Buffs defeat Angelo State 26-18: Extend winning streak to 4 games

WTAMU Buffs
The West Texas A&M Buffaloes forced two interceptions and blocked a punt for the third consecutive game as they defeated Angelo State 26-18 on Homecoming at LeGrand Stadium in San Angelo, Texas. WT has now won four games for the first time since 2015 as they improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Lone Star Conference Play.

After allowing an opening drive touchdown for the third time of the season, WT's defense settled down with James Clark recording his second interception of the game near the end of the first quarter. Michael Shipley would get the Buffs on the board in the second quarter with a career-long 36-yard field goal to finish an 11 play, 42-yard drive.

After a three-and-out to open the second half, WT's special teams scored the first touchdown of the game for the visitors on a blocked punt by Ayrton Payne. It was the Buffs third consecutive game with a blocked punt as the redshirt freshman blocked the punt before returning it 15 yards for his second touchdown of the season. ASU would respond to tie the game 10-all on the next drive on a 44-yard field goal from Connor Flanigan.

Houghtaling went 3-of-4 for 69 yards on the next drive before scoring from 1-yard out to give the Buffs a 17-10 lead with 5:41 remaining in the third quarter. After a sack on first down, Houghtaling completed a 10-yard pass to Markel Steward on second down before connecting with Semaj Mitchell for 37 yards on third down. A pass interference call extended the drive when Houghtaling connected with Mtichell again, this time for 22 yards to the Rams 1-yard line. Houghtaling would take the next play in for the touchdown for his third career rushing touchdown.

WT would extend the lead to nine, 19-10, near the end of the third quarter on their first safety since 2014. Xavier Rivera will get credited with the safety for tackling Payne Sullins in the end zone but it was all set up with a 57-yard punt from John Cummings. Houghtaling continued to shred the Ram defense on the ensuing possession with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jamaal Hamilton at the start of the fourth quarter. The sophomore gunslinger connected with Steward for 41 yards during the drive before Hamilton scored his first career TD. The Rams would make it one score game, 26-18, by taking the kickoff 94 yards followed by a successful two-point conversion.

Hunter Hughes and special teams coordinator Rodney Freeman ran their first fake punt of the year on the next possession when ASU thought they had forced a three-and-out. Gerred Johnson ran for 11 yards on 4-and-1 to extend the drive for the Buffs. ASU was able to move the ball down the field on their next possession but Tobias Harris showed why he is one of the top freshman in the nation with an interception in the end zone. The Rams got all the way down to WT's 28 before Harris recorded his team-high sixth interception of the season.

Houghtaling completed 22 of 32 passes for a season-high 238 yards and a touchdown while rushing for his first TD of the season. Duke Carter had 58 yards rushing on 31 attempts to go along with one reception for three yards. Semaj Mitchell had his best game as a Buff with seven catches and 93 yards while Markel Steward had four catches four 78 yards. Jamaal Hamilton tied a career-high with four catches for 24 yards and a touchdown.

Eric Collins was one of three Buffs with double-digit tackles with a season-high 12 with Frank Honang and Christopher Thomas recording 11 apiece. Gerred Johnson had four tackles to go allowing with two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Cummings had one of his best performances of his career with nine punts for 430 yards with six of those punts being inside the 20-yard line.

The Buffs host Eastern New Mexico in the Wagon Wheel Game on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

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