone Star Conference North offensive and defensive players of the week Monday for their efforts.
Quarterback Brady Wardlaw played a role in all three Crimson Storm touchdowns, rushing 10 times for 38 yards and two scores and throwing for 119 yards and a 31-yard toss to Kevin Brooks early in the second quarter.