UT Permian Basin receiver MJ Link gets loose for big yards against West Texas A&M during a Lone Star Conference game Saturday at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
ODESSA— It wasn’t the Lone Star Conference opener West Texas A&M head coach Hunter Hughes envisioned when his Buffaloes made the trip to the Permian Basin.
The Buffs saw UT Permian Basin come out on fire in the third quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points to get the Falcons their first win against WT, 42-31, in front of 5,771 fans at Ratliff Stadium on Saturday.
The Buffs drop to 1-1 early in the year, but more importantly 0-1 in the conference race. The Falcons stayed hot, winners of eight straight dating back to the spring, improving to 2-0 overall, and 1-0 in the LSC.
“We had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them,” Hughes said. “We made mistakes, and they took advantage of them. We had young guys not follow assignment on defense. But give UTPB credit.”
The WT defense had a hard time getting UTPB off the field most of the contest. The Falcons were 5-of-7 on third downs in the first half, finishing 9-for-15 in the victory.
The Buffs never led, however, trailed 21-17 at halftime after the two teams traded scores through most of the first 30 minutes.
But it was the third quarter where UTPB separated itself.
On the Falcons first possession of the second half, Clayton Roberts hit MJ Link down the sideline, and Link made a defender miss, sprinting his way 44 yards for a score, pushing the lead to 28-17. After WT missed a field goal, Roberts was back to work, marching the Falcons on another scoring drive, finding Jordan Smart for a 13-yard score, as UTPB was in control up 35-17.
“We didn’t play sound defensively,” Hughes said. “We missed tackles. In this day and age you can’t really go live in practice. But we have to do a better job of tackling. Offensively, we didn’t run it as well as I thought we would.”
Roberts set a new school-record with six touchdown passes, finishing 23-of-32 for 281 yards. Link was a mismatch for the Buffs, making eight snags for 140 yards with two touchdowns.
“We still have a lot to work on,” UTPB coach Justin Carrigan said. “We had penalties, and we didn’t keep our composure at times. We hit the big play for a score to open the third, then hold them, and score again. I felt the momentum swayed right there.”
UTPB finished with 408 total yards to the Buffs 392.
WT quarterback Nick Gerber completed 25-of-39 passes for 261 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Khalil Harris toted the ball 21 times for 94 yards and a score.
The Buffs return home to face LSC foe Western New Mexico at 7 p.m. on Saturdayat Buffalo Stadium.
LSC Week 2 scores
UT Permian Basin 42, W. Texas A&M 31
Midwestern State 31, A&M-Commerce 30
Angelo State 28, Chadron State 24
A&M-Kingsville 24, Western Oregon 10
E. New Mexico 42, Adams State 14
Western Colorado 49, W. New Mexico 14