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#4 Eastern Steps Over Scottsdale

Forget stepping stones. Eastern Arizona College is climbing to heights its football program has never seen. The Gila Monsters, ranked No. 5 in the NJCAA, ran their record to 5-0 with a resounding 28-7 win over No. 20 Scottsdale Community College on the road Saturday night. EAC ran its record to 5-0, which is the best start at the school since 1955.

The Monsters’ defense harassed Scottsdale quarterback Jon Jones into completing just six of 20 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions. Quarterback Pat Riley ran all over the Artichokes’ defense, and he picked up 122 yards on nine carries and scored three touchdowns. The offensive line mauled Scottsdale, and the Monsters racked up 379 rushing yards on the night. Eastern scored on its first offensive possession of the game when Riley scorched the Artichokes for a 75-yard touchdown run. Running back Mike Smith would push the EAC lead to 14-0 in the second quarter after he ran the ball in from 13 yards.

The Monsters had a 14-0 lead at the half, but Scottsdale cut the lead in half in the third quarter when Jones threw a 37-yard scoring strike to Cody Bruns. Eastern quickly responded and went back up by two scores after Riley ran in his second touchdown of the night (a 13-yarder) to put the Monsters up 21-7. EAC put the game away for good in the fourth quarter when Riley galloped into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown.

The Monsters’ defense did not record any sacks, but it was in the Scottsdale backfield pressuring Jones for the entire game. Eastern cornerbacks Cedric Carter and Jay Grant each picked off Jones once. It was Carter’s third interception of the year. Smith gained 88 yards rushing on 16 attempts and scored a touchdown. Monsters head coach John O’Mera was proud of the way his defense shut down the Artichokes’ passing attack. EAC defensive coordinator Anthony Redding brought heavy pressure up the middle by blitzing the Monsters’ linebackers on nearly every defensive snap. Linebackers Dan Foster and Rico Brooks continue to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Brooks has registered 58 tackles and four sacks this season, and Foster has 44 tackles and three sacks. The Monsters’ defense has held opponents to an average of 239.4 yards of total offense through five games (185 rush yards and 81.4 pass yards).

On offense, EAC has spread the ball around well to its plethora of talented runners, but Riley and Smith have carried the biggest load. Through five games, Riley has 436 yards rushing and six touchdowns, and Smith has 377 yards and five scores. The Monsters moved up one spot to No. 4 in the latest NJCAA football poll. Eastern (5-0, 2-0 WSFL) takes on Arizona Western (0-4, 0-2) at home Saturday at 6 p.m.

Story written by Brian Wright, Sports Editor

Eastern Arizona Courier