YUMA — Seven yards. That’s how much net offense the Yuma Criminals generated in the second half of their game against the Southwest Eagles on Friday. Seven whole yards.
Add in first-half yardage and the Crims’ total swells all the way to … 66.
In related news, the Eagles won the game handily, 27-7, straightjacketing the Yumans at every turn to improve to 2-2 on the year.
Despite the smothering defensive effort, it took Southwest a while to assert full control over the contest.
The first half was a “punt-fest,” in the words of Eagle coach John Haines — and not a well-executed one at that.
Both the Eagles and the Criminals had punts blocked in the early goings, each taking advantage of short fields following the special teams stops to score their only first-half points, with Yuma getting on the board first with a 5-yard Erik Cervantes rush, and Southwest answering later on a 25-yard completion from Nathan Holguin to Joseph Enders Jr.
After the break, the Eagles were able to rev their engines a bit, finding a more sustainable rhythm in the running game (which was hampered by absences of regulars in the backfield and on the line) and scoring twice more through the air, with Holguin (final stats: 17-for-28, 132 yards, three touchdowns) finding Enders again from 30 yards out and Eddie Veliz from five.
Southwest’s final points also went to Enders, who returned a short punt 34 yards for another TD to cap an excellent all-around effort that included 10 receptions for 111 yards, with another 107 yards coming on returns.
As the Holtville Vikings and Central Spartans did before them, the Eagles committed to a game plan of attacking the QB at every down and distance versus Yuma.
“We brought it the whole game and moved the line around a lot,” said Haines, “The defense played high-effort football and was pretty much outstanding throughout.”
Alan Zermeno was the head of the spear for the Eagles on defense. The senior lineman finished the game with an impressive 16.5 tackles, two tackles for a loss, and 2.5 sacks — giving him 8.5 over his past three games.
Haines expressed pride in his team for, “showing the resilience and the maturity to make the necessary adjustments at the half,” but he knows their next game against CIF-SDS Division I Granite Hills will be a (much) stiffer test than 1-3 Yuma was.
It will be an Eagle fest on Friday as the two like-named squads square off in El Centro at 7 p.m.