Defense and special teams took over the game for the New Mexico Rush on Saturday as they scored 25 second-half points to defeat Rio Grande Football League Eastern Division opponent, the West Texas Outlaws 31-7 on Saturday.
The Rush got off to a slow start as Outlaws cornerback Corey White intercepted the very first pass of the game to set up a short field. West Texas capitalized as quarterback Tim Davila found receiver Larry McClendon for a 31-yard touchdown on their first play to give the Outlaws an early 7-0 lead.
“We came out, gave up the first score on a busted coverage, but perfect play call,” Rush defensive captain Trae Ivory told DFUSA. “Then, I went over there and got in them and we didn’t give up no more points the rest of the game.”
Later in the first quarter, a muffed punt by Outlaws cornerback Adrian Adame gave the Rush the football on the Outlaws four-yard line, where the Rush would punch it in after three plays, but a missed extra point kept the Outlaws up 7-6 – a lead they carried into halftime.
After halftime, the Outlaws were driving until cornerback Michael Perez intercepted his second pass of the day and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown, to put the Rush in front 12-7.
“He brings a lot,” Ivory said. “He plays running back and defensive back. He’s got a lot of swag to him, I like it. I’m a pretty good judge of talent and he’s a pretty good talent and young too.”
On the Outlaws next possession, the Rush defense – led by linebackers Ivory and DeMario Walker – stood tall forcing a West Texas (1-2) punt, which Rush running back Travis Wilkinson took 60 yards for another New Mexico touchdown to extend the lead 18-7 and bring the home crowd to its feet.
“Offense came along and started scoring some points, we got some points off of turnovers and special teams,” Ivory said. “All of the phases count.
“I knew at that moment (we would win), any time you can get points on special teams. Special teams is more important than any other phase of the game. If you can get points on special teams, it don’t matter how much of a defensive battle it is. The team that can score is going to come out on top.”
It was all New Mexico from that point as both Wilkinson and Lopez added one rushing touchdown each to put the game away for the Rush.
“They’re outstanding kids, ballers,” head coach Paul Lopez told DFUSA. “One is a state championship kid and one ran the ball for three years here in Carlsbad, good scat back. They get better as the game goes along and those are the best kind of backs.”
The Rush (2-1) host the West Texas Pride (2-0) next Saturday.