By: Warren Younger
Mesa Community College came into the game against Eastern Arizona on a two game win streak in which the defense completely took over.
Eastern Arizona has been one of the best teams in the nation on the ground.
The fifth game of the season saw an unstoppable force meet an immovable object and in this battle the force broke through as the T-Birds lost a 31-21 battle against EAC.
EAC was the first team to get on the board as running back Tim Cook rushed for a three yard score early in the first to take a 7-0 lead.
But the T-Birds struck back as quarterback Austin Apodaca threw a ten yard strike to WR Marquise Coleman with four minutes to play in the quarter to tie the game up at seven all.
The second quarter saw the T-Birds break the tie with another touchdown from Austin Apodaca, this time to wide receiver Tyler Eggars to put the T-Birds up 14-7.
EAC did not falter on the next drive as they ground pounded all the way down the field and ended up with a four yard touchdown run from running back Rayheem Dixon to tie the game with ten minutes left in the half.
No more scores were recorded in the rest of the half and the game went into halftime tied 14-14.
The rest of the game was EAC domination as the Monsters run game overpowered the Mesa defense.
Tim Cook took the ball for a 21 yard touchdown run with 11 minutes left in the third to give EAC a 21-14 lead.
They never looked back as the game remained 21-14 heading into the game’s final quarter.
In the fourth quarter EAC extended their lead to 24-14 behind Nathan Pierpoint’s 23 yard field goal.
The game’s deciding play happened with 9 minutes left in the game when Cameron Walton scooped up a fumble on the T-Birds 34 yard line and took it in for another touchdown giving EAC a 31-14 lead and putting the game out of reach.
The T-Birds put up one more score when Apodaca threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Garrete Craig to make the score 31-21 with 34 seconds to play.
The loss dropped the T-Birds to a 2-3 record with three games left in the season.
EAC had 410 yards rushing with only nine yards passing.
When asked why he thought his team struggled to contain the EAC run game, head coach Ryan Felker responded by saying it was lack of execution.
“Getting ready within a week for an option team is a very hard thing to do. We felt good about our game plan and the execution of it,” Felker said. “They have speed on top of speed and being able to recruit the fastest kids in the country with full-ride scholarships starts you off with an uphill battle.”
When asked about his team’s mentality heading towards the playoffs Felker said that it has been a challenge.
“After placing over 25 players into four-year schools from last year’s team. We knew that it was going to be an uphill battle with only having one returning starter on offense and defense,””
“We are young on defense and we took playing against that speed as a lesson learned and we hope to get a chance to redeem ourselves in the playoffs,” Felker said.
The top four teams move to the playoffs and MCC sits a game behind Glendale for the final spot.
Apodaca also had a couple words to say.
“We are basically just trying to win one game a week. At this point, we can’t worry about what other people are doing, we just need to worry about getting better and trying to win each week from here on out.”
Austin Apodaca finished the game with 208 yards passing with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Carlton Williams had 18 rushes for 103 yards on the ground.
Marquise Coleman led all T-Birds receivers with 72 yards receiving and a touchdown.
The T-Birds look to get back on track against New Mexico Military before getting a week off, after which Arizona Western comes to town on the Oct. 11.