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Monsters overpower Mexico All-Stars in historic Aztec Bowl
By Brian Wright
The emotions and significance of the football game Wednesday in Chihuahua, Mexico, were evident from the moment the Eastern Arizona College team burst on to the field at Estadio Olimpico holding the American flag high with pride.
The Aztec Bowl (technically the Chihuahua Bowl), was about more than just a game.
The game, however, went very well for the Gila Monsters. EAC walked away champions with a resounding 35-9 win over the Mexico All-Stars.
“The city is really is really enthusiastic (about hosting the game) and has put a lot of enthusiasm and money into this game,” Mexico All-Stars head coach Ernesto Alfaro said through an interpreter before the game.
“The city and the governor (of Chihuahua) want to continue this bowl game year after year.”
EAC running back Mike Smith started things off with a bang when he ran past the Mexico defense for a 69-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to give the Monsters a 7-0 lead.
Monsters halfback Tony Reid added a 15-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and Eastern led 14-0 at halftime.
A miscommunication on a snap gave Mexico a safety early in the third quarter and made the score 14-2.
Reid scored again on a 24-yard run in the third quarter and Monsters quarterback Stanford Leti connected on a 55-yard touchdown bomb to a wide open Andrew Berryhill to put EAC up 28-2.
Mexico scored its only touchdown of the evening on a 11-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Trejo to receiver Carlos Galvan in the fourth quarter.
Leti scored on a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter for the final score of the game.
Reid was awarded the Most Valuable Player trophy after the game after rushing for 130 yards and two scores.
“When they said MVP Tony Reid, it kind of caught me off guard,” Reid said. “I love it. It’s great. I’m holding the trophy right now, and it feels nice.”
He credited the strong blocking of the offensive line and the backs and receivers downfield for allowing him to put up the gaudy stats.
“The hosts were great, and they treated us nice,” he said. “The overall experience was excellent.”
“Our goal was to get to (and win) a bowl game, and now we’ve reached that, and we can chase our goal of being a national champion,” EAC head coach John O’Mera said.
“You have to give the Mexican team credit — they came out in the second half and got after us pretty good.”
When asked what he noticed the most about the Mexican team, he said “their heart.”
“They didn’t quit,” he said. “They were going to play until the last second.”
O’Mera couldn’t have been happier about the entire trip to Chihuahua. “It has exceeded the expectations,” he said.
O’Mera talked about how great it was to play at the beautiful new stadium in Chihuahua, and he also said how nice it was for the locals to have treated the team so well during the trip.
It was the first-ever bowl victory for EAC, and the Monsters reached 10 wins for the first time in school history.