By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
After coming up short last week in their bid for a piece of the Lone Star Conference North Division title, the task this week for Eastern New Mexico University’s football team is to get its emotional edge back.
The Greyhounds visit Tarleton State for an 11 a.m. (MST) kickoff today, one of seven crossover games that will bring the LSC’s regular season to an end.
In a matter of moments last Saturday at Northeastern State, the Hounds went from thinking they’d posted a come-from-behind win, to needing a field goal to keep the game alive, then kicking another one in overtime to take the lead only to have the RiverHawks score on their first play following a 5-yard illegal procedure penalty to win 43-40.
“In a span of five minutes I went from feeling as good as I’ve ever felt to feeling as rotten as I’ve ever felt,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo, not happy with an illegal formation penalty that nullified an apparent go-ahead touchdown.
He said he had to put aside his feelings for a time to try to pick up the spirits of some disappointed players.
“I couldn’t have asked any more of that team,” he said. “It was our longest road trip, and our best game on the road this year.”
ENMU, still looking for its first road win (0-4), faces a Tarleton team that, at 3-7, is having a rare losing season under first-year coach Cary Fowler.
The Texans have been a bit of an enigma. Two of their wins are by three points late in the game, but they’ve also pushed nationally-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville (13-10) and Midwestern State (31-26) hard before losing.
“We’ve had major injuries across the board,” said Fowler, who was the Texans’ defensive coordinator the previous two years. “We’ve had to ‘un-redshirt’ some kids to play, but I’ve seen our kids get better week to week.”
Fowler said the Texans have lost 18 players for the season to injury.
ENMU junior linebacker Perron Sellers, the LSC North’s defensive player of the week for his play at Northeastern, said he expects the Hounds to be all right.
“We know how to react after a loss, trust me,” he said. “You go on to the next game and play like (the previous) game never happened.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to forget it and move on. I know we’re going to do that against Tarleton.”
Fowler admits preparing for the Hounds’ hurry-up, no-huddle offense can be tough.
“Everything Mark does is designed to give (ENMU) a chance to win every Saturday,” he said. “The things you have to prepare for make it difficult.”