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Monsters Slip by Artichokes

Two touchdown runs for over 70 yards, a safety, a missed kick that iced the win — if the season opener is any indication, the Fighting Gila Monsters are in for a wild year. Eastern Arizona College (1-0) defeated Scottsdale (0-1), 28-27, Saturday at John T. Mickelson Field. The victory came with just under 18 seconds left on the clock, when Scottsdale missed a 34-yard field goal that would have given the Artichokes the win. “I made the choice to force the play and not to ice the kicker with the clock moving,” EAC head coach John O’Mera said. “I took the chance to rush their kicker.” The kick — in wet conditions following a halftime rainstorm — was a line drive that went under the crossbar.

Running back Serge Trezy proved to be the difference maker for the Monsters, rattling off a pair of highlight film runs for scores. With 40.6 seconds left in the first half, and with EAC down 10-6, Trezy took the hand off, cut left through the hole and blazed his way 73 yards for the score. That gave EAC a 13-10 lead heading into the locker room at the half. Trezy then scored what proved to be the game-winner with 10:29 left to play in the fourth, when he ripped off a 75-yard scoring run. The extra point was good and gave EAC a 27-26 lead. “I feel pretty good about the game,” Trezy said. “I’m still getting used to the offense. But I have to give credit to the offensive line.”

Scottsdale took the early lead, scoring in the first quarter on a 5-yard out from Blake Decker to tight end Bradedon Bowman. An Artichokes field goal in the second quarter made it 10-0 but EAC was able to narrow the gap following a solid drive that included a Ker Sean Wilson 42-yard pass to Nehemiah Coward. Silas Jefferson capped the drive with a 2-yard scoring run. “It was a great night,” Jefferson said. “We stayed together as a team. No one was selfish and you got to love the O-line.”

The Monsters intentionally gave away points on their first possession of the second half, surrendering a safety. “Our kicker has a broken collar bone,” O’Mera said. “So rather than taking a chance with the backup kicking out of the end zone, we gambled on taking the safety.” The gamble paid off for EAC on its next possession, with Jefferson blasting off a 48-yard run, which was followed by a 10-yard scoring run by Paul Franklin to make the score 20-12 after the extra point.

The Artichokes scored on a pass play from Becker to Bowman to narrow the gap to 20-18. The two-point conversion try to tie was stopped by EAC’s Marion. But the Artichokes kept pressing the offense and finally regained the lead on a quarterback keeper and two-point conversion to make it 26-20 before Trezy had his second big scoring run. “I have got to give credit to our defensive coaches and players,” O’Mera said. “They really were the example of bend-don’t-break-it defense. “I got to tip my hat to Scottsdale they came in with a great game plan,” he continued. “We were fortunate to come away with the win. The big key for us was no turnovers — last year we had five. You have a chance to win if you take care of the football.”

The Gila Monsters remain at home for the next game, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m., playing host to Mesa Community College (1-0). Mesa defeated New Mexico Military Academy (0-1), 41-24, Saturday.

By Jay David Murphy sportsguy@eacourier.com

Eastern Arizona Courier