COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: UTPB looking ahead after historic victory

UTPB made history by knocking off a team ranked in the top-25 for the first time in the football program’s eight-year history.

The Falcons, however, don’t have time to celebrate as head coach Kris McCullough was already thinking about this week after Saturday’s 29-17 win over No. 16 Texas A&M-Kingsville at Ratliff Stadium.

It says a lot about how far the program and the mindset have come since 2016.

The Falcons moved to 4-1, 2-0 with last week’s victory while the Javelinas fell to 3-1, 1-1.

“Obviously, it was a great weekend for UTPB football,” McCullough said at this week’s press conference. “It’s the first top 25 win in program history. We played well on all three phases but when we turned on the tape and analyzed everything, we really didn’t play a great game on any phase. I think on offense, we left about 15 points on the field. … We got in a little bit of a groove but penalties hurt us. Missed assignments hurt us early on. … As the game went on, we figured it out on defense and our defense started playing lights out.”

UTPB had nine penalties for 65 yards while Texas A&M-Kingsville was penalized three times for only 10 yards.

UTPB will now face Midwestern State (2-2, 1-1) in a 6 p.m. contest Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls.

While the Mustangs struggled last year-going 6-5, 5-4 in 2022-and has struggled out of the gate this season with losses to Colorado State-Pueblo and West Texas A&M, Midwestern State has a long history of dominating the Lone Star Conference and making the NCAA Division II playoffs.

The team won the Lone Star Conference title in 2021 but was not selected for the playoffs that year.

“Now, we’re facing a traditional team,” McCullough said. “They’re a team that has been known every single year to win. I think they’ve had one losing season in 22 years. No matter what their record is, they’re a good football team and they’re going to be well-coached so their bodies are going to be more fresh.”

Midwestern State is coached by Bill Maskill who is currently in his 22nd season with the program.

Just like with Texas A&M-Kingsville before last week’s game against UTPB, the Mustangs are coming off a bye-week before facing the Falcons.

“They’ve had two weeks to prepare for us,” McCullough said. “This week is not easy. It’s just like we’re playing Kingsville or Angelo State. This is a team that we have to be ready to play and it’s at their place. It’s going to be a tough game.”

For the record, McCullough isn’t a fan of bye weeks.

“I don’t like bye weeks, personally, as a head coach,” McCullough said. “I want to play each and every week and stay in a rhythm. … I personally think having a bye week hurts you in the first quarter of a game the next week.”

Fortunately, the Falcons don’t have a bye week on their calendar this season.

>> DOG FIGHT: UTPB has won games by over 80 points this season and then they’ve won close games with a lower scoring offense.

“You don’t know what you’re going to get,” McCullough said. “You may score 80. You may score 90. You may get in a dog fight like we did against Kingsville where it’s a slug fest on defense where both sides just battle it out and it’s whatever offense makes plays. We’ve proven that we can do everything we can on how to win a game. our team knows how to win a game. but we have to make sure that we don’t lose a game, based on what we do.”

>> SMALLER COMEBACK: UTPB may have gotten behind early in the game against Texas A&M-Kingsville but it wasn’t a 17-3 deficit like the Falcons faced against West Texas A&M or a 21-6 deficit they had against Western Colorado.

The Javelinas struck first against the Falcons when Christian Anderson scored on an 11-yard touchdown run to help give the visitors a 7-0 lead with 12:51 left in the first quarter.

It was the only time UTPB would trail as the Falcons responded with a Nemier Herod 3-yard touchdown run and a Rafael Vargas’ 36-yard field goal in the second quarter put the Falcons ahead for good.

“Our guys are resilient,” McCullough said. “They never look at the scoreboard, no matter what the score is. They just keep fighting. (Texas A&M-Kingsville) being up 7-0 early was nothing. We responded on the next drive. … No matter what the score is, we have a shot as long as we have Kenny Hrncir at quarterback and as long as we have defensive players staying healthy. We have playmakers all around the field so it doesn’t matter what the score is. We’re going to find a way to climb back into the game.”

>> AROUND THE CONFERENCE: Angelo State (3-2, 2-1) defeated Eastern New Mexico 23-14 in Portales, N.M. Eastern New Mexico now sits at 3-2, 1-2.

Western Oregon fought back to defeat West Texas A&M 37-36 at Buffalo Stadium in Canyon. Western Oregon is now 2-3, 1-2 while the Buffaloes fell to 2-3, 1-2.

Central Washington moved to 3-2, 3-0 with a 55-17 win over Western New Mexico (1-4, 0-3)

UTPB and Central Washington are the only two teams who haven’t lost in conference play.