SILVER CITY, NM - No. 10 Midwestern State never trailed Saturday at Ben Altamirano Field rolling to a 43-22 win over Western New Mexico.
With the win, MSU improves to 4-0 for the third consecutive year and for the ninth time since the Bill Maskill era began in 2012.
The victory sets up a showdown with No. 6-ranked Texas A&M-Commerce next Saturday on the road. The Lions also improved to 4-0 with a 35-12 win at Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday.
Coward connected with senior wideout Statron Jones on a slant pattern on the next drive which resulted in a 63-yard touchdown to push the lead to two possessions.
But Western New Mexico fought back scoring on a 55-yard touchdown on a flea flicker from Javia Hall to Xavier Ayers before halftime. WNMU cashed in on fumbled punt return at the start of the second that resulted in a 4-yard scoring plunge by DeAndre Williams. The PAT failed allowing MSU to lead 14-13 with 9:42 to play in the third quarter.
Midwestern State answered with an 11-play, 65-yard drive culminating on the first of Vincent Johnson's three touchdown runs -- from yards out -- to extend the lead to 21-13.
The Mustangs used a goal line stand to thrwart WNMU on the next possession, but Western New Mexico netted a safety when Aaron Leauma tackled Coward on a keeper in the end zone to cut the MSU lead to 21-15 with 12:49 to play.
Midwestern State regained momentum when freshman defensive lineman Quailon Haynes stripped Hall on a sack and Cameron McEnturff fell on the ball at the WNMU 4-yard line. Johnson crashed his way into the end on the next play and Coward Breion Evans for the 2-point conversion to give MSU a 29-15 with 12:28 to go.
After MSU forced Western New Mexico into a three-and-out, the Mustangs put the game away with a 7-play, 69-yard drive culminating with Johnson's third touchdown of the game on a 25-yard run on fourth-and-1.
Ayers, an All-American last season, caught six of his game-high 13 receptions on a 13-play, 83-yard drive finishing off with a 5-yard scoring toss from hall with 2:52 to play.
Midwestern tacked on one more score after Haynes once again stripped Hall of the ball with a recovery by Robert Kitchens on the WNMU 6-yard line with 1:29 to play.
Sophomore Nicholas Gabriel carried the ball in on the next play for the final score of the game.
Midwestern State improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in LSC play, while Western New Mexico dropped to 2-3 and 2-2.
Midwestern State suffered its second five-set defeat of the weekend Saturday afternoon as Texas A&M-Commerce erased a 2-0 deficit to earn the 3-2 win (21-25, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18, 15-12) over the Mustangs at the A&M-Commerce Field House.
Aerielle Edwards helped lead Midwestern State (7-8, 3-4 LSC) to a 25-21 first set win with a team-best five kills in the opening frame. The Mustangs put together a 7-0 run to take a 15-11 advantage before the Lions evened the score at 19-all following a kill by Daisge Smith. The Mustangs pulled away with Meghan Bettis recording a pair of kills before an ace by Sarah Garfield gave the first set to the visitors.
Edwards reached double figures in kills in the second set with her 10th kill giving the Mustangs a 25-23 win in the frame to take a 2-0 lead in the match. MSU overcame a 4-1 deficit to start the set before a 5-0 run behind a pair of aces from Christy Carruth helped the Mustangs grab a 10-7 lead. Midwestern stretched its lead to as many as five following three-straight kills, however, Texas A&M-Commerce (10-6, 4-2 LSC) responded by knotting the set at 20 apiece after back-to-back MSU attack errors. Edwards came through for the Mustangs down the stretch with three-straight kills to propel MSU to the win.
A&M-Commerce held Midwestern to a .067 hitting percentage in the third frame as the Mustangs committed five attack errors in the latter part of the set to help the Lions pull away. A service ace for Erin Richburg gave MSU a 13-10 advantage before the Lions evened the set at 14 apiece. From there, A&M-Commerce mounted an 11-4 run to avoid the sweep in a 25-18 victory.
The Lions posted a match-best .267 hitting percentage to record a 25-18 win in set four. After Midwestern State pulled within 16-14 to force a TAMUC timeout, the Lions closed the frame on a 5-0 run with Smith recording a pair of aces in the spurt.
A&M-Commerce jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the decisive set following a kill by Bina Njikam. The Mustangs crept back within two at 14-12 after fending off three match points before a kill for Taryn Drive completed the comeback for the Lions.
Freshman Bianca Duff fell just short of a South Central Regional title Saturday afternoon as St. Mary's No. 13 seed Ally Maciel pulled out a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 comeback victory in the championship match at the Arlington Tennis Center.
Duff began the day by defeating her third-straight seeded opponent with a 6-2, 6-0 over Cameron's No. 1 seed Paula Gutierrez in the semifinals.
In the finals, Duff overcame a 4-1 deficit in the third set by winning four-straight games to take a 5-4 lead and serve for the match. However, Maciel responded with a run of her own to pull back in front and record the 7-5 win.
On the weekend, the Geelong, Australia native earned wins over three of the top seven seeds in the draw, defeating Tarleton State's No. 7 Erika Richarme and St. Edward's No. 3 Anjali Sampath in yesterday's action.