It’s early in the season, especially the conference season, but there have already been a couple of key games that are shaping the race for the conference championship and post season berths. Last week was no exception with 2 games that could have a big impact on the race putting a couple of teams on the inside track and a setting up the losers to need help later in the season if they want to get into the postseason.
Probably the most significant was #12 Midwestern State at Texas A&M Kingsville. Midwestern needed a FG with 18 seconds left in the game to get a come from behind victory. So. RB Vincent Johnson got three 2nd half TD’s to lead the Mustangs back from a 15-3 half time deficit as MSU won their conference opener and improved to 2-0 on the season. Their win moved them up in the DII coaches’ poll to number 11 in the nation and in the D2.com poll to #9. Kingsville was receiving votes in the polls and had a very good chance to challenge MSU & Commerce for the top spot in the conference.
The other game that I think had some bearing on the standings was Tarleton State hosting Angelo State. Both teams are facing what is for them down years but both are still good programs. Either one could get on a roll in the conference and make a run at the top spot or an at large bid in the post season, but they can’t lose games like this or against lesser competition. Tarleton State ran away with this one, 35-5. It was a defensive battle with the teams tied at 3 mid way through the third quarter. TS’s special teams blocked a FG attempt by Angelo State and it was off to the races for Tarleton as they took the momentum all the way to the end of the game.
In other action, #7 Tx A&M Commerce had an easy time defeating Eastern New Mexico, 49-10. The Lions held ENMU to 287 total (only 60 passing yards) while running up 479 yards themselves, 388 through the air. QB Luis Perez threw for 5 TDs on the day without any miscues. The Greyhounds had been averaging 455 yards of offense on the season, leading the NCAA in rushing yards. Not any more. Commerce will now host Kingsville in their first big test of the conference schedule.
The other game, that wasn’t WNMU, saw our opponent this weekend get brought back down to earth as UT Permian Basin fell to West TX A&M 48-14. A&M dominated on both sides of the ball amassing 468 yards of offense while the defense came up with 3 INTs to frustrate the UTPB offense. A&M was paced in the rushing department by SR RB Devon Payne who got 98 yards on just 14 carries. QB Ethan Brinkley connected on 34 of 50 passing attempts for 336 yards and 2 TDs without an interception. While 9 different players caught passes from Brinkley, Jaquarius Daniels was the main target grabbing 9 balls, one for TD.
After the first full week of LSC play, four teams are 1-0 in LSC play: Midwestern State, West Texas, Commerce, and Tarleton State. The 2 NM schools, Western & Eastern sit at 1-1 in conference play with all others winless.
The big games coming up this weekend include TX A&M Commerce hosting TX A&M Kingsville while West TX A&M will host Tarleton State. Other games have WNMU visiting UT Permian Basin; Angelo State hosts Eastern NM; OK Panhandle visits Midwestern State.