BETHANY, Okla. — Junior running back Brandon Smith capped a 92-yard drive with a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown plunge in the final minute of the half, giving Southern Nazarene the lead for good Saturday night in a storm-delayed 16-9 victory over Eastern New Mexico University in the season opener for both teams.
The game was held up for more than an hour in the third quarter by heavy rains and lightning. When play resumed, the Crimson Storm added an insurance touchdown on a 24-yard pass from senior Larry Dockery to senior wide receiver Jared Elmore for a 16-7 lead.
The Greyhounds got within a touchdown with 7:39 left in the game when a punt snap by Southern Nazarene sailed out of the end zone. But ENMU, implementing a spread offense for the first time, was forced to punt following the free kick, then sophomore Cory Baker’s pass was intercepted by Crimson Storm linebacker Dan Shuff near midfield with 1:27 left.
ENMU mustered 302 yards in the game, including 267 yards passing. Starter Eric Wilcockson went 15-of-31 for 141 yards while Baker was 9-of-16 for 54.
The Hounds garnered their only touchdown midway through the second quarter when wide receiver and former QB Michael Carrasco took a lateral and lofted a 72-yard scoring pass to junior wide receiver Jessie Poku, giving ENMU a 7-3 lead.
A clipping penalty on the ensuing kickoff set Southern Nazarene back to its 8. Dockery completed 5-of-9 passes for 67 yards on the ensuing 12-play drive, finding Rob Underwood for 16 yards to the ENMU 1 in the final minute.
Smith went in on the next play with 26 seconds left for a 10-7 lead at halftime.
ENMU punted on its first two possessions. Southern Nazarene punted on its first attempt, then mounted a seven-play, 61-yard drive ending in Ryan Brock’s 24-yard field goal with 5:30 left in the opening quarter.
The Crimson Storm finished with 348 yards, with Dockery going 20-of-35 for 290. Southern Nazarene limited the Hounds to 35 yards on the ground on 15 attempts.
Defensive leaders for the Hounds were linebacker Texavier Henry with 15 tackles, including four solos, and defensive backs Jeremy Hibbler and Mark Peterson, each with three solos and 14 total stops.