KINGSVILLE (Javelinas Athletics) - Senior quarterback Nate Poppell and junior wide receiver Robert Armstrong combined for three touchdowns and the Texas A&M-Kingsville football team raced by Eastern New Mexico 33-13 on Saturday night in the regular-season finale at Javelina Stadium.
With the win, the Javelinas improve to 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the Lone Star Conference which is good for third in the league. They will now await an invitation to the Kanza Bowl on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Topeka, Kan. Eastern ends the season 3-7 overall and 2-6 in the league.
Poppell finished the game with a career-high four TD passes, while Armstrong became the fifth player with three touchdown receptions in a single game. It was last accomplished by Maurice Washington in 2002. They combined on TD passes of 4, 34 and 80 yards.
Poppell and Armstrong connected twice in the opening half. The Javelina duo combined on a 4-yard completion to cap the opening drive just over two minutes into the game. Anthony Johnson's 47-yard run set up the touchdown and accounted for over half of the yardage on the 7-play, 71-yard drive. Matt Stoll's point-after try was no good.
The scored remained 6-0 until the second quarter when the Greyhounds took a 7-6 lead a minute into the period. ENMU scored as Wesley Wood connected on a 6-yard pass with Charlie Savedra for the score. Dylan Baca gave the visitors the lead with the point after.
The Javelinas responded on their next possession. Poppell and Armstrong again connected for a score. Poppell scrambled in the backfield before finding Armstrong in the back of the end zone. Stoll's point-after attempt was good for a 13-7 lead.
After Steve Harris picked off his team-leading fourth interception of the season on the ensuing possession, the Javelinas struck again needing just five plays to drive 49 yards. Poppell hit Christian Taylor for 27 yards. Randall Toney then used runs of seven and six yards to push the ball to the ENMU 9. On the next play, Poppell hit Taylor for his third TD pass of the half with 8:32 remaining in the first half. Joseph Vela tried to run the ball in on a fake P.A.T. but was tackled before entering the end zone for a 19-7 lead.
Neither team scored again until late in the third quarter. The Greyhounds' Christian Long galloped 20 yards for a score to make it interesting at 19-13 with 31 seconds remaining in the third. The extra-point attempt was blocked by the Javelinas' Lamont Hills.
Fourteen points in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Javelinas. Poppell and Armstrong teamed up on an 80-yard strike with just less than seven minutes remaining. Defensive lineman Henry Greathouse sealed the win with a 16-yard fumble recovery just over a minute later.
Poppell finished 14-of-24 for 226 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Armstrong had 6 catches for 144 yards and had five TDs in the final two games of the regular season. Anthony Johnson led the Javelinas running attack with eight carries for 85 yards.
Defensively, Mark Savere had a career-high 14 tackles and Anthony Forker added 10 stops. The Javelinas finished with a season-high six sacks and had 11 total tackles for loss. Darnell Hicks had a team-best 1-1/2 sacks, while Robert Williams, Ricky Marshall and Mike Yarbrough each had one.
ENMU's Wood finished 21-of-35 for 210 yards and an interception. Jacob Johnson had nine catches for 120 yards. Three players – led by Long with 49 yards – had 42 yards or more rushing as the team had 143. Perron Sellers had a team-high 14 tackles.
The Greyhounds, who trailed on Kingsville for time of possession in the LSC, held on to the ball for 35:31, while Kingsville had the ball 24:29. ENMU ran 83 plays to Kingsville's 31.