By Chris Dell Staff Writer

For the second game in a row, the Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers struggled to find consistency on offense. This week, however, they were not fortunate enough to escape against New Mexico Highlands, which won 26-24 Saturday at Ranger Field.

The Rangers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, turning the ball over five times, four of them on fumbles, committing 13 penalties for 120 yards.

The Rangers looked to be on their way in the first half, dominating the first quarter and the first part of the second quarter, jumping out to an 18-9 lead, taking advantage of two Cowboy fumbles.

But the tide turned with 4:23 left in the first half and the Rangers on the Cowboy 20 when quarterback Bryan Henry threw an interception to Cowboy defensive back Eddie Porto, who returned the ball to the NWOSU 13.

Three plays later NMHU punched the ball in on a Ronnie Simpson 9-yard pass to Michael Pennetta.

The Cowboys continued to grab momentum, shocking the Rangers by attempting and recovering an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff.

NMHU would drive the ball for a score 10 plays later, and would take the lead at halftime 26-18.

NWOSU retaliated in the second half on a B.J. Hodshire blocked punt after the NMHU's first possession.

DeMarko Jones scored three plays later on a 5-yard run.

But that would be all either team would manage.

NMHU dominated possession of the football in the second half, out-numbering the Rangers on offensive snaps, 50 to 27.

Running back Odie Armstrong single-handedly carried the Rangers through the first half, carrying the ball 15 times for 108 yards, including a 53-yard dash.

Armstrong carried the ball only three times for no yards in the second half.

"It had nothing to do with second-half strategy," said Slaughter. "We just executed (passing) better in the second half. ... Our offensive coordinators called a great game."

Jones dramatically improved throwing the ball, finishing with 83 yards on 8 of 12 passing, splitting time with Henry, who finished 4 of 10 for 45 yards.

The Rangers will need to improve next week when they face Southern Nazarene, which entered Saturday tied with the Rangers for the lead in the Central States Football League.

"Every game is important," said Slaughter. "But (Southern Nazarene) has a little bit more to it because it's a conference game."

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