Eastern New Mexico University wide receiver Derrick Hunter is wrapped up by cornerback Michael Clark during the second half of Sunday’s Green & Silver game at Greyhound Stadium. Photo by Eric Kluth
By Dave Wagner
BLACKWATER DRAW — If it seemed the Silver team had things its way in Eastern New Mexico University’s annual Silver & Green spring football game, it struck ENMU defensive tackle Reggie Ellis that way too.
With probable starting quarterback Michael Benton and first-team All-Lone Star Conference South Division wide receiver Derrick Hunter leading the way, the Silvers scored twice before the Green team even had the ball and cruised to a 35-7 victory on Sunday at Greyhound Stadium.
Benton threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the first 18 minutes, and it was left to Ellis and his teammates on the Green squad to just make the best of the situation.
“They had all the playmakers,” said Ellis, a sophomore-to-be from Irving, Texas. “We just didn’t get anything going in the first half.
“We had a few mental errors that cost us, but I felt everybody did a good job.”
Benton, who will be a redshirt sophomore, completed 8-of-14 passes for 107 yards, including TD tosses of 20 yards to Zach Gerleve on the first possession and 18 yards to Hunter, who caught four passes for 52 yards. After the Silvers’ first score, they recovered a windblown free ball on the kickoff at the Green 34-yard-line and needed only four plays to score — a one-yard run by Benton for a 14-0 lead after less than four minutes.
“That took a lot of wind out of their sails,” said Benton, who also rushed for 38 yards. “I don’t think (the Green team) ever recovered from that.”
Mark Ribaudo, beginning his first season as ENMU’s head coach after eight years as an assistant, said the Greyhounds made a lot of progress during the four weeks of spring football.
“Overall, we’ve had a pretty productive spring, and I was pretty pleased,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but we still have quite a ways to go.
“I was very pleased with some of our skill positions on offense; I thought the running backs on both sides of the ball ran hard, especially the fullbacks. And our offensive lines did the best job of protecting the quarterbacks that they have all spring.”
After overnight and early-morning showers, the day turned sunny but chilly — not all that unlike a fall afternoon.
The idea was to make the contest as close to game-like as possible.
“Intensity-wise, it was pretty close to a regular-season game,” said Ellis, who was in on four tackles, including two for losses. “It’s not as competitive as the regular season, but it’s close.”
Playing against friends and teammates takes a little of the edge off, he conceded.
“I think when we get into a regular game against an opponent, our competitive level will be turned up a notch,” Ellis said.
The final two quarters were shortened from 15 minutes to 12, and the Silver team didn’t add to its 28-7 halftime lead until redshirt freshman running back Lance Fikany scored on a 19-yard run with 21 seconds left.
“We got to see a lot of people in game-like situation,” Benton said. “We just jumped out to a big advantage.
“The Green team did a good job, though. They held their composure all four quarters.”
Quarterback Rocky Hartline went over from a yard out for the Green’s only score with four minutes left in the half, but Fide Davalos got that one back for the Silvers on a 35-yard TD run late in the period.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Dominguez broke a 63-yard run early in the third quarter, but fumbled out of the end zone for a touchback when cornerback Corey White caught him from behind just shy of the goalline.
Green linebacker Tony Johnson was in on a game-high 10 tackles, including seven solos.
ENMU spring game
Sunday at Blackwater Draw
Silver 35, Green 7
Silver 14 14 0 7 — 35
Green 0 7 0 0 — 7
S — Zach Gerleve 20-yard pass from Michael Benton (Lee Price kick), 12:05
S — Benton 1-yard run (Price kick), 11:11
S — Derrick Hunter 18-yard pass from Benton (Price kick), 12:09
G — Rocky Hartline 1-yard run (Christian Coronado kick), 4:00
S — Fide Davalos 35-yard run (Price kick), 1:25
S — Lance Fikany 19-yard run (Price kick), :21
A — n/a.
First downs 23 7
Rushes-yards 51-345 32-210
Passing yards 148 0
Total yards 493 210
Comp-att-int 9-17-2 0-6-1
Punting 4-40.0 6-32.7
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties-yards 10-35 1-31
RUSHING — Silver, Fide Davalos 7-93, Robert Garza 11-68, Fikany 8-52, Sukora Cooper 7-39, Benton 7-38, Gerleve 2-29, Hunter 5-27, Peter Juve 4-minus 1. Green, Patrick Hemphill 8-79, Brandon Dominguez 6-68, Hartline 9-37, Less Long 4-31, Coronado 1-1, Jason Tezeno 4-minus 6.
PASSING — Silver, Benton 8-14-1-107, Juve 0-2-1-0, Hunter 1-1-0-41. Green, Hartline 0-5-0-0, Dominguez 0-1-1-0.
RECEIVING — Silver, Hunter 4-52, Gerleve 2-61, Garza 1-15, Davalos 1-10, Tristan Selmon 1-10. Green, none.