West Texas A&M head coach Hunter Hughes is all smiles after the Buffs roll Azusa Pacific 35-16 on Saturday night. [Mackenie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]
West Texas A&M couldn’t have asked for a better christening to open its brand new state of the art J Ferg Field at Buffalo Stadium Saturday night.
In front of an announced crowd 10,145 anxious fans, the Buffs took a huge step in the program by snapping a six-game season opening losing streak with a convincing 35-16 win against Azusa Pacific.
They also snapped a nasty four-game season opening losing skid to the Cougars.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Buffs started sluggish, trailing 16-7 with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter. From that point on, both sides of the ball took total command as WT reeled off 28 unanswered to nab the monumental victory.
The rally started when redshirt sophomore quarterback Nick Gerber found Semaj Mitchell for a 48-yard strike that set WT up at the APU 7-yard line. On the next play, Brandon Blair scampered in from 7-yards out, cutting the lead to 16-14. The Buffs offense rolled from there. Gerber hit Jordan Johnson on a 9-yard touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter, followed by a Jarrod Compton 10-yard run on the next drive, making it 28-16.
The scoring came complete when Johnson took a snap from center and burled in from a yard out, sealing the win with 3:35 to play.
Linebacker Hayden Dennis (44) celebrates after a big stop. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
HOW BOUT THAT BUFFS DEFENSE
It hasn’t taken long for Hughes to put his defensive stamp on his team. The Buffs stifled the Cougars, limiting APU to 277 total yards and 24 rushing yards. Linebackers Frank Honang and Eric Collins were all over the field. Honang had 16 tackles while Collins made eight tackles with a forced fumble. WT was big on stops, forcing two turnovers and holding APU to 5 of 18 on third downs.
WT safety Chazz Slatinsky shoves APU quarterback Tyrone Williams Jr. out of bounds. [Mackenzie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]
WELCOME BACK CHAZZ SLATINSKY
WT safety Chazz Slatinsky played his first game for WT in almost two years Saturday. The senior captain suffered a major leg injury against Eastern New Mexico in 2017 and hasn’t been back since. Slatinsky’s eagerness was obvious against APU, making 12 tackles with two pass breakups.
WT tight end Jordan Johnson runs upfield after making a catch. [Mackenzie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]
New offensive coordinator Jake Brown didn’t hesitate getting 6-foot-1, 250 pound tight end Jordan Johnson involved in the offense. Johnson made the APU defenders night miserable, being a load to bring down. Johnson carried three to four defenders on multiple plays. On the night, the senior workhorse seven catches for 79 yards with a score and a rushing TD.
WT quarterback Nick Gerber looks to throw during the second quarter. [Mackenzie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]
Gerber also had a quality debut. The Texas Tech transfer and Levelland graduate hasn’t played since his days at Tyler Junior College two years ago. Gerber settled in, going 18-of-27 for 192 yards with a passing TD and scored the first touchdown in the new stadium on a 16-yard run.
Check out postgame interviews below.
West Texas A&M 35, Azusa Pacific 16
Azusa Pacific 0 6 10 0 — 16
West Texas A&M 7 0 7 21 — 35
WT—Nick Gerber 16 run (Maurcio Gonzalez kick), 9:50
AP—Ramzee Jaridly FG 35, 11:30
AP—Jaridly FG 23, 0:47
AP—Jaridly FG 39, 9:23
AP—Brandon Jackson 23 pass from Tyron Williams Jr. (Jaridly kick), 4:12
WT—Brandon Blair 7 run (Gonzalez kick), 3:27
WT—Jordan Johnson 9 pass from Gerber
(Gonzalez kick), 14:12
WT—Jarrod Compton 10 run (Gonzalez kick), 7:17
WT—Johnson 1 run (Gonzalez kick), 3:35
Azusa Pacific West Texas A&M
First downs 14 18
Rushing 24 200
Passing 253 192
Total yards 277 392
C-A-I 25-38-1 18-27-0
Punts 6-43.3 4-33.2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Time of Possession 33:21 26:39
Penalties-yards 2-10 1-10
RUSHING—Azusa Pacific: Aaron Baltazar 11-17, Bryce Grandison 9-13, Gil-Scott Jackson 1-3, Zikel Reddick 1-(-1), T. Williams 9-(-8). West Texas A&M: Prince Ugwu 9-70, Blair 11-50, Gerber 8-40, Compton 4-22, Duke Carter 5-12, Johnson 4-11, Logan Vallo 1-0, Max Perez 1-(-1), Aaron Coash 1-(-2), Team 2-(-2).
PASSING—Azusa Pacific: T. Williams 25-38-1-253. West Texas A&M: Gerber 18-27-0-192.
RECEIVING—Azusa Pacific: Grandison 7-62, B. Jackson 6-63, Jasiah Richard-Lewis 4-52, Shane Hursh 2-34, Lucas Widmer 2-32, Noah Bogardus 1-6, G. Jackson 1-5, Baltazar 1-1, Baraq Ross 1-(-2). West Texas A&M: Johnson 7-79, Semaj Mitchell 6-95, Markel Stephens-Peppers 2-8, Jamaal Hamilton 1-6, Brock Gerlich 1-3, Blair 1-1.