Buffs defeat Oklahoma Panhandle State 42-7 in final home opener at Kimbrough

West Texas A&M's final season at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium got off to a great start as the Buffs defense forced four turnovers in a 42-7 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State in front of 6,889 fans on Saturday night. The Buffaloes held the Aggies offense to 283 yards as they improved to 1-1 on the season.

"We came out a little sluggish in the first quarter but were able to get things going on both sides of the ball," head coach Hunter Hughes said. "We scored in a lot ways as our special teams was on point and our defense scored two touchdowns. Our offense ran the ball when they needed and I am happy to get the win."

After having to punt on their first two possessions of the game, Mitch Hood found a streaking Payton Gonzales on the first play of the third drive for a 61-yard touchdown pass making it 7-0. WT's defense would force another OPSU punt that Tobias Harris returned 72 yards to put the Buffs at the 3-yard line with a little more than a minute left. Hood would take it himself on third-and-goal for his second rushing touchdown of the season.

The Buffs took advantage of a short field to start the second quarter to make it 21-0 with a little more than 10 minute remaining before halftime. Semaj Mitchell took a jet sweep 20 yards on the first play of the drive followed by a 19-yard touchdown run by Logan Vallo. After consecutive punts by both teams, the Buffalo defense would add another score before intermission when Keith Blank picked off Brandon Roman and took it 20-yards for a pick-six. Blank would get another interception on the final play of the first half when the Aggies tried some trickery on a fake spike.

The teams traded punts to open the second half before WT put together a 4-play, 57-yard drive to make it 28-0. Duke Carter IV did most of the heavy lifting on the drive with 50 yards rushing on three carries including a touchdown from 16-yards out. The defense came up big on the next Aggie possession with their second pick-six of the game when Harris intercepted John Polson before weaving his way for a 40-yard score. It was the freshman's third career interception in just his second game at WT.

The Aggies would get on the board in the final minutes of the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Polston to Nick West. OPSU were driving in the fourth quarter but James Clakr intercepted Polston's pass at the 1-yard line giving the Buffs four on the game.

Hood finished the game with 142 yards passing completing 8 of 18 passes with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for a touchdown for the second consecutive game. Carter IV rushed for 84 yards on 13 carries to go all with 48 yards receiving. Logan Vallo chipped in 48 yards on eight carries while Mitchell had 29 yards on three carriers to go along with three receptions.

Defensively, Christopher Thomas had a career-high 9.5 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Keimone Davis chipped in 7.5 tackles followed by Frank Honang at 6.5 tackles and 2.0 tackles for a loss. Blank had one tackle to go along with his two interceptions became the second Buff this season to have a multi-interception game.

The Buffaloes open Lone Star Conference play next Saturday, Sept. 15, against Tarleton at 6 p.m. at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.

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