Turnovers Cost Greyhounds Game

Greyhounds come up short.

By J.T. Keith – Sports Content Manager

Starting quarterback Wes Wood had an off game throwing three interceptions, along with being sacked three times. Wood completed 31-of 51 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 54 yards. In a game that saw an offensive shootout, ENMU had 447 yards in total offense; ENMU had a chance to tie the game with no time left on the clock.  ENMU suffered their third loss of the season, losing to Tarleton State University, 34-28 for a Lone Star Conference loss. ENMU’s, record on the season falls to (1-3, 0-2 in LCS).

Eastern started the game with a Wes Wood 39 yard touchdown run, with 11:00 minutes left in the first quarter, Michael Cottingham added the extra point to put the Hounds on top 7-0.

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Tarleton came back with a 25 yard pass from Nick Stephens to Roddy Green, as Jerry Owens added the extra point, with 7:33 left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing series Wes Wood threw a bullet to Nick Hill, for a 11 yard gain, Hill was hit  with such force that he fumbled the football and Desmond Jackson returned the ball for a 44 yard  touchdown giving Tarleton a 14-7 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter.

With 4:58 left in the first quarter and driving, quarterback Wes Wood threw an interception to Dashaun Phillips. With 2:52 in the first quarter with the ball at the 50 yard line, Coach Ribaudo decided to go for the first down,  4th and 5, Wood threw a slant pass on the line to Chase Keyser who was hit right at the yard marker as the referees said Keyser was inches short turning the ball over on downs. First Quarter ends with Tarleton leading 14-7.

Starting the second quarter with 14:03 Wood throws an interception to Terrence Henry. ENMU defense held, with 9:38 left in the second quarter Woods throws a 21 yard pass to wide receiver Michael Matthews. Placekicker Micheal Cottingham kicks the extra point to even the score at 14-14.

Both teams played even until 3:55 left in the second quarter. Tarleton quarterback Nick Stephens threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to receiver Arthur Buckingham with placekicker Jerry Owens adding the extra point to give Tarleton a 21-14 lead. ENMU attempted a 20 yard field goal with 14.4 seconds left in the first half; the kick was blocked by Desmond Jackson.

Both teams ended the first half with defensive stops going into halftime with Tarleton up 21-14.

Third quarter neither team scored until 8:13 left as wide out Le Thaddeus Hill scored on a 15 yard pass from Quarterback Nick Stephens as Jerry Owens added the extra point to make the score 28-14.

With 4:07 left in the third quarter Tarleton placekicker Jerry Owens kicked a 48 yard field goal to give Tarleton a 31-14 lead.

After the score Tarleton caught ENMU’s kickoff team napping. Tarleton attempted an onside kick that was recovered by their kicker Jerry Owens. Tarleton was sky high. Moving the ball and looking to score again, hard hitting defensive back Nick Jones intercepted a pass from quarterback Nick Stephens and returned the ball a few yards before pitching the ball back to Perron Sellers who returned the ball to the 5 yard line.

Wood took no time in connecting with senior Darian Dale for a five yard touchdown, to make the score 31-21 with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.

Tarleton begins the fourth quarter with 14:52 left as place kicker Jerry Owens kicked a 39 yard field goal to give Tarleton a 34-21 lead. On the next possession ENMU comes back to Tarleton’s 3 yard line for first and goal. Tarleton’s defense held,  keeping ENMU out of the end zone.

As the game wound down with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter Wood throws an interception, on a pass picked off by DaShaun Phillips, the pass was intended for Arvin Jackson.

ENMU’s defense forced Tarleton to punt the ball. Tarleton lined up to punt the ball, as the ball was snapped all of ENMU defenders turned their back to the ball believing  it was kicked, only safety Jayson Serda saved the day, coming up from his punt return position, to make the tackle to save a touchdown. With 3:43 left in the game Tarleton continued to throw the ball, Serda intercepted the pass nearly returning it for a touchdown  a shoe string tackle saved a touchdown.

Coach Ribaudo, made a dramatic switch in bringing in backup quarterback Sawyer Cornelius who promptly lead ENMU down the field to a score, throwing a strike to Seth Bailey with 1:12 left in the game, to make the score 34-28.

ENMU confused Tarleton with a trick kick from Tyler Cannon as ENMU recovered the onside kick as Darian Dale recovers the ball at 42 yard line. Cornelius threw for two first downs. With 6 seconds left and little hope Cornelius heaves a Hail Mary to Darian Dale who gets both hands on the ball in the end zone before defenders come in to knock it loose.

Tarleton Head Coach Carey Fowler says the reason for the fake punt was, “It was the way they lined up, I had seen it a couple of times they were getting a lot of pressure on our kicker. I just knew if we got the block from the running back and we did, we would be able to run for the first down. I was afraid of a blocked punt would give them more momentum. As far as the onside kick, that portion of the game the winds had picked up and the winds were so hard. I wanted to try to get one more score as long as we had the wind. At some point we have to give these kids a chance to win.”

Coach Ribaudo after the game said, “I am heartbroken, I feel terrible for the kids, they came fighting back as good as any team I have been around in 27 years of coaching, our team never gave up. I told them all week to be in the fight to the end of the fight and in the last round to give ourselves a chance to win, that’s exactly what they did. Brutal honesty is that we made too many mistakes to win a game.”

“I wanted to switch quarterbacks to get some new mojo going, our offense sputtered a little in the fourth quarter, so I wanted to make the switch. A lot of times teams back off with 2 minutes left in the game, a lot of teams will give you an opportunity to throw the ball. Our center is banged up, our best back Tony Valenzuela is banged up. Perron Sellers is our All Conference middle linebacker has a concussion so I am a little worried about that next week we have Angelo State there at 5:00 p.m. and they are 3-0, right now.”

Eastern returns home for Homecoming Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.

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