COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UTPB comes up short in season finale

WICHITA FALLS The Midwestern State University defense held when it needed to and the Mustangs were able to fend off UTPB, 36-30, in a Lone Star Conference football game Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The Falcons (5-5 overall, 3-4 in conference) had a first-and-goal at the Midwestern State 9 in the final minute of the game, but were unable to get the ball into the end zone to complete the comeback.

It was the final game of the regular season for both teams.

UTPB quarterback Suddin Sapien was 18-of-34 passing for 263 yards and two touchdowns, but also had four interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Jordan Smart was the top target for the Falcons with eight receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns. MJ Link caught three passes for 38 yards and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Smart in the first half.

UTPB running back Kevin Young Jr. finished with 106 yards on 20 carries, with one score.

The Mustangs (7-3, 6-1) clinched the conference title with the victory.

Running back Jalen March carried the ball 21 times for 158 yards and one score to pass the offense. Midwestern State rushed 42 times for 225 yards, while quarterback Nieko Hollins was 15-of-31 passing for 165 yards and one touchdown.

Mustangs’ place kicker Ritse Vaes was 4 of 5 on field goals in the game, all in the first half.

Young put the Falcons on the scoreboard just 53 seconds into the game when he scored on a 32-yard run up the middle for a 7-0 lead.

Just over three minutes later, Sapien connected with Smart on a 69-yard scoring play for a 14-0 lead that had the Mustangs on their heels just 4:55 into the contests.

They didn’t stay there for long, however, scoring the next 13 points to pull within one before Link and Smart connected to push the Falcons’ lead back to eight (21-13) with 6:52 remaining in the first half.

Vaes converted a pair of field goals before the end of the first half to cut the deficit to two.

Midwestern State then outscored UTPB 17-0 in the third quarter to take control.