By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer
MELROSE — On a night when both teams struggle on offense, Springer more than made up for it with an opportunistic defense.
The Red Devils scored five defensive touchdowns, including four on fumble returns en route to a 44-6 win Friday over Melrose in non-district eight-man game.
Melrose (2-4) finished with nine turnovers.
“It’s just frustrating right now,” Melrose head coach Dickie Roybal said. “They came out and hit us and we backed down. That was the difference.”
Within the first three minutes of the first quarter, the Red Devils were up 12-0 when senior John Ramirez returned a fumble a 21 yards for a score.
“Defensively they might’ve outplayed us,” Springer head coach Michael Glasman said. “Except we got the breaks and the fumbles and the interception returns.”
Down 18-6 at halftime, Melrose had a chance to get back in the game when the Buffaloes recovered a Ryan Pena fumble at the Springer 43. But the drive stalled when Eric Walker’s fourth-and-9 pass was incomplete.
But Springer (5-1) scored 20 points final three minutes on third quarter on a pair of Pena rushing TDs and a Joseph Montoya 15-yard fumble return.
Ramirez’ 61-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter expanded the Red Devils’ lead to 44-6.
Junior running back Adam Hairgrove rushed for 84 yards on 15 carries for the Buffaloes and sophomore tailback Call Barnard added 64 yards on the ground,
Melrose senior quarterback Eric Walker went 3-for-13 for 44 yards and added 64 yards rushing. His 1-yard run early in the second quarter capped a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive.
John Ramirez went 6-11 for 141 yards and threw two interceptions. Pena rushed 90 yards on six carries and junior wideout Eddie De Herrera caught four passes for 66 yards.