West Texas A&M’s Homecoming against UT-Permian Basin on Saturday night at Buffalo Stadium was a perfect opportunity for Gage Urias to set a school record.
Urias was just glad to get the chance.
Less than 2 ½ minutes after missing a potential game-winning field goal, Urias got a second chance kicking into the wind from 32 yards out. This time Urias made the kick with four seconds left, giving the Buffs a 28-27 victory and their first Lone Star Conference win of the season.
Not only did Urias set a school record with his fifth field goal of the game, it was a shot at redemption. With 2:29 left in the game, Urias had his only miss, this one from 36 yards and which looked as if it would make him the goat.
“I was very grateful because that hardly comes back,” said Urias of getting a second chance at winning the game. “After I missed that one I was trying to keep my head up and everyone was like ‘It’s going to come back to you, it’s going to come back to you.’ I said I got you.”
UTPB had taken a 27-25 lead with 8:56 left in the game on a 33-yard field goal by Carson Roberts. WT (3-2, 1-2 LSC) responded my marching down the field until the drive stalled at the UTPB 19-yard line.
Urias came on for the go-ahead field goal, the first one he would attempt going into the south wind. It missed to the left and the Falcons took over at their own 20 with a chance to run out the clock.
The Buffs had two timeouts left and used them after two UTPB running plays netted five yards. With the clock stopped on third down, the Falcons tried a pass but it fell incomplete, giving the Buffs a chance to get the ball back with over two minutes left.
“We hit some adversity,” WT coach Hunter Hughes said. “Gage misses the field goal and in the back of my mind I’m kind of glad he did, because we would have had to go back on the field with our defense and they were gassed. We did a good job of not giving up any ground.”
The Buffs took over at their own 34 and faced a fourth-and-two, and quarterback Nick Gerber scrambled for a 3-yard gain to keep the game alive. That seemed to be the boost they needed.
“We had no timeouts and this is a scenario we practice all the time, especially on Thursdays and our offense has never done that well on Thursdays,” Hughes said. “We felt we needed the 25-yard line.”
Gerber hit back-to-back passes to Tyler Sweet to move the ball to the UTPB 32. After an incompletion. Gerber got it done with his legs again, running for 18 yards to the UTPB 14.
From there it was up to Urias.
“The first one I missed I was thinking of where I was aiming it,” Urias said. “I had aimed down the middle. The last kick I thought I’d go a little more right and it went down the middle. It’s just playing the wind.”
WT had to turn to the foot of Urias to take a 9-0 lead in the first quarter. The Buffs benefited from good field position to get six of those points.
After UTPB was forced to punt on the first offensive possession of the game, WT’s Ty Dillon partially blocked the punt by Sergio Landeros to give the Buffs the ball at the UTPB 48-yard line. That set up a 33-yard field goal by Urias for a 3-0 lead.
WT’s next possession also resulted in a Urias field goal, this one from 49 yards and a 6-0 lead. On UTPB’s ensuing possession, WT’s Preston Stezewski intercepted Dylan Graham and returned it to the UTPB 24, setting up a 24-yard kick by Urias with 17 seconds left in the first quarter for a 9-0 lead.
A rout looked on early in the second quarter when the Buffs finally found the end zone, as Jarrod Compton scored on an 18-yard run to make it 16-0.
However, linebacker JT Cavender went out with a knee injury and was carted off the field. Later in the half, Stezewski, a starting safety, also limped off the field and didn’t return the rest of the half.
“I can’t comment on the status of our injuries,” Hughes said. “We lost JT and you can tell it deflated the team. It was not a pretty deal. He said ‘Coach just bring us a win.’”
The Falcons got on the board on two scoring passes from Graham to MJ Link from 47 and 6 yards to cut it to 16-14 at halftime.
Gerber ended up leading the Buffs in rushing with 105 yards on 14 carries and scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter which briefly gave the Buffs a 25-24 lead. He also completed 27-of-43 passes for 271 yards.
Noah Bogardus had a huge game for WT with 11 catches for 195 yards.