By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Abilene Christian football coach Gary Gaines figured his team was about due against Tarleton State.
After all, the Wildcats had lost six in a row against the Texans going into last week’s matchup in Stephenville, Texas, including all four since Gaines had been at the school.
But ACU ended the streak with authority, routing the then-No. 7 Texans 31-14 that wasn’t even that close. ACU led 31-0 at halftime, and Tarleton didn’t score until the final quarter.
This week, Eastern New Mexico University hopes it can reverse a similar trend against ACU when the teams meet in their Lone Star Conference South Division opener at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Blackwater Draw.
The Greyhounds (1-3) have lost their last five games against the Wildcats, including three times when they came in with a 4-0 record.
ENMU coach Bud Elliott said the Hounds, who lost 33-14 at East Central last week, shouldn’t be overmatched against ACU.
“We can play with them, but we’re going to have to play better than we did (at ECU),” Elliott said. “We’re going to have to be patient and execute.”
Gaines said the Wildcats (2-1) benefitted from a injuries to a couple of key Tarleton players, but added that his team played well.
“Our defense really carried us in that game,” Gaines said. “We got some turnovers and we ran a punt back (73 yards for a touchdown by Danieal Manning).
“It was good to beat them. We hadn’t done that since I’d been here.”
Gaines realizes his team has gotten the better of ENMU lately and he worries that the Hounds might be due this time.
“The roles are kind of reversed,” he said. “They’re a much better team than they’ve shown so far.”
Elliott said the Hounds are battling injuries. Senior guard Joe Lewis, who went in as a starter for the injured Robert Acuna last week, suffered a concussion at East Central and won’t play.
Redshirt freshman Kevin Parker will get the start, Elliott said.
Senior defensive end Brandon Wickware, who had been nursing a deep thigh bruise, now has a knee problem and probably won’t play Saturday. He’ll be replaced by another redshirt freshman, Reggie Ellis.
Abilene Christian (2-1, 0-0 Lone Star Conference South) at ENMU (1-3, 0-0)
Time: 6 p.m.
Where: Blackwater Draw
Last meeting: 2003, the Wildcats beat the Greyhounds 24-14 in Abilene, Texas, their fifth consecutive win over ENMU.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3