No. 5 Angelo State opens LSC play with 34-21 decision against UTPB
The No. 5 Angelo State University football team held off UT Permian Basin 34-21 in the Lone Star Conference opener for both teams Saturday at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.
ASU improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the LSC, while dropping UTPB to 1-2, 0-1.
"It wasn't the prettiest thing, but we don't apologize for wins," ASU head coach Jeff Girsch said. "If you were into the wind, it was hard to score. There was a pretty good breeze tonight, so going into the wind teams had a hard time moving it.
"Shoot, I'm proud of them. They finished it. We had some adversity and our kids responded to it. We need to play better, there's no doubt. I'm proud of the way they got the win."
The Rams will host No. 14 West Texas A&M at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at 1st Community Credit Union Field at LeGrand Stadium. The Buffaloes (2-1, 0-1) will be looking to bounce back from a 31-18 loss at home against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Rams running back Nate Omayebu, the LSC rushing champion from last year, was a workhorse with 26 carries for 130 yards and a 1-yard touchdown against UTPB. He also had a 12-yard TD reception from quarterback Zach Bronkhorst.
"Nate's going to do that," Girsch said. "He's a great football player. We going to continue to ride him, but make sure we're spelling him at times, too, to get Kason (Phillips) in there and get some other guys in there for touches to limit how many (carries Nate gets) because it's a long season.
"It's a very physical conference, so we've got to be smart with him about how much we're getting him the ball. Again, when it comes down to it, and we need a hard yard or a couple of yards, it's hard not to give the ball to No. 6, man. He did a great job and I'm proud of him."
Bronkhorst completed 22 of 42 passes for 325 yards and two TDs. His QB rating was 133.1.
Kyle Bradford (4 receptions for 78 yards) and Noah Massey (4 for 70) had almost indentical yardage to lead the Rams' receiving corps.
ASU led 14-0 after the first quarter and 24-7 at the half, but UTPB looked like it might pull off a huge comeback and upset after cutting the deficit to 24-21 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Rams gave themselves some breathing room with a 46-yard field goal by Asa Fuller in the fourth, followed by a 5-yard TD toss from Bronkhorst to Drew Carstens.
When the game was hanging in the balance, the ASU defense stiffened and kept UTPB from putting any more points on the scoreboard in the final period.
"We gave up some big plays on defense, but our kids didn't quit," Girsch said. "That's such a positive. They continued to battle and fight, and that's what you look for in a football team.
"I'd rather not give up those plays and get in those situations, but when you do, we've got a team that rallies around each other. We had a lot of penalties (eight for 51 yards) tonight, too. We've got to get that cleaned up, but our kids didn't quit and when adversity hit, they kept going. So I'm really proud of that part."
Girsch was very pleased with special-teams play for the most part.
Fuller missed a long field goal into the wind, but the Rams coach said, "He had enough leg for it, but the wind just took that thing and pushed it over."
Girsch says the LSC opener was an eye opener for the Rams.
"It's definitely a wake-up call for us to understand that this conference is no joke," he said. "Everybody had UTPB pegged as a team that's in the bottom half of our conference, but they were lining up and they took it to us for a few quarters. You've got to play well in this conference or you lose, and that's the way things go."
It was a hostile environment for the Rams, especially when the Falcons got within three points heading into the fourth quarter.
"I told our guys at halftime, 'We're one play away from this place being crazy,' " Girsch said. "And they got the big play to pull it within a score and you heard it. It was rocking in here. The environment was tough to play in, but again, that's part of it in the Lone Star."
UTPB quarterback Jordan Barton was 10 of 19 passing for 246 yards and two TDs against three interceptions.
The Rams opened the scoring on a 41-yard yard pick six by Andrew Pitts in the first quarter.
Micah Flowers and Daron Allman also had an interception for ASU.
ASU finished with 436 total yards offense, compared to 258 for UTPB.
The Rams dominated time of possession (37:59 to 22:01).
ASU was 5 of 16 on third-down conversions, while limiting UTPB to 1 of 11.
The Rams defense recorded nine sacks, and the Falcons had two.
This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: No. 5 Angelo State opens LSC play with 34-21 decision against UTPB