The Pony Express chewed up 389 rushing yards to lift 12th-ranked Midwestern State to a 35-31 come-from-behind win over Abilene Christian Saturday afternoon at Shotwell Stadium.
"(ACU) fought hard all day and we found a way to make a few more plays than they did particularly at the end of the game," MSU coach Bill Maskill said.
But MSU junior running back Keidrick Jackson rushed for a career-high 197 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown while senior quarterback Brandon Kelsey ran for 141 yards and four touchdowns and sophomore running back Chauncey Harris accounted for 117 yards of total offense out of the backfield to key the victory.
The Mustangs sixth straight win improved them to 6-1 on the season and to 5-1 in the Lone Star Conference. MSU returns to Memorial Stadium Saturday against Eastern New Mexico. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Wildcats snagged momentum stopping Jackson on a fourth-and-1 from the ACU 43 with 7:50 to play.
ACU's Mitchell Gale, who passed for 335 yards and three touchdowns, led the Wildcats back down the field on a 7-play, 56-yard drive culminated with a 5-yard TD strike to Jamie Walker to give Abilene Christian a 31-28 lead with 5:43 to play.
For the third consecutive, the Mustangs answered the bell when trailing in the second half.
Jackson rushed for 16 and 10 yards on consecutive carries then Harris helped the Mustangs overcome a chop block infraction advancing the ball 18 yards on a swing pass on a third-and-16 play to set up a first down at the ACU 35-yard line.
Harris rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries and caught four passes for 57 more yards.
Jackson and Kelsey rotated carries the remainder of the way as Kelsey polished off the 12-play, 75-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring burst with 1:27 to go.
The teams exchanged scoring punches in the opening quarter as Gale connected with Taylor Gabriel on a 10-yard TD connection and Charcandrick West had a 3-yard scoring run to combat a pair of Kelsey touchdown jaunts (2, 30) as the Mustangs and Wildcats were tied at 14-14 going into the second quarter.
ACU's Ryan Owens hit a 32-yard field goal as the lone score of the second quarter to post the Wildcats to a 17-14 halftime advantage.
The teams exchanged the lead three times in the third quarter with Kelsey and Jackson accounted for touchdowns on 6- and 8-yard runs respectively sandwiched around a second Gale-to-Gabriel TD hookup as Midwestern would take a 28-24 lead into the final quarter of play.
It wasn't the result No. 10 Midwestern State was expecting Saturday morning in the Lone Star Conference Championship at the Lawton Soccer Complex.
The runner-up Mustangs came out flat and watched West Texas A&M end their four-year run of league supremacy.
"It's tough when you're being hunted and there are other schools and teams that are hungry and want to take your dreams and goals from you. It's scary and it's tough," MSU coach Koby Styles said. "This will get us more focused and more prepared for regionals and hopefully two weeks after that nationals."
The unranked Lady Buffs claimed their first LSC title as Brenda Sindet, Miereia Guarner and Amber Moore finished 1-2-3 as WT put five runners across the finish line before the Mustangs fourth runner would finish.
"The good thing is that we live to fight another day, but I told the girls to really pay attention to the awards ceremony," Styles said. "The feelings they are feeling to bottle it up and make sure they never feel like that again."
Juniors Janel Campbell and Ashley Flores struggled to 8th- and 9th-placed finishes with 6K times of 22:51.00 and 22:56.00 but both times were more than 40 seconds off their seasonal best times despite racing on a very flat course.
The duo, however, was able to repeat as All-Lone Star Conference performers along with sophomore Michelle Krezonoski, who paced a 23:08.00 to place 12th.
Junior Abigail Gonzalez (23:26.00) and sophomore Kim Krezonoski (23:37.00) finished 16th and 19th to close out MSU's counters as the Mustangs totaled 64 points well off WT's pace of 30.
"We just didn't have it today. West Texas ran really well," Styles said. "They were a little bit hungrier than we were."
Incarnate Word took third with 71 points followed by Angelo State (91), Eastern New Mexico (120), Tarleton State (164), Texas A&M-Commerce (211), Texas A&M-Kingsville (244) and Abilene Christian (254).
"I really feel this is good," Styles said. "I see this as a good positive thing because we probably needed a good, swift kick in the rear. This has really opened our eyes. Nobody is going to bow down and give anything to us. We're Midwestern State and other schools despise us because we're so successful in everything. I really feel like it will be a different story in two weeks."
Freshmen Brittany Adams (23:53.00/26th) and Tylo Farrar (24:08.00/30th) accounted for MSU's spacer runners while senior Nadia Majed (24:22.00/35th) and freshmen Maira Salinas (24:27.00/37th) and Ana Lopez (25:08.00/50th) rounded out Mustang harriers.
Midwestern State competes in the South Central Region Championships on Nov. 3 in Denver, Colo. The top five finishers advance to the NCAA Division II Championships set for Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo.
"Now, the script is flipped," Styles said. "We're going to be the hunters. I think this is probably a blessing in disguise."
Midwestern State's Haley Crandall made a splash scoring the game winning goal in her first collegiate game three seasons ago at the MSU Soccer Field.
She left a lasting impression with her Senior Day performance serving as the catalyst for three second-half tallies for the Mustangs in a 3-0 win over Texas A&M-Commerce.
"Haley did a very good job today," MSU coach Jeff Trimble said. "She's a very strong girl. She has good balance and can just crush a ball."
The Weatherford native recovered a deflected ball in the box in the 53rd minute and blasted ball into the net for her first goal of the season and first since scoring two goals against the Lions at home last season.
The goal kick started a brilliant half for the Mustangs, who managed just three shots in the opening frame.
"I was somewhat disappointed at the half, but we realized the wind was playing a big factor," Trimble said.
Once MSU's got the gusty winds (20-30 mph from the south) behind their backs, the offense started clicking.
And it seemed Crandall was in the mix for just about every dangerous opportunity while she was on the field.
Crandall's cross into the box in the 59th minute found junior Mickey Brown whose first touch was saved by Texas A&M-Commerce keeper Tracey Rogers, but Brown stuck with it and buried her second goal off of a rebound header to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead.
"We're playing with consistency, good defense and we're starting to finish," Trimble said. "We started generating shots as the season went a long and now we're starting to finish them."
Sophomore forward Payton Fookes tacked on her fourth goal of the season off of a nice over-the-top through ball from Hannah Staley in the 70th minute to round out scoring.
The Mustangs (6-8-3, 6-4-3) have clinched no worse than a No. 4 seed in the Lone Star Conference Postseason Tournament and can take the No. 3 berth with a win over Abilene Christian Friday afternoon in Abilene and an Angelo State loss or tie at Incarnate Word.
Texas A&M-Commerce (5-11, 4-9) was eliminated from postseason contention and finish the season Friday night at Texas Woman's University.
The Lone Star Conference Postseason Tournament is set for Nov. 1-4 at the site of the regular season champion. Incarnate Word and West Texas A&M are knotted at 27 points each.
UIW, which swept its regular season matches against the Lady Buffs, hosts Angelo State in its final game of the regular season while WT travels to Eastern New Mexico.
Incarnate Word will host with a win, while WT needs a win and either a UIW loss or tie.
West Texas A&M's Colin Bjostad weaved a ball through a crowded box to net the game winning goal as the 12th-ranked Buffs came away with a 2-1 double overtime win over No. 21 Midwestern State Sunday afternoon at The Pitch in Canyon.
The loss snapped a seven-match unbeaten streak for the Mustangs, who dropped to 8-2-4 on the season and to 0-2-1 in Lone Star Conference play after playing Eastern New Mexico to a 1-1 draw on Friday.
"We're disappointed with the results," MSU coach Doug Elder said. "We played really well against Eastern but just couldn't score in overtime. We create chances but have really struggled offensively over the past two games."
Freshman Ben Clarvis staked MSU to an early lead when his crossing pass got held up by brisk southerly winds and drifted over the reach of West Texas A&M goalkeeper Carlos Ruiz in the 26th minute.
"Everything was going to plan," Elder said. "We changed to a 4-5-1 alignment because we wanted to clog up the middle and hoped to score one early. We dominated the run of play in the first half, but they came back in the second half."
The Mustangs controlled a 10-5 edge in shots going into intermission, but would only take one second half shot allowing the Buffs to climb back into the match.
WT's Wayne Burton finished off a run-and-cross by Abel Olivas to notch the equalizer in the 65th minute and send the match into overtime.
"They didn't have a ton of great chances and took some on bad angles, but that was a very nice goal," Elder said. "(Burton) got through running at full speed and buried it."
West Texas A&M took the wind in the first overtime but the Mustangs were able to limit the Buffs to two shots opting to send numbers forward in the second overtime.
But the Buffs took advantage of a restart in the third minute of the second overtime resulting in Bjostad's game winning tally.
"The ball was cleared out and re-centered," Elder said. "It was a little bad luck, but the guys played hard and we had a chance to win. It seemed like every bounce that was going our way in the first half didn't in the second half."
Midwestern State hits the road to take on LSC-leading Incarnate Word Friday night at Benson Stadium in San Antonio. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.