Monsters Remain Perfect
Thatcher, AZ --
A celebratory mood permeated the air at Eastern Arizona College’s John Mickelson Field on Saturday night. It was homecoming, and the 8-0 Monsters overcame a shaky start to trounce the Pima Community College Aztecs 45-13. EAC (9-0, 6-0 WSFL) wasn’t especially sharp (it lost six fumbles), but the Monsters made up for that sloppiness with a punishing running game. Eastern’s offensive line has made things look easy this year, and Saturday was no different. The Monsters rushed for a school-record 579 yards en route to their ninth victory of the season. The Monsters did most of their damage in the second quarter, and kicker Steven Holmes nailed a 27-yard field goal right before the half to stretch EAC’s lead to 31-7. EAC quarterback Pat Riley scored on a spectacular 70-yard touchdown run with four minutes left before the half. Pima almost corraled Riley in the backfield, but left guard Joel White-Frisbee blasted an Aztecs defender to free Riley, and the Monsters quarterback made several other players miss on his way to the end zone.
Pima kept it close early and cut the EAC lead to 14-7 when receiver Malcolm Shepard caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Morgan. Eastern head coach John O’Mera said the Pima coaches had their team fired up and ready to play the Monsters. “Anytime you wear the No. 4 (ranking) on your back, you’re gonna have people come after you,” he said. The first points of the night were scored on a 57-yard run by Riley early in the first quarter. Did he believe this Monsters team could be undefeated after nine games? “Every year, whatever football team I’m on, I always believe in my team and believe in what we’ve got,” Riley said. “If you don’t believe in the next man, and (he) doesn’t believe in you, then you ain’t gonna make it far. You have to come together and believe as one.” Riley finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries.
Running back Darious Jackson was the leading rusher with 179 yards rushing and three scores. The Aztecs had no success running the ball against the Monsters’ defense. They gained just 29 total yards on the ground. Defensive end Devlin Bayne only played a little over one half of football, but he made his presence felt with seven tackles and three sacks. Standout linebacker Rico Brooks accounted for 15 total tackles and a sack. The Monsters turned the ball over six times (all lost fumbles), and they know they must protect the ball much better if they hope to beat No. 1 Snow College on the road Saturday. “I guess we need to get some glue on our hands,” O’Mera said. “We can’t do that next week, because it won’t be the same (result). “(The Snow game) will come down to special teams and who makes the least amount of mistakes.” The winner of that game will likely get a chance to play in the national championship game, so the stakes couldn’t be any higher. EAC has risen to the challenge at every turn this season.
Story written by Brian Wright, Sports Editor
Eastern Arizona Courier