By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Travis Hurd’s home wasn’t considered waterfront property.
Until this week.
Hurd’s hometown of Branford, Conn., was hit by superstorm Sandy on Monday.
“My parents called me the night before and told me this thing was going to hit around noon, so they might not have power,” he said. “But we had a little generator, so we were ready for it.
“Sandy hit us pretty hard, a lot of flooding in town, a lot of trees down, a lot of power lines down. My town won’t have power at least until Friday or Saturday.
“We had a hurricane (Irene) last year, and that hit us pretty bad, but we didn’t get flooding like this time. Irene was more on the coast, but this time it really came inland. I don’t live near water and there was flooding by my house, so it was definitely a lot different.”
Hurd, junior running back, provided an electrifying start for Missouri Southern last Saturday when he returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown at Lindenwood. It was the Lions’ first kickoff-return TD since Ne’Ronte Threatt also went 90 yards last season against Southwest Baptist, and it was Hurd’s second collegiate kickoff-return TD. He went 75 yards for a score against Delaware during his freshman season at Rhode Island.
“We had them schemed out,” Hurd said. “We knew where they were going to kick it. We knew how they were going to kick it. People executed their blocks, and the next thing I know I am running down there with five of my teammates to the left of me, bringing me into the end zone.”
Hurd found a seam, then had to break one tackle near midfield before getting his escort to the end zone.
“That was the kicker,” he said. “Definitely he was not going to get me.
“That is a real good feeling when I have five of my teammates around me ... I feel untouchable. We went up 7, and then you guys know what happened the rest of the game.”
The Lions followed Hurd’s return with an 80-yard touchdown march on their first offensive series for a 14-0 advantage, but Lindenwood ran off 31 straight points en route to a 45-30 victory.
Missouri Southern (5-4, 4-4 MIAA) plays its final two games at home. The Lions tackle Truman State at 3 p.m. Saturday in the John Ware Memorial Classic, named after the former head coach first at Truman (nine seasons) and then at Missouri Southern (a season and a half) before suffering a fatal heart attack midway through the 2005 season.
Hurd, 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, also scored on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter, giving him four TDs for the season to rank third on the team behind quarterback Kellen Cox (11) and slotback Threatt (6). Hurd averages 6.4 yards per rush and ranks fourth on the team with 262 yards on the ground.
“I think I have good vision,” he said. “I just try to set up my blocks. ... I just react to what the guy in front of me does. I try to be elusive, never get tackled by the first guy. That’s my motto.”