By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
BLACKWATER DRAW — Junior running back Ryan Beard scored his third touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run with 1:07 left, and second-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville outlasted Eastern New Mexico University 29-22 Saturday night in a battle for the Lone Star Conference South Division lead at Greyhound Stadium.
Beard’s touchdown capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive.
ENMU (5-4, 4-1 South) had gone in front with 6:56 left on a 2-yard touchdown run by Jason Tezeno and an unusual 2-point conversion — the Javs blocked Lee Price’s PAT kick, but the ball bounced to quarterback and holder Steven Hinson and he sprinted into the corner of the end zone.
The teams exchanged punts before senior quarterback Daniel Taylor led the Javs (7-0, 4-0) on their game-winning drive. He completed passes of 9 yards to Maurice Washington and 20 yards to Clay Woodard, with a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty tacked on to move the ball to the Eastern 36.
After a 4-yard gain by Taylor, Beard carried on four consecutive plays. His 17-yard run put the ball at the ENMU 4 with 1:17 left, and he crashed in over right tackle on the next play.
“I thought it showed a lot of character,” Taylor said of the drive. “They played us tough tonight. We just executed at the end.
“We had a lot of respect for (Eastern) coming in. We knew they had a good team, and that it would be that type of game.”
Hinson, who had left with a shoulder injury on ENMU’s previous series, returned to the game following the kickoff but the Hounds were unable to generate a first down.
Beard finished with 94 yards on 27 carries for Kingsville, while Taylor completed 15-of-23 passes for 147 yards and rushed for 75 yards on 19 attempts.
Taylor was sacked several times by ENMU’s blitzing defense.
“They had a good scheme,” he said. “They gave us some trouble trying to pick it up, but in the second half I think we did a little better job.”
Hinson carried 28 times for 118 yards in the Hounds’ option offense. The Javs outgained ENMU for the game 324-251.
“Defensively, we played real well,” ENMU coach Bud Elliott said. “We could’ve won that football game. We battled the No. 2 team in the nation right to the end.”
Kingsville took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Beard, who was the LSC South’s Player of the Week on offense last week while filling in for injured starter Larry Williams. The Javs’ drive covered 58 yards after a fumble by Hinson.
“In a ballgame of this magnitude, turnovers can kill you and they killed us tonight,” Elliott said. “Kingsville was good enough to take advantage of it.”
The Hounds moved in front 14-7 at halftime, converting two miscues by Taylor into touchdowns early in the second quarter.
Hinson’s 2-yard TD run — after a fumble by Taylor at the Javs’ 28 — tied it less than two minutes into the period. Then, on the third play after the kickoff, junior Corey White intercepted a floating pass near the left sideline and cruised 25 yards into the end zone.
It marked the first time this season that the Javs have trailed at halftime, and it was the first time in South action that ENMU led at the intermission.
Kingsville mounted scoring drives on its first two possessions of the third quarter. After forcing a three-and-out following the second-half kickoff, the Javs covered 64 yards in eight plays with Beard slashing over from the 6.
Hinson fumbled at the ENMU 34 on the Hounds’ next possession.
Facing fourth-and-inches, Taylor kept the ball off left tackle and broke down the middle, lunging into the end zone for a 21-14 lead midway through the period.