A tough test awaits the Blinn College football team this week.

Looking to even their conference record, the Buccaneers play host to New Mexico Military Institute for a Southwest Junior College Football Conference clash at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Cub Stadium in Brenham, Texas.

Blinn (2-1, 0-1 SWJCFC) tangles with the Broncos following a week in which the two ball clubs saw dramatically different results.?NMMI (2-2, 1-1) suffered a 48-23 conference loss to third-ranked Kilgore College, while the Buccaneers rolled past Transformation With Athletics College 89-6 at home.

“They’re a very good, very disciplined football team year after year, and our kids know that,” Blinn head coach Ryan Mahon said. “They do some things exceptionally well that we’ve tried to account for in our preparation this week, but if our kids understand what our reality is – that every game here on out is a big one – we believe we can get a foothold in this conference and get things going in the right direction.”

NMMI entered the season unranked but climbed as high as No. 10 in the NJCAA Division I. The Broncos have since fallen from the rankings, hindered by a propensity for turnovers.

NMMI’s offense favors the pass, with 136 attempts through the air compared to 112 chances on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Koby Muasau has amassed 1,041 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns, but he’s also thrown five interceptions. The Broncos also have fumbled the ball seven times and lost three.

Mahon said the Bucs will continue their focus on takeaways this week. Blinn has eight interceptions from seven different players this season, including two for sophomore defensive back Courage Ugochukwu. As a unit, the Bucs’ passing defense has allowed just 105 yards per game and three touchdowns. Blinn also has recovered three fumbles.

“They like to pass a lot, so we’re prepared to spread our defense out to defend them,” sophomore defensive back Maurice Evans said. “We trust (defensive coordinator) Drew Coleman to put us in the right position every snap, and we believe we have some of the best defensive backs in the country. So, it’s just about executing. We need to start fast and go out and hit them in the mouth right out of the gate.”

Blinn’s offensive bread and butter through its first three games has been its running game. The Bucs have racked up 904 yards on just 120 carries (7.5 yards per rush) to go with 17 touchdowns. Freshman Antonio Martin led the way with 298 yards on 40 attempts with a pair of TDs. The NMMI defense has allowed more than 160 yards on the ground per contest.

“They’re doing some things defensively that we haven’t seen before,” sophomore offensive lineman William Thursland said. “They run a 3-4 defense, but we’re preparing, and I don’t think it’s anything we can’t handle. We’re going to continue to run the football, which for us as offensive linemen is huge because we love driving people back and putting them down on the ground. We take pride in running the football and we’re ready to have some more success.”

NMMI won the national championship in 2021 and entered the 2022 season ranked No. 1 in the country. Blinn visited the Broncos in Roswell, N.M., last season and very nearly upset them in a tough 24-21 loss.

“We want to have success against them, but no matter who is on the other side of the football, you want to get a win no matter what,” Mahon added. “Getting this one in the bag sets you up for the rest of the season.”

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 44 NJCAA national championships since 1987.

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