SAN ANTONIO — Freshman running back Junior Sessions’ second touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal with 3:17 left, proved to be the difference on Saturday night as Incarnate Word held off Eastern New Mexico University 33-26.
The Cardinals (3-2), transitioning from the Division II Lone Star Conference to the FCS Southland Conference, built a 26-7 lead in the second quarter with the help of an 89-yard run by Sessions and a 90-yard pass from freshman quarterback Trent Brittain to sophomore wide receiver Clint Killough, both in the second quarter.
ENMU junior Kevin Reaves then blocked the Cardinals’ PAT kick and sophomore David Strickland returned it for a 2-point defensive conversion, making it 26-9 at halftime.
The start of the game was delayed 26 minutes due to lightning, and the game was stopped again in the second period for the same reason, lasting 35 minutes. The teams attempted to beat any further weather problems with an abbreviated halftime.
ENMU (1-2) bounced back in the second half, pulling to 26-23 on 1-yard runs by junior Vaughn Johnson in the third quarter and by senior Christian Long early in the fourth. Sessions’ second TD run, capping a short drive after the Cardinals got the ball when a punt bounced off an ENMU player, opened a 10-pointy lead.
ENMU pulled to within a score on a 48-yard field goal by freshman Mitchell Cox with 3:17 left, then recovered two onside kicks only to have them nullified by offsides penalties.
UIW then turned the ball over on downs at the Hounds’ 31, and Buurma hit junior Jacob Johnson for a 35-yard gain to the UIW 45. The Cardinals then stopped ENMU on downs and ran out the clock.
ENMU dominated the game statistically after halftime and finished with a 423-373 edge in total yardage. Junior Jordan Wells rushed for 90 yards for the Hounds while Jacob Johnson caught three passes for 75 yards.
Sessions finished with 144 yards on 14 carries for Incarnate Word
Junior linebacker Seth Bailey of Texico was in on 10 tackles (four solos) for ENMU to match UIW safety Devin Haywood for game honors in that category.
The win was the second in four all-time meetings for UIW against the Hounds. ENMU won last year 34-24 in the LSC’s Football Festival at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
ENMU, which hasn’t played at home since its season opener, will entertain Tarleton State at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the LSC opener for both squads.