Everybody has heard the saying that football is a game of inches. That old saying came to life Saturday night at Mickelson Field at Eastern Arizona College.
The Gila Monsters found themselves with their backs against a wall with 46.7 seconds left in the game after Scottsdale running back Cole Fischer scored on a 1 yard touchdown run to cut the EAC lead to just one. The Artichokes chose to go for the win with a two-point conversion try. SCC quarterback Albert Howard faked a hand-off and sprinted out to his left to what looked like a wide open running lane but before he crossed the goal line EAC defensive end Elign Griffin hit and tackled Howard inches shy of the score and preserved the 28-27 win for Eastern Arizona.
Scottsdale came into the game leading the Nation in passing yards per game as well as touchdowns thrown. Quarterback Kare Lyles owned all of those numbers in the first 6 games for the Artichokes. He didn’t play a down Saturday. Instead the fleet of foot Albert Howard was in the lineup. He gave the Monsters fits with his running ability, something they didn’t prepare for in practice last week.
Howard started the scoring on the first drive of the game when he connected with receiver Josh Daniels on a go route down the right sideline for a 38 yard score to take a 7-0 lead. Both teams traded possessions for the next 8 minutes before EAC blocked an Artchoke punt and then were able to get big fullback Xavian Hampton loose on an 11 yard TD to tie the game at 7 apiece at the end of the 1st quarter.
Hampton added another rushing touchdown to start the 2nd quarter and the Monsters extended their lead to 13-7. Neither team could get the offense going as they traded 3 and outs for the next 14 minutes and it appeared the teams were content to head to the locker room to dry off and warm up. Then Howard called his own number for the ‘Chokes and scrambled for a 19 yard TD with 9.7 seconds left to seal the lead and the momentum with a 14-13 lead. Scottsdale onside kicked the ensuing kick and EAC recovered it at the SCC 47 yard line, setting up the final play of the half. Eastern inserted QB Toa’ MauMau who heaved a perfect spiral down the left sideline into the hands of a leaping Quandre Mosely who hauled in the pass at the two yard line and dove to the pylon as time expired for the only completed pass of the game. Wilbur Cooper added the 2-point conversion and EAC took a 21-14 lead into the locker room.
Scottsdale tied the game at 21 with 4:50 to play in the 3rd quarter. That was the only points either team would put up in the quarter. EAC added a third Hampton TD with 13:44 to play in the game taking a 28-21 lead before Scottsdale drove 96 yards to set up the final sequence.
The EAC defense held Scottsdale to 109 passing yards, 200+ yards below their season average. However they gave up 247 yards rushing for a total of 356 yards. Eastern only totaled 213 yards in the win.
“We definitely had some luck on our side tonight,” said Eastern Arizona head coach John O’Mera.”Elgin(Griffin) made a big play on the goal line, he stopped him(Howard) just inches short. What a great game.”
Eastern will be at home next Friday, October 19th for a matinee kickoff. They will host Arizona Christian JV at 2pm.
The Gila Monsters move to 4-0 in the WSFL and 6-1 overall.