West Texas A&M’s defense absolutely dominated and the offense capitalized on miscues while doing enough to lift the Buffs to a 23-0 shutout win over rival Midwestern State in the Lone Star Conference opener on Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 6,726 fans at Bain-Schaeffer Buffaloes Stadium.
The WTAMU defense was able to rewrite the record books in multiple ways thanks to the blanking of MSU. It’s the first shutout for the Buffs since beating Texas College, 72-0, on Sept. 2, 2021. It was the first LSC shutout for WTAMU since blanking former rival Abilene Christian, 36-0, on Oct. 13, 2012, and it was the first time to hold the Mustangs scoreless since a 5-0 win in 1996.
“There is nothing better than a shutout,” WTAMU head football coach Josh Lynn said. “It means a lot. It doesn’t matter if it’s Midwestern State or any opponent. You keep a team off the board you have a great chance of winning.”
WT has now won two straight improving to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the LSC. MSU falls to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The Buffs defense made life miserable the entire night for the MSU offense from the start of the first quarter to the final whistle. WTAMU was in complete control holding MSU to a dismal 103 yards of total offense, 18 of those in the first half, held MSU to 4-of-16 on third down conversions, finished with three sacks, forced two turnovers, and didn’t allow a redzone scoring opportunity.
“I’m just so proud of the effort,” Lynn said. “The defense played amazing, and our defensive coordinator Levi Gallas had a great scheme. It was just an overall great defensive effort.”
The Buff linebackers are proving to be a major factor especially if WTAMU wants to be successful this season. Against MSU, the group of Jimmy Harrison, JT Cavender and Koby King flew all over the field making play after play. Harrison tallied a game-high 10 tackles, Cavender followed with eight and King added five tackles including a sack.
“I’m proud of the effort we had,” said Harrison, who transferred with Lynn from Nebraska-Kearney. “We have the warriors on the defensive line that allows the linebackers to become free. That allowed everyone to make plays. We played as a unit tonight.”
Cavender echoed Harrison’s comments and adds it’s all about the week of prep leading up this game.
“This feels great,” Cavender said. “To do it with great teammates is awesome. We completely came together. Everyone did their job and it started during the week of practice. We had the best week of practice we’ve had yet.”
The offense didn’t have the night the defense had but played complimentary football.
Once again, the quarterback position continues to be a main concern for Lynn and his team. After a slow start, Lynn pulled freshman Kanon Gibson for veteran Kyle Brown at the six-minute mark of the second quarter.
“We have work to do on offense,” Lynn said. “We’re not doing what we’re supposed to do on offense. It was my decision to put Kyle Brown in. I was trying to find a spark and he had a good week of practice.”
Brown did an admirable job going 3-of-10 for 59 yards and did connect on an 18-yard scoring pass to Ryan Cosper putting the Buffs up 20-0 with 3:14 remaining in the third quarter.
Other than that scoring drive that went five plays for 80 yards to Cosper, the WTAMU offense had to take advantage of MSU mistakes to get points. The Buffs caught a break late in the first quarter off an eight-yard punt from MSU’s Diego Gonzalez giving WTAMU the ball at the Mustangs 20-yard line. WTAMU was able to break a scoreless tie early from that point as Isaiah Smallwood plunged his way in from one yard out on a fourth and goal that gave WTAMU a 7-0 lead with 12:53 remaining.
While the passing game still needs work, the Buff running game carried the offense. WTAMU ran for 205 of its 280 yards led by the work another stellar outing from redshirt freshman Tray’vian McCoy-Gay. Gay went over the century mark for a second straight week toting the ball 15 times for 133 yards. Smallwood was solid as well rushing for 85 yards on 18 carries.
“I liked the way we ran the football,” Lynn said. “In the third and fourth quarter we did a good job of putting together drives behind the running backs that helped kill clock.”
The Buffs continue LSC action when they face UT Permian Basin (2-1) at 6 p.m., on Saturday at Midland’s Astound Broadband Stadium.