Home Sports Local Sports NMMI Broncos upset No. 2 Kilgore College

NMMI Broncos upset No. 2 Kilgore College

NMMI’s Anthony Grant (3) tries to get around some Kilgore defenders Saturday night at the Wool Bowl. (Peter Dindinger Photo/NMMI Sports Press)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Peter Dindinger
NMMI Sports Press

The New Mexico Military Institute Bronco football team had never beaten Kilgore College during the regular season. NMMI’s only win over the Rangers came on Nov. 2, 2019 during the opening round of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs.

Fast forward two years. With all the odds stacked against them, the 12th-ranked Broncos were not phased as they were able to pull off a 37-26 upset of No. 2 Kilgore on Saturday night at the Wool Bowl. “It’s huge for the guys,” said NMMI head coach Kurt Taufa’asau after the win. “It’s just exciting. I’m speechless right now. The way the guys played tonight is a testament to our preparation throughout the week.”

Like two heavyweights taking jabs in the ring, each offense stalled on the first drive.

Then NMMI put together an 11-play drive that ended with a 39-yard field goal by William Testa with 7:48 in the opening quarter. The Rangers answered back with a quick, seven-play drive that resulted in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Malcom Mays to Cassius Allen. The extra point attempt was blocked.

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NMMI later marched down the field on 11 plays to give Testa another opportunity for three points. Testa delivered once again, this time from 35 yards out to tie the game with 14:50 remaining in the second quarter.

Trying to answer the call, the Kilgore offense suffered its first turnover when Joseph Norwood picked off Mays. Anthony Grant then sprinted into the end zone from 55 yards out on the first play of NMMI’s next offensive series to give the Broncos a 13-6 lead with 13:34 remaining.

The Bronco secondary stepped up once again when Tre O’Guinn grabbed an interception to spoil another Ranger drive. NMMI banked on the turnover as Diego Pavia connected with Malik Phillips for a 23-yard touchdown.

With the Rangers up against the ropes, the Broncos kept on dealing blow after blow. Kilgore was forced to punt on the next drive, which gave NMMI good field position at the Ranger 47. Terrance Moore dashed into the end zone from 40 yards out to cap off a two-play, 47-yard drive. The Broncos led by 21 points with just under seven minutes remaining until halftime.

Kilgore got one more touchdown in before the end of the first half as Mays hit his favorite target Allen for a 33-yard pass to make the score 27-13.

In the third quarter the NMMI defense got a big sack from Christian Carreathers to help force the Rangers to punt away on fourth-and-14. After a 28-yard pass from Pavia to Logan Compton, the Broncos settled for a 23-yard field goal by Testa to increase their lead to 17 with 9:37 in the quarter.

A 60-yard reception from Mays to Zeek Freeman helped set up a 14-yard touchdown connection from Mays to Allen at the tail end of the quarter.

Working on running down the clock, NMMI got a five-yard touchdown run by Pavia with two and a half minutes left in the game. Trying to pull off a comeback, the Rangers got one final score in the form of a 16-yard pass from Mays to Marques Pearson with 1:01 on the clock. A failed onside kick allowed the Broncos to begin the celebration on the sidelines.

Grant rushed for 239 yards on 35 carries. The Broncos produced 443 yards of offense, 308 of which came on the ground. Pavia finished 12 for 22 with 135 yards while he ran for 29 yards on nine carries. Jaylin Smith led the receiving corps with three catches for 53 yards while Phillips had four receptions for 38 yards.

The Rangers led the passing game with 305 yards as Mays went 20 for 39 with four touchdowns. Allen grabbed three touchdowns as he had 92 yards on six catches. Kilgore had four fumbles, one of which was lost, in addition to 10 penalties for 106 yards and two costly interceptions thrown.

NMMI next travels to Brenham, Texas Oct. 2 for a 7 p.m. CDT kickoff against Blinn College, which won a nonconference game, 74-12, over Louisiana Community Christian. As for the Rangers, they will take on Navarro College, which lost to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, 39-15.

“Every team is tough to play, so we got to bring our ‘A’ game every week,” said Taufa’asau. “It’s huge to beat a team with a caliber like that.”

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