Abilene Christian tops Hounds

CNJ staff

ABILENE, Texas — Even in some seasons when it was struggling, Abilene Christian has been a thorn in Eastern New Mexico University’s side over the years.

In 2007, though, the 17th-ranked Wildcats are for real. They proved it on Saturday night by piling up 551 total yards in rolling to a 45-20 Lone Star Conference South Division victory over the previously unbeaten Greyhounds.

Abilene Christian has gone 9-2 all-time against ENMU when the Hounds entered the game undefeated, including the last six such occasions.

Junior quarterback Billy Malone threw for 272 yards and four touchdowns for the Wildcats (4-1, 1-0 South), who came in ranked 13th in NCAA Division II in total offense. Junior running back Bernard Scott led a ground attack that piled up 281 yards with 184 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

ENMU senior quarterback Michael Benton finished with 149 yards and two touchdowns, but the Hounds (4-1, 0-1) fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter and were blown out when the Wildcats scored four unanswered touchdowns from late in the second quarter until early in the fourth.

ENMU finished with 344 yards rushing, averaging more than five yards an attempt.

Malone hit wide receiver Johnny Knox on a 10-yard TD pass just over four minutes into the game. Matt Adams made it 10-0 with a 21-yard field goal late in the quarter.

Benton capped an eight-play, 73-yard ENMU drive with a 7-yard TD run early in the second stanza, but the Wildcats countered following the kickoff with a 74-yard drive ending in Malone’s 6-yard TD pass to Chris Conklin.

Sophomore linebacker Brandon Haug pulled the Hounds to 17-14 when he intercepted Malone and returned it 41 yards for a score with just over five minutes left in the half. Abilene Christian then went 72 yards in just four plays, with Taber Minner’s 8-yard run extending the margin to 24-14 at halftime.

Malone hit Knox on a 6-yard TD pass and Scott went over on a 1-yard run in the third quarter. Malone then made it 45-14 with a 13-yard pass to Kebron Lampkin with 10:53 left in the game.

Benton’s second TD run, a 4-yarder, capped the scoring with six minutes left.

Benton, averaging just under 190 yards coming in, was held to a season-low in rushing. Freshman fullback Jordan Myers added 80 yards rushing on eight carries for ENMU, while sophomore quarterback J.T. Thompson gained 72 yards on only six totes.

Junior linebacker Jeremy Hibbler led the Hounds on defense with 11 tackles, the second time this season he’s reached double figures.