By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
WITH CORNERBACKS MARK Patterson (groin) and Michael Fields (ankle and knee) unable to play due to injury, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo had to resort to desperate measures in last weekend’s Lone Star Conference South Division game at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
First, he moved outside linebacker Brandon Harper to the position. When he decided to put Harper back at linebacker, All-LSC South receiver Derrick Hunter stepped in.
Hunter, a wide receiver and safety in high school at Lamesa, Texas, hadn’t played defense since high school, although he said he was originally recruited as a safety.
He began working at corner last week with the questionable status of Patterson and Fields.
“It was fun,” said the 6-foot, 180-pound Hunter. “They just kind of threw me in there to see what I could do. I just went out and tried to let my ability take over.”
Hunter, who saw limited duty on offense and did not return kicks in the 26-14 loss to the Javelinas, was in on three tackles (two solos) and had a fumble recovery. His only catch of the night — a touchdown reception late in the game described by ENMU observers as “spectacular” — was nullified by a holding penalty.
This season, Hunter has already set school marks for career yardage and career touchdown catches. With 124 receptions in his four seasons at the school, he is two shy of that record as well.
Ribaudo hinted that, partially depending on the status of the two injured corners, Hunter could start both ways in Saturday’s 6 p.m. clash against Midwestern State at Blackwater Draw.
Hunter said he would welcome the challenge.
“I’ll be ready,” he said. “We’ll just see how it goes. I wouldn’t mind going both ways.”
ANGELO STATE RAN UP 748 total yards — 396 passing, 352 rushing — in its 58-53 win at West Texas A&M on Saturday. The Buffaloes finished with 590 yards, giving the teams a combined 1,338.
There were 10 lead changes — four in the final seven minutes. Quarterbacks Trey Weishuhn of Angelo and Dalton Bell of WT threw for 11 touchdowns and more than 900 yards, including a school record and LSC-record-tying six TDs by Weishuhn.
“Angelo’s a good football team, but if you’d told me they were going to put 750 yards up against WT, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Ribaudo, whose team handed the Rams their only loss (38-14) at Blackwater Draw earlier this month.
The Rams and Buffs are both 8-1 overall, 6-1 in the South. The crowd of 17,127 at WT’s Kimbrough Stadium was its third of more than 14,000 this season.
THE LOSS DROPPED WT from second to fourth in the Southwest Region rankings, while Angelo vaulted from ninth to third. Kingsville’s win over ENMU lifted the Javelinas from 10th to eighth.
The top six in the final regional rankings advance to the NCAA Division II playoffs.