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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UTPB looks to build off historic win in final road game - Odessa American: Sports

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UTPB looks to build off historic win in final road game

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Posted: Saturday, November 9, 2019 1:01 am

The UTPB coaching staff enjoyed the aftermath of Saturday’s victory against Eastern New Mexico for almost 24 hours.

Then, it was back to work.

Each week, head coach Justin Carrigan and his staff meets on Sunday evenings to begin putting together a game plan for the upcoming opponent.

Normally, the transition doesn’t take too long as many of the teams are playing similar style offenses and it’s just a matter of finding the right matchups defensively in order to be successful.

This week, however, the Falcons’ staff and players are coming off a contest in which Eastern New Mexico ran an option-based scheme, which forced UTPB to play assignment football and make the right read in order to keep the Greyhounds in check.

“These kinds of games are fun to play,” co-defensive coordinator Chris Mineo said. “Just line up, make your read and handle your assignment.”

The Falcons struggled in the first half against the Greyounds, falling behind by two scores heading into the locker room.

That break gave everyone a chance to step back, evaluate the first half and realize that UTPB was very much still in the game.

So what changed that allowed the Falcons to dominate the second half?

UTPB scored 41 points after halftime with Kyle McBride catching a pair of touchdown passes, Jeremiah Cooley making a highlight-reel catch for another score, running backs Marquis Simmons and Davion Sutton each finding the end zone and, to cap it off, defensive back Donta Stuart returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.

All that added up to a 48-38 victory, a milestone win in that it was the Falcons’ third of the season, the first time in the program’s four-year history that the team has won three times in a season.

Senior linebacker Keegan Gray summed up the final 30 minutes.

“We played all three phases of the game, great,” said Gray, who missed the two previous games with a knee injury.

“The offense showed up, we forced turnovers on defense and we took advantage of every opportunity that we were given and that’s something that we’ve all been waiting to see happen since the first two games; it’s pretty special when it happens.”

The Falcons snapped a six-game losing streak with the victory and now can look forward to facing a “normal” offense when they travel to face Texas A&M-Commerce at 4 p.m. today at Memorial Stadium in Commerce.

>> LEADING THE PACK: UTPB senior linebacker Chris Hoad reached a milestone with less than two minutes remaining to play Saturday against Eastern New Mexico, recording the 500th tackle of his career.

Hoad currently leads the nation with 131 tackles through nine games and just two week ago had 24 tackles in a loss to Chadron State (Neb.).

Though the numbers seem gaudy, Carrigan is 100-percent convinced it’s due to all the off-the-field work that Hoad does each week.

“Chris is always watching video, charting plays, finding out everything he can about the opponents,” Carrigan said. “Or he’s in the weight room or doing yoga or whatever he needs to get his body ready as well.

“He’s so prepared that he knows where everyone is supposed to be on each play and he’s able to understand, while the play is going on, who is out of position and fixes that while the play is going on.”

>> THE REST OF THE CONFERENCE: The penultimate weekend of play finds No. 3 Tarleton State (9-0 overall) taking a break from Lone Star Conference action when it faces William Jewell College at 1 p.m. today in Liberty, Missouri.

Western New Mexico (6-3 overall, 3-3 conference) has longest trip of the weekend (737 miles) as it travels to Wichita Falls to face Midwestern State (4-5, 2-4) at 1 p.m.

West Texas A&M (6-3, 3-3) also is going to be inside a bus for quite some time as the Buffs travel 657 miles south to face Texas A&M-Kingsville (2-7, 1-5) at 3 p.m. at Javelina Stadium.

Angelo State (8-1, 5-1) has a short trip to Eastern New Mexico (5-4, 3-4)) for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Portales, N.M.

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide

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