By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
BLACKWATER DRAW — Youth must be served, and Saturday afternoon the current Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds survived a scare at the hands of an Alumni squad to win 28-20 at Greyhound Stadium.
Junior running back Jason Walker gained 93 yards on nine carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, helping the Hounds pile up 347 yards on the ground.
“It was a little closer than I expected,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said. “But those are great guys we brought back here.
“This is the first alumni game we’ve had, so they really didn’t know what to expect. 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 Greyhounds, the alumni delivered most of its offense through the air. Quarterback Heath Ridenour (1999-02) threw for 238 yards and three scores — all to Corey White.
“That Heath Ridenour is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time here,” Ribaudo said. “I remember when he rushed for 294 yards against (Texas A&M-)Kingsville — he still holds the single game rushing record here.”
Walker started the scoring late in the opening quarter, breaking loose from the alumni defense and scampering 34 yards to the end zone. The Alumni pulled even midway through the second quarter as Ridenour connected with White, a cornerback at ENMU from 2001-05, from 19 yards out.
The Hounds took a 14-7 lead just before the half as junior quarterback Michael Benton found sophomore Marcus Robinson for a 24-yard touchdown pass. They extended the lead in the opening moments of the third quarter as Walker went off-tackle for an 8-yard score to make it 21-7.
A pair of Ridenour touchdown passes — a 31-yarder to Fabian Contrerras (1999-03) and another strike to White — pulled the alumni to within a point early in the final stanza. But Tim Spearman’s PAT kick failed, keeping the Hounds in front.
Robinson added the final touchdown a 36-yard run late in the final quarter.
“It was a tremendous ball game,” Alumni coach and former ENMU defensive coordinator Glenn Johnson said. “It’s a tremendous job to be able to line up with athletes that mature and execute the things you need them to do.”
Ribaudo echoed those sentiments.
“I knew if they were in fairly decent shape that it was going to be a heck of a game,” he said.
Josh Quebe (2001-03) led alumni receivers with seven catches for 80 yards, while White hauled in six balls for 97 yards. Ridenour, a Lovington alumnus, completed 16 of 34 passes for 238 yards and three scores.
ENMU hopes to continue the alumni game in future years.
“I think it’s a tremendous thing that they’ve started and It’s going to be tremendous for the football program,” Johnson said.