By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
As the saying goes, defense wins championships. For Eastern New Mexico University, it was more than enough to win a scrimmage.
A veteran Greyhound defense showed experience mattered as it ran up a 42-3 halftime lead, and settled for a 57-51 win in the team’s Green-Silver Scrimmage after a second half that was extremely favorable to a young ENMU offense.
With the university’s athletic department more tasked on the baseball team’s playoff fortunes this weekend, no yards or tackles were tracked for the game, the ending point of ENMU’s spring football season.
Instead, a scoring system gave the offense a point for each first down plus all of its offensive points, and the defense got points for stops (1) three-and-outs (2), turnovers (6) and defensive touchdowns (8).
The defense, wearing Green, mostly abandoned the blitz and played a Cover-1 throughout the second half, which helped the Silver squad find a little offensive rhythm and score touchdowns on four consecutive possessions.
“It was very, very frustrating,” said receiver Jesse Poku, whose 8-yard reception from J.J. Harp started the scoring. “The defense blitzed well, we didn’t have time to (complete plays). They brought a lot of heat.”
And a lot of seniority, coach Mark Ribaudo said.
“The defense had a good day,” Ribaudo said. “The defense has older players, they’ve got junior college players. The offense? There’s not a senior out there.
“You can see glimmers of real potential, and more glimmers than we saw last season.”
After a 4-yard rush by Tony Valenzuela and Harp throws to Darian Dale (7 yards) and Matt Handler (40) for scores, the defense got back to its pressure and registered interceptions on four of the next five possessions.
“I thought we blitzed really well today, but you’ve got to give some credit to the defensive backs,” linebacker Rashad McCalister said. “They came up with some really good picks on third and long situations.”
With a combination of some unscored defensive plays and a 21-yard touchdown reception by Dale, the Silver cut it to 51-50 and tied it on a first down before Clovis native Devin Sweet pulled down an interception near the right sideline to close out matters.
Though the defense is well ahead of the offense — even more than is normally expected for spring football —