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Buffaloes Come Up Short In Opener At ECU, 13-6

Special to the N.E.T. Sports Gazette

ADA, OK -- The West Texas A&M University football team struggled in its season-opener,falling 13-6, to East Central University Saturday night at ECU's Norris Field in Ada, Okla.

The Buffaloes had several opportunities and scoring chances, but were allthwarted by self-inflicted mistakes, either a dropped pass or a penalty, toend the drive and prevent the offense from reaching the end zone.

WTAMU piled up 329 yards of offense, but couldn't find the end zone. Senior quarterback Derek Maupin was 34-53 for 274 yards, with one interception.

Senior wideout Anthony Armstrong snagged eight passes for 73 yards, while junior wideout Jordan Grant had five catches for 71 yards in his first game in a Buffalo uniform.

ECU, which won its home opener for the first time since 1996, compiled 288 yards of offense, including 111 yards rushing by running back King Bennett, as well as 125 yards passing by quarterback Wilson Pirtle on 11-21 in his ECU debut.

Junior Jacob Felton booted a pair of field goals to provide the WTAMU offense, drilling a 26-yarder in the second quarter to put the Buffaloes on the board, trailing ECU, 7-3. Felton added a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter to pull WTAMU within 10-6.

After a scoreless first quarter, ECU got on the board first, taking overafter a muffed WTAMU punt return at the Buffaloes' 42-yard line. Pirtle punched it in on a 14-yard run, and Greshman added the PAT to put the Tigers ahead 7-0 just four minutes into the second stanza.

WTAMU responded with 13-play, 71-yard drive, that culminated with Felton's first field goal, to make it 7-3 with 6:33 left in the first half, as the drive fizzled at the ECU 9-yard line after back-to-back incomplete passes.

The Buffalo defense forced an ECU punt and the offense drove to the Tigers'33-yard line, where the drive stalled, and Felton attempted a 51-yard field goal that was just short, leaving WTAMU trailing, 7-3, with 1:04 remaining.

That was plenty of time for ECU to put points on the board, as the Tigers drove the to WTAMU 17, and Brad Gresham drilled a 34-yard field goal as the clock turned to zeroes, sending the teams to halftime with ECU leading,

Felton's second field goal capped a drive which began on the ECU 38 after the Buffaloes' coverage team forced ECU return man Trey Owens to cough up the ball and WTAMU recovered.

The Buffaloes stampeded to the Tigers' 14-yard line on three-straight\ running plays from junior running back Dominique Bibben, including a 13-yard burst on the first play of the drive. The stampede was stamped out after a WTAMU penalty on third-and-eight from the 12, forced the Buffaloes back to
the 17 and they couldn't convert, setting up Felton's second kick and bringing WTAMU to within 10-6.

ECU responded with a nine-play, 45-yard drive that was capped by Gresham's second field goal of the game, a 36-yarder that glanced off the upright, to make it 13-6, with 8:09 to play in the third quarter.

The Buffaloes put together a 12-play, 47-yard drive that overlapped the end of the third quarter with the beginning of the fourth quarter, reaching the ECU 26. On fourth-and-seven, WTAMU ran a fake field goal, but Felton was stopped short, turning the ball over on downs.

ECU had a chance to open a bigger lead, but Gresham missed a 30-yard attempt with 5:43 left in the game.

WTAMU couldn't piece together anything, as the Buffaloes were forced to punt after a three-and-out, giving the ball back to ECU with 4:12 remaining on the clock.

The Tigers drove to the Buffaloes' 37-yard line, but WTAMU senior defensive back Terry Roy broke through and sacked Pirtle on a third-down play, to stomp out that threat, and giving the WTAMU offense one last shot.

The Buffaloes took over at the 20-yard line with 1:46 to play after ECU's punt went into the end zone for the touchback, but WTAMU couldn't move the ball, coming up short on a fourth-down play, turning the ball over to ECU with 1:22 left. Pirtle took a knee on three plays to end the game.

The WTAMU defense showed dramatic improvement since last year, as junior defensive end Daryl Lewis led the Buffaloes with 10 tackles, while newcomer fellow junior defensive end Derick Wiley added nine, as well as another newcomer, junior defensive back Marques Kelley also had nine stops.

WTAMU makes its home opener on Patriot Day, Sept. 11, against the 10th-ranked University of Central Oklahoma at 6 p.m. at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium, featuring a special pregame ceremony, as well as post-game fireworks and laser light show to honor Patriot Day.

Special Teams Steals Thunder In Buffaloes' Scrimmage

Special to the N.E.T. Sports Gazette

CANYON, Texas - The special teams unit stole the thunder from the high-octane offense and the revamped defense in West Texas A&M University's two-hour controlled scrimmage Thursday night at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.

Junior Jacob Felton drilled a 55-yard field goal into the wind and senior preseason All-American punter Chad Kennedy boomed a 64-yarder. Sophomore Jason Jones broke loose for a 46-yard punt return.

Felton's kick was shy of the school record of 58 yards, held by Bruce Wyre in 1973.

The Buffaloes' high-octane offense, directed by senior signal-caller Derek Maupin, had several highlights on the evening, including newcomer junior receiver Tonae Martin, who caught a 47-yard pass early in the scrimmage, and senior wideout Anthony Armstrong who had a 30-yard reception, while true freshman Kiel Anderson scampered for a 40+ yard scoring run late in the scrimmage.

The defense tallied several sacks and quarterback hurries, as well as breaking up a handful of passes.

The Buffaloes bring back 20 starters (10 offense, 8 defense, 2 special teams) and 38 letterwinners from last year's 3-8 campaign, entering the season-opener Sept. 4 at East Central University.

WTAMU's home opener is Patriot Day, Sept. 11, as the Buffaloes host the University of Central Oklahoma at 6 p.m. at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium, featuring a special pregame ceremony, as well as post-game fireworks and laser light show to honor Patriot Day.

Sunday Sept. 5, 2004

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