By Marc Trevino
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas showed why they are ranked fifth in the nation Saturday, Sept. 25, as they rolled through the Cardinals 37-9 at Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium.
The Cardinal offense got off to a rough start when backup quarterback Eric Massoni set up as a receiver, where he fumbled the ball resulting in a 12-yard loss.
The Javelinas defense tightened, causing the Cardinals to punt, giving TAMUK their first offensive possession where they began to showcase why they are so highly ranked. Quarterback Nate Poppell scored two back-to-back touchdowns on a 31-yard run and a short one-yard run.
The visitor section at the newly remodeled stadium was completely full, as the Javelinas’ faithful fans made the trip from Kingsville. They weren’t disappointed with the outcome either as the Javelinas returned a bad punt for a touchdown to increase the score to 21-0.
Massoni, who took over for quarterback Paden Lynch after Lynch injured early in the game, began to find a rhythm offensively in the second quarter. After the Cardinal defense came up with a safety, Massoni completed a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Dominic Hamilton to bring the half to a close with a 28-9 score.
However, the second half didn’t bring much more offensive action, as neither teams scored until the Javelinas kicked a field goal early in the fourth quarter and then six more points on a touchdown with 1:25 left in the game.
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Cardinals (1-3, 1-2) showed they wouldn’t give up after a rocky start. Even though the final score would suggest otherwise, UIW tightened up on defense and even found a decent rhythm on offense, with Massoni finishing with 141 yards on 14 of 25 passing with no interceptions.
“Maybe we were a little intimidated to start,” UIW Coach Mike Santiago said. “But as we went along we figured out we can play with them.”