Late in the game, West Texas A&M had the ball at the Mustangs’ 27 and 15-yard line, but were stuffed both times coming up with no points as the Western New Mexico University football team captured the 21-17 win over the Buffs Saturday in Lone Star Conference action.
The defense responded when needed, as after a West Texas A&M (3-8, 1-7 LSC) touchdown brought them back to within four midway through the fourth quarter, the Mustang defense made sure that would be the last score they would allow.
WNMU (4-7, 3-5 LSC) followed that WT touchdown with a three-and-out and a fake punt attempt failed giving the Buffs the ball at the Mustang 27. A four-yard loss on a rushing attempt on first down set the tone, with Connor Mowat making the stop. Two straight incompletions followed before a field goal attempt from 48 yards out by Alex Schrag missed wide right to keep the separation at four. It was a tough day for Schrag, as he missed two other field goals on the day.
After WNMU got the ball back, they were able to pick up one first down, before another special team’s loss on fourth down turned the ball over on downs and gave WT great field position at the WNMU 15.
Faced with an even tougher stop this time around, the defense didn’t budge. With just three minutes left in the game and protecting a 21-17 lead, WNMU came up big. After a holding penalty made it second-and-19, WT completed a pass for 15 yards to set up a third-and-four at the nine. Following an incompletion to bring up fourth down, Leo Marin made a big play breaking up the pass to turn the ball over on downs.
The Mustangs then ran the clock out with Nolan Grigsby picking up 36 yards on fourth-and-13 to end the game.
Early on, a promising drive to start the game for WNMU was ended by an interception from Kevon Thomas. His interception later resulted in a 19-yard field goal by Schrag to give the Buffs the 3-0 lead. It was a big stop by the Mustang defense as they held on two straight running plays from the two-yard line to force the short field goal.
WNMU answered right back when Javia Hall found D’Angelo Bowie for a 16-yard strike and a 7-3 lead late in the first quarter. The TD pass capped off a 10 play, 75-yard drive.
WT came back to regain the lead at 10-7 as they scored to start the second quarter on a 13-yard passing touchdown from Ben Arbuckle for Jordan Johnson.
WT had a couple of other drives that nearly resulted in points before halftime, but came up empty as a missed field goal and a turnover on downs left the score 10-7 at the break.
WNMU put the first points on the board in the second half when they began a lengthy 12 play drive that started out near midfield. A big third-and-20 was picked up on a pass interference play before the Mustangs were faced with a fourth-and-four at the WT 23. Hall ended up rushing on the play and not only got the first down, but he broke free for the 23-yard score and a 14-10 WNMU lead.
Following a missed field goal by WT on their next drive, the Mustangs took their largest lead of the game at 21-10 when an 11-yard pitch-and-catch from Hall to Bowie ended the seven play drive and left just 11 minutes to go in the game. Leading up to the play, Hall found DeAndre Williams for 26 yards and then a 27-yard strike to Bowie before finding him again for the score.
After the score, WT committed a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties to place the ball at the WT 35. The Mustangs went for an on-side kick that was recovered by the Buffs. They were then able to go 70 yards in eight plays to bring the game back to within four points setting up the defense for several big stops to win the game.
WT outgained WNMU 353-290, including 237-195 through the air and 116-95 on the ground. WNMU committed the only turnover in the game.
Hall ending up completing 17-28 for 195 and two touchdowns, he also rushed for a score. Bowie snagged nine passes for 100 yards and two scores. Justin Harris rushed nine times for 45 yards. Dominic Barry collected 11 tackles, six solo and a tackle for loss. Aaron Leauma added 10 solo tackles, two tackles for loss. Joe Tito and Ian Davis had eight tackles apiece.
Arbuckle completed 17-32 for 237 yards and two scores to pace the Buffs. Avery Lewis caught four passes for 64 yards and a TD. Warren Witherspoon rushed 21 times for 75 yards. Daelin Young posted seven tackles, two for loss to lead the defense.
WNMU ends the season winning three of their final four games and finished sixth in the LSC ahead of Texas A&M-Kingsville, West Texas A&M and UT Permian Basin.