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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Big second half lifts UTPB past Eastern New Mexico - Odessa American: Sports

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Big second half lifts UTPB past Eastern New Mexico

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Posted: Sunday, November 3, 2019 12:33 am

It was a victory that the UTPB football program needed, a signature win against an opponent that had garnered national attention.

The Falcons had yet to record such a victory in the three-plus seasons of the program’s existence and after 24 minutes against Eastern New Mexico University, it seemingly was more of the same as UTPB trailed heading into the locker room for halftime.

Everything changed in the span of 26 seconds in the third quarter.

Falcons quarterback Clayton Roberts connected with wide receiver Kyle McBride on a 16-yard touchdown pass and then, after the visiting Mustangs fumbled on the first play of the ensuing drive, Clayton found McBride for a 47-yard score to tie the game with 11:17 to play in the third quarter.

Those back-to-back scoring strikes and a solid effort from running back Davion Sutton and Marquis Simmons proved to be the spark UTPB need as it took control and then held on for a 48-38 victory in Lone Star Conference play Saturday at Ratliff Stadium.

The victory improved the Falcons to 3-6 on the season, snapping a six-game losing streak and marking the first time the program has won more than two games in a season.

“There’s no doubt that’s our biggest win,” UTPB head coach Justin Carrigan said. “In the past couple years, we’ve played very well in the second half against them; defensively we just need to try and settle in sooner in the first half.

“I thought our guys came out and responded really well to begin the second half and get us back in the game. I thought we ran the ball really well and had some opportunities to hit some deep balls and Clayton did a really good job and, obviously, Kyle is an explosive guy.”

Roberts finished 11-of-20 passing for 182 yards and the two touchdowns, while Sutton had 118 yards rushing on 17 carries, with a 5-yard touchdown and Simmons added 78 yards on nine carries, with a 31-yard touchdown run with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter that gave the Falcons the lead for good.

McBride caught two passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow wide receiver Jeremiah Cooley led the Falcons (3-6 overall, 1-5 conference) with 100 yards on five catches, including a 10-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Kameron Mathis that Cooley snared one-handed in the back right corner of the end zone with 7:27 to play in the game.

The Falcons' defense also played a huge part in the victory, forcing three turnovers, with defensive back Donta Stuart returning an interception 65 yards for a touchdown with 3:54 to play to ice the victory.

“Donta did a great job on that play,” UTPB co-defensive coordinator Jacob Martin said. “He recognized that it was the same play they had scored on earlier and he jumped the route and intercepted the pass and scored. That’s just a great effort by him knowing what they were going to do and making a play.”

Eastern New Mexico (5-4, 3-4) was led by running back Paul Terry, who rushed for 158 yards on 24 carries, with one touchdown. Quarterback Wyatt Strand was 12-of-18 passing for 190 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Wide receiver Justin Manyweather caught two passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yard score with 3:41 to play to cap the scoring.

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide

Odessa, TX

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