By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Youth must be served, and Saturday afternoon the current Eastern New Mexico Greyhound gridders survived a scare at the hands of Greyhound alumni players 28-20 in the first annual ENMU alumni game at Greyhound Stadium.
“It was a little closer than I expected,” ENMU head coach Mark Ribaudo said. “But those are great guys we brought back here.”
Junior runningback Jason Walker averaged over 10 yards per carry on the ground, gaining 93 yards and two scores in leading the Hounds to 347 yards of rushing.
“This is the first alumni game we’ve had, so they really didn’t know what to expect,” Ribaudo said. “Until you’ve played against some of those greats — those are champions that walked out on that field and they’ve still got the fire flowing.”
In contrast to the current generation of Greyhounds, the alumni delivered their offense through the air, throwing for 238 yards on the arm of former Greyhound Heath Ridenour (’99-’02).
“That Heath Ridenour is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time here,” Ribaudo said. “I remember when he rushed for 295 yards against Kingsville — he still holds the single game rushing record here.”
Walker started the scoring with nearly three minutes remaining in the first quarter, breaking loose from the alumni defense and scampering 34 yards for the touchdown. The elder-Greyhounds pulled even midway through the second quarter as Ridenour connected with Corey White (01’-05) from 19 yards out.
The current Hounds took a 14-7 lead just before the half as junior quarterback Michael Benton found sophomore Marcus Robinson from the 24 yard line.
The youngsters extended their lead in the opening moments of the third quarter as Walker went off-tackle for an eight-yard score to take a 21-7 advantage.
A pair of Ridenour touchdown passes brought the alumni back to within one point in the second half. Fabian Contrerras (’99-’03) caught a 31-yard Ridenour lob to pull to within one score. Ridenour followed it up with a bullet to White that opened the fourth quarter and following a missed extra point attempt the Hounds trailed by a single point.
Robinson sealed the contest for the current Greyhounds with a 36 yard touchdown run late in the final quarter, as the Hounds won 28-20.
“It was a tremendous ball game,” Alumni coach and former ENMU defensive coordinator Glen Johnson said. “It’s a tremendous job to be able to lineup with athletes that mature and execute the things you need them to do.”
“I knew if they were in fairly decent shape that it was going to be a heck of a game,” Ribaudo said.
Josh Quebe (’01-’03) led the alumni receivers with seven catches for 80 yards, while White hauled in six balls for 97 yards and two touchdowns. Ridenour completed 16 of 34 passes for 238 yards and three scores.
ENMU hopes to continue the spring game annually.
“I think it’s a tremendous thing that they’ve started and It’s going to be tremendous for the football program,” Johnson said.