ABILENE, Texas - For the second week in a row, McMurry University’s football team got into an old fashioned shoot-out, this time with West Texas A&M University, the No. 9/16-ranked team in the nation for NCAA Division II. The result was a 90-57 defeat in a game that not only featured 147 combined points, but also 1,401 yards of total offense.
The contest was not for the faint of heart. Despite trailing most of the game, the young War Hawks never seemed intimidated by the perennially-strong Buffaloes’ squad. The 57 points scored and 708 yards of offense by McMurry is the most WTAMU has permitted to an opponent this season.
McM also set a school record by running 101 plays in the game. It was also far-and-away the most combined points in a game (out-distancing the 101 points in 2011 when McM defeated Mississippi College, 63-38).
McMurry won the toss and elected to immediately receive the kick. Despite not scoring on their first possession, the McM defense came out inspired and forced a three-and-out by WTAMU. Getting the ball back with a first-and-ten on the Buffs’ 38 after the 29-yard punt, McM was in great shape early.
The War Hawks needed just five plays before breeching the end zone when freshman quarterback Gabe Rodriguez lofted a two-yard pass to Greg Livingston. It was the first of an eventual five TD passes from Rodriguez on the afternoon and – after Ian McCarthy’s PAT kick – gave McMurry the 7-0 lead with 9:22 left in the opening period.
That was the first salvo of what would become an offensive show. WTAMU responded to McMurry’s TD with 24-unanswered points and all in the first quarter with just 40 seconds left on the clock after upping the margin to 24-7. But that was more than enough time for one more War Hawk score, as well.
Beginning on its own 35 after WTAMU’s kickoff went out of bounds, on the second play Rodriguez and Livingston hooked up again, this time on a beautiful 61-yard catch-and-run to make it 24-14 as the period came to a close.
The Buffs posted 28 more in the second quarter, while McMurry added a pair of touchdowns, both via the pass. Rodriguez hit Clinton McCoy with a two-yard strike over the middle with 5:23 left in the second and followed that with a six-yard leaping grab by Jeret Smith on an untimed down play – following a defensive penalty - as the half expired, 52-28.
The third quarter saw the Buffs spread the gap even further, posting 31 points in the stanza. McMurry tried to keep pace, mustering 21 points of its own. Unlike the previous tallies, all three TDs came via the rush. Chris Simpson had a 24 yard jaunt at the 10:20 mark, while Paxton Grayer scored on runs of four yards (at 7:52) and 14 yards (at 3:46).
In the fourth quarter, Grayer’s 57 yard run gave McM its final touchdown to cap a seven-play, 88-yard drive. WTAMU’s late fourth quarter score would make it the 90-57 final.
On the afternoon, Grayer carried 12 times for a career-high 159 yards, averaging 13.2 yards per carry, to go along with his two rushing scores. He also the one receiving score to his credit.
Backfield mate Chris Simpson had a good game, too, carrying a workhorse-like 20 times for 97 yards and the one touchdown.
Livingston – honored in a pre-game ceremony for becoming McM’s all-time receptions leader last Saturday – added to his ledger against the Buffaloes. The junior hauled in eight passes (giving him 172 for his career) for 129 yards.
Smith’s catch total was nine for 95 yards and the touchdown.
Rodriguez had another of his solid outings, this time against a school which recruited him before he chose McM. Rodriguez completed 28-of-46 passed for 344 yards and he was intercepted twice. Rodriguez’s five touchdown passes gave him 27 for the season and gave him the school record for passing touchdowns by a freshman. The previous mark was 25 by former all-American Jake Mullin in 2009.
Desmond Guy led the McM defense with seven tackles. Chase Jackson, Jonathan Blair and Cory Pippen