Not so special teams: Indians keep playoff hopes alive at expense of Hounds

Freedom Newspapers

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Midwestern State linebacker Fred Moore partially blocked two Eastern New Mexico University punts, helping set up a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that lifted the Indians to a 34-20 Lone Star Conference South Division victory on Saturday.

MSU (7-2, 4-1 South) took over second place in the division from the Greyhounds (5-5, 4-2) and kept alive its hopes of an NCAA Division II postseason berth.

Moore’s first block limited Steven Todd’s punt to 17 yards and gave the Indians the ball at their 41 with 4:26 left in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Daniel Polk, in for injured starter Rahsaan Bell, completed two passes for 25 yards and rushed three times for 16 to help move the ball to the ENMU 29 as the quarter ended. Running back Ross Harrison bolted in for a touchdown on the first play of the final period.

Moore then got a piece of Lee Price’s punt with six minutes left, giving Midwestern the ball at the ENMU 38. The Indians scored seven plays later on a third-and-2, 20-yard run by Polk after five consecutive carries by Harrison.

The Hounds broke on top with 6:10 left in the opening quarter on a 9-yard run by J.J. Jennings, capping a five-play, 80-yard drive that started with a 51-yard run by quarterback Steven Hinson. Price’s PAT, though, was no good off the upright.

Midwestern tied the game — also missing the PAT off the upright — on Adrion Butler’s 2-yard run with 6:10 left in the half, one play after a 75-yard completion from Bell to Myron Cooper.

The teams then combined for four TDs in the final two minutes of the half. Hinson’s 25-yard run put ENMU up 13-6 with 1:56 to go, but the Indians went 56 yards in five plays and tied it on Bell’s 16-yard pass to Darrius Richard.

The Hounds then failed to cover Kristian Foster’s squib kick, giving MSU the ball at the ENMU 32. The Indians scored four plays later on Harrison’s 7-yard halfback pass to Mark Crowe with 28 seconds remaining.

But Eastern needed just two plays after the kickoff to tie it — a 33-yard completion from Hinson to Derrick Hunter and a 36-yard pass from Hinson to running back Jason Tezeno with 10 seconds left.

Hunter caught nine passes for 121 yards in the game, putting him over 100 receptions and 2,000 yards in his three years at ENMU. With 105 catches for 2,018 yards, he needs 86 yards to tie Steve Jackson (1983-84) for the yardage mark and 21 catches to equal the record held by Robert Griggs (1985-86, 1988-89).

Hinson led Eastern with 88 yards rushing on 10 carries, and needs 113 yards in next week’s finale against Western New Mexico at Greyhound Stadium to become the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Derrick Jackson (1995).

With 11 rushing touchdowns this year, Hinson is three short of the school mark in that category set by Charlie Painter in 1951.