By CALEB SLINKARD
Eastern New Mexico (7-3, 5-1 in the LSC) continued its resurgent season by rushing for 276 total yards and holding the ball for more than 40 minutes, defeating Texas A&M University-Commerce (7-4, 2-4) 42-35 in the Lions’ regular season football finale.
The Greyhounds, who clinched a share of the Lone Star Conference championship, started their rushing clinic early, marching down the field on their first possession on an 11-play, 75-yard drive touchdown drive.
Senior wide receiver Tevin Godrey caught two passes, including a 25-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Harrison Stewart that tied the game 7-7. The drive took the Lions only 43 seconds.
A&M-Commerce took advantage of a blocked Eastern punt and capitalized when Stewart hit wide receiver Seth Smith on a 21-yard bomb to the corner of the end zone. A&M-Commerce led 14-7.
Eastern returned to its ground-and-pound with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ate up 4:54 off the clock. Quarterback Jeremy Buurma capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
The Greyhounds maintained momentum when defensive end Bracy McCoy intercepted a tipped Stewart pass. Eastern completed a rare pass when Buurma connected with wide receiver Jacob Johnson for an 18-yard touchdown.
The Lions came right back when Seth Smith caught a ball behind his back with one hand, tiptoed down the sideline, and then cut up field for a 78-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21. Defensive back Marcus Fore forced a fumble in Eastern territory and defensive back Cameron Napoleon recovered to give the Lions great field position. Two plays later, wide receiver Vernon Johnson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass to become the Lions’ all-time single season touchdown leader and put A&M-Commerce up 28-21.
Eastern New Mexico got great field position after A&M-Commerce had to punt out of its own end zone to begin the second half, and wide receiver Aaron Johnson caught a 9-yard pass from Buurma to tie the game.
The Greyhounds scored again when fullback Christian Long took the ball in from six yards out.
Eastern put the game away with a 5:22 minute drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown catch by Johnson to give the Greyhounds the 42-28 lead.
The Lions’ offense showed signs of life when Stewart connected with Smith for a 33-yard touchdown pass to bring A&M-Commerce to within seven. But Stewart threw an interception on a last-second Hail Mary heave as the Greyhounds won.
Stewart finished with 392 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, Smith had 10 catches for 175 yards and three touchdowns, and Johnson finished with eight receptions and 143 yards.
In his last game, senior defensive lineman Tevin Moore had 15 total tackles, four for loss. Junior defensive back Pablo Vasquez had 14 tackles.
Long rushed 32 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Greyhounds.
Johnson had five catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns.