By Michael V. Hannigan
TVCC put an old fashioned second half whuppin’ on New Mexico Military Institute Saturday afternoon on the way to a 36-10 win in its season opener.
To point out how overpowering the Cardinals were in the second half, I present three defensive numbers: 2, 21 and 0.
That is how many first downs, total yards and points NMMI generated in the second half. The Cardinal defense throttled NMMI after halftime.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback Jeremy Hunt was introducing himself to Cardinal fans by throwing for three touchdowns. Hunt ran the iconic Cardinal fast break offense to perfection, connecting with 13 different receivers for the game.
And just to point out that this was a dominate performance across the board, kicker Eddie Godina hit for three field goals including one from 46 yards.
This was a big win for the Cardinals not just because it was a conference game or their season opener. This was big because of the way they won; with a suffocating defense and a fast, prolific offense.
So while the band plays and the Cardettes dance, here are some observations from the press box.
— Count the linemen … the Cardinals mixed up their defensive fronts, switching between four-man and three-man lines. The tactic seemed to confuse the NMMI offense and led to constant pressure, particularly in the second half.
— Great debut … Jeremy Hunt’s first game as a Cardinal was one to remember. He was 26 of 38 for 341 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The interception came in the end zone during the first half or the score could have been even more lopsided.
— My ball … Nice job by Jaeden Ward recovering an NMMI fumble early in the fourth quarter.
— Lots of receivers … when the TVCC offense is working at its best the quarterback spreads the ball around. Saturday, the Cardinals had 14 different receivers catch a pass. For those trying to balance this with Hunt’s numbers, remember QB Riley Russell got some snaps and went 2 of 6 for 41 yards. Here is the receiver breakdown:
• Kenota Fiakpui, three for 63 yards.
• Trai Gardner, three for 29 yards.
• Keshaun Fisher, three for 25 yards.
• Kyle Wakefield, four for 48 yards.
• Deshon Moreaux, two for 64 yards.
• Jamon Mack, two for 24 yards and a TD.
• Kerrion Fields, two for 28 yards.
• Greg Clayton, one for 16 yards.
• Nate Shelton, two for 11 yards.
• Willie Cherry, two for 15 yards and a TD.
• Dwight Walker, one for 3 yards and a TD.
• Carson Schleker, one for 26 yards.
• Bryan Litt, one for 32 yards.
• Zion Hester, one for 9 yards.
— Attack the QB … the Cardinal defense got sacks from Cody Davis, Joren Dickey and Keshawn Jackson.
— The DANG stat … when you are covering a game for the purpose of writing a story, you almost always wind up with a ton of individual offensive stats and very few defensive ones. It is just the nature of the beast. So to make up for that a little bit I offer the DANG stat for those defensive plays that just make you sit up and say, “Dang!” Cardinal defenders who made me do that this week included the entire defensive line, Jaiden Dockery, Kamauria Kenny, Ty Taylor, Joshua Sanders, and Marques Williams.
The Cardinals will be at Bruce Field again next Saturday, Sept. 7, to take on Tyler Junior College in an important conference game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.