By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
FORMER EASTERN NEW MEXICO University football coach Bud Elliott, hospitalized after suffering a broken left leg and a collapsed lung in a fall at his home earlier this month, is beginning to make progress, wife Kathy said Wednesday.
The 73-year-old Elliott went from Lubbock Heart Hospital to Plains Regional Medical Center a couple of weeks ago. He is now beginning rehabilitation at Retirement Ranch. Kathy Elliott said she hopes he will be up to attending homecoming festivities at ENMU this weekend.
She said he will be unable to put any weight on his broken leg for a couple of weeks, and is expected to be at Retirement Ranch 3-4 weeks. “It depends on how well he does,” she said.
“Considering that three weeks ago he was (in danger of) dying, we’re really happy for the progress he’s made,” she said.
ZACH GERLEVE HAD A simple explanation for ENMU’s 33-30 Lone Star Conference South Division victory on Saturday at Abilene Christian.
“I think we stuck in there good as a team,” said Gerleve, a redshirt sophomore running back from Hot Springs High School in Truth or Consequences.
Despite the up-and-down nature of the contest, Gerleve said the players never felt any sense of panic.
“I think everyone was pretty confident the whole game,” he said. “Everybody was picking each other up.”
ENMU’S SPECIAL TEAMS TURNED the tables on Abilene Christian, which had dominated that phase during its first three games this season. Wildcats junior Danieal Manning had a touchdown return in each of the previous two games.
“We knew they were getting a lot of points off their specials, and they were feeding off Manning’s returns,” ENMU special teams coach Michael Walton said.
SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK MICHAEL Benton posted his fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 106 yards on 24 carries.
ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said he isn’t that concerned about possible wear-and-tear on the 5-foot-11, 192-pound Benton, who is averaging just over 20 carries and 109 yards rushing per game, nor the fact that the passing game has been a bit inconsistent.
“If we start throwing the ball (more), we’re not going to be as physical or control the clock,” Ribaudo said. “We’d like to get the ball to (All-LSC South wide receiver) Derrick (Hunter) more, and we’re exploring ways to do that. But I think our offense is doing a great job. They’re helping our team win.”
WITH SENIOR COREY WHITE hobbled by a nagging ankle injury, freshman Mark Patterson saw extensive action at cornerback after halftime. Patterson also helped corral Manning for a third-quarter safety on a muffed punt return.
Ribaudo said White’s status for Saturday’s 6 p.m. homecoming game against unbeaten Angelo State is up in the air.
LSC quick hits — The Don Carthel-tutored West Texas A&M Buffaloes forced six turnovers to shock third-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville 28-20 on Saturday in front of 14,095 fans at Kimbrough Stadium in Canyon. WT is off to a 5-0 start. … It was the Javelinas’ first LSC road loss since a 37-34 setback to ENMU at Blackwater Draw on Nov. 2, 2002. … WT, which moved into the NCAA Division II rankings this week at No. 22, has already matched its win total for the previous three years under Ronnie Jones (5-27). … Kingsville, now 18th in the poll, hosts the league’s other ranked team, No. 18 Tarleton State, on Saturday in a battle of the LSC’s winningest programs over the past six years.