Hounds struggle at Southwestern

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo didn’t offer a complicated explanation for the Greyhounds’ surprising 21-10 Lone Star Conference North Division loss to Southwestern Oklahoma on Saturday at Weatherford, Okla.

The Bulldogs (1-4, 1-1 North) simply outplayed ENMU, reducing the Hounds’ potent attack to one-dimensional and putting together just enough offense of their own.

“We couldn’t run the ball and our defense couldn’t stop the run,” Ribaudo said Monday. “In football, (those are) the critical areas. You can get away occasionally with not doing one well, but when you don’t do either well you’re not going to beat anybody.”

Despite that, Ribaudo said it wasn’t until the final three minutes or so that he’d resigned himself to defeat against a team that had one only one game since the start of the 2009 season.

“We created four turnovers, we blocked a field goal, we pinned them inside the 20 twice,” he said. “We had every opportunity to win that game, and they gave us opportunities. We just didn’t pull the trigger.

“You’ve got to play with your ‘A’ game every game in this conference.”

The Hounds struggled on defense and special teams as well, Ribaudo said.

“The defense held them to 21 points, and under normal circumstances that should be OK,” he said. “Playing as poorly as we did, we were still in the game the whole time.”

Injury front: Ribaudo said wide receiver Jessie Poku (neck), junior guard Evan Fraley (broken leg) and senior linebacker Devin Sweet (toe) sustained injuries during the contest. He said Poku, second in the LSC this season with 40 catches, is doubtful for Saturday’s 2 p.m. division clash against Central Oklahoma at Blackwater Draw, while Fraley is out for the season and Sweet, a Clovis High grad, will likely sit at least this week.

ENMU had some key players out before Saturday’s game, including wide receiver Nicholas Hill, defensive end Joe Henry and running back Melvis Hawkins.

“When your backups don’t play well and they’re (already) playing specials (special teams), your depth starts getting whittled away,” Ribaudo said.

Around the division: So far, no one has more than one win in the North, so the Hounds (2-3, 1-1) are still in position to control their own destiny. In fact, no one in the division has a winning overall record.

Central Oklahoma (2-3, 1-0), which survived a scare at home on Saturday to edge East Central 31-28, is tied with Northeastern State at the top, while everybody else is 1-1 except Southeastern Oklahoma (1-4, 0-2).