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Monsters Fall to Glendale in Opener

THATCHER — The first regular-season game for the Gila Monsters came early this year and delivered a loss courtesy of the Gauchos. Glendale defeated Eastern Arizona College, 28-0, Saturday at John Mickelson Stadium.

“It started with special teams,” EAC coach John O’Mera said. “They got the momentum and we weren’t able to get it back. Then we hurt ourselves with penalties at bad times. We have to be able to pass early.” It took nearly the entire first half before the first special teams’ breakdown occurred. With 90 seconds left in the second, Glendale’s Terry Juniel took a punt almost 90 yards for the first score of the game. Patrick Murry split the uprights with his kick to make it 7-0, Glendale, at the half. “I just had to make the first one miss,” Juniel said. “And my defense did all the blocking. The credit goes to the return team.

The Gauchos used the width of the field to keep Eastern’s defense in pursuit and the EAC offense on the sidelines. Eastern showed signs of offensive life in the first series in the second half with five straight first downs to only stall out on the 15-yard line. “We have got to make the most out of our opportunities,” EAC quarterback Ryheem Dixon said. “I take most of the blame. I have to step it up and will.”

That’s when the second special teams’ breakdown occurred, this time a bad snap on the field goal try, which led to a block for the Gauchos. “We could have had a little momentum,” O’Mera said. “We played a lot of guys, which led to a lot of mistakes. Now we go to film and fix them.”

Late in the third quarter, Braden Jenkins ran his first of two touchdowns on the night for the Gauchos from one yard out. With the good extra point, that made the score 14-0 in favor of Glendale. Dixon put the ball on the turf on the 30-yard line just two plays into the fourth quarter, leaving Glendale with great field position. The Gauchos scored two plays later on a 22-yard run by Roland Genesy. With another extra point kick by Murry, Glendale took a commanding lead, 21-0.

Jenkins got his second touchdown and the team’s final score of the night after taking the ball up the middle three consecutive times.

“I thought we’d be better offensively,” O’Mera said. “Our defense played well and the staff had them ready to go. But they were just on the field too long and they let a couple by late. But they are a real positive for us.”

EAC (0-1) will be on the road next Saturday night in Tucson, to take on Pima Community College at 7 p.m. Pima defeated Phoenix College 36-19.

Story written by Sports Editor Jay David Murphy

Eastern Arizona Courier