By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico University senior nose guard Ronald Green says he enjoys a challenge, and he’ll get one in Abilene Christian running back Bernard Scott when the teams open Lone Star Conference South Division play today at Blackwater Draw.
The Wildcats (3-0), No. 4 in NCAA Division II, feature a potent offense ranked second in the nation in total yards (552.3 per game) and third in scoring (49.3).
The attack is led by Scott, a senior averaging 153 rushing yards and more than 200 all-purpose yards per game. The key to stopping him, Green said, is simply to wrap him up.
“I don’t take anythng away from him,” said the 6-foot-1, 315-pound transfer from Division I-AA Mississippi Valley State. “Any great running back, if you do not tackle, is going to rip you for 200, 300 yards. How you stop a great back is you tackle him.”
The game appears to be a significant challenge for the Greyhounds (1-3). ENMU lost its last two outings, both on the road, against Southeastern Oklahoma (29-14) and Texas A&M-Commerce (38-14), while the Wildcats thumped those same teams in their last two contests.
“Right now our season isn’t looking too good, but we control our own destiny,” Green said.
Green, a three-time All-Southwestern Athletic Conference performer at Mississippi Valley, is looking forward to games against ACU, West Texas A&M and Midwestern State, all at home, and at Tarleton State. All are ranked in the top 25 in NCAA Division II.
“My goal is to lead the conference in sacks and in tackles for loss,” said Green, who has two tackles for loss so far this season. “My goal is to have the opportunity to get to an NFL workout and try to play in the pros.”
Abilene Christian struggled through much of the early part of this decade, but has improved dramatically under ACU alum Chris Thomsen, who has a 25-12 record in three-plus seasons at the helm. Thomsen played tight end at the school and served as an assistant coach from 1994-2000.
“Chris has done a great job,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said. “Chris and I go way bad. I think he’s done one of the best jobs in the conference.”
The Wildcats have multiple weapons on offense. Senior quarterback Billy Malone is completing 71 percent of his passes, with nine touchdowns and three interceptions, giving ACU a good mix between run and pass.
The defense, meantime, has made solid strides. Since falling behind 21-7 at the quarter in its opener, a 44-27 win at then-No. 3 Northwest Missouri State, the Wildcats have allowed 30 points over the last 11 quarters.
Ribaudo said the Hounds are simply going to do the best they can.
“We just take it one game at a time,” he said. “We wouldn’t prepare any differently if they were 0-4.
“You just have to prepare the best you can and let the game unfold.”