RIO RANCHO – For a change, the New Mexico Stars got off to a fast start during a Lone Star Football League game. Not to mention having a fast finish.
And, also for a change, they beat the archrival Amarillo Venom for the first time in their brief history.
On Saturday night at the Santa Ana Star Center, the third-year Stars (2-3) rode seven touchdown throws by embattled QB Andrew McGlory, who also rushed for two TDs, and two pick-sixes by University of New Mexico alum Marcus Smith to a resounding 70-49 victory over the two-time defending champions. There was an announced crowd of 1,315.
It was the first time in five meetings New Mexico has prevailed against Amarillo over the past two seasons.
“No victory is easy and we had to work for everything,” Stars coach Dominic Bramante said while accepting congratulations on the field immediately after the game. “We’re going to enjoy this tonight, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We go to Amarillo in two weeks (after a bye), and they are going to be tough.”
The Stars took a 14-8 lead in the first quarter when Smith scored on a 32-yard reception from McGlory. And it was on the Venom’s next two possessions that the ex-Lobo got the back-breaking defensive scores of 33 and 46 yards, which came against ex-Stars QB Brendan Crawford, who also had three TD passes.
“The line put good pressure on the quarterback and I just read his eyes,” Smith said.
He later had a third interception, but was quickly slammed to the turf.
“Oh, man, on that one a lineman was right on me and I didn’t have a chance to get away,” he said sheepishly.
Venom co-owner Toby Tucker didn’t sound surprised over the startling turnaround from Week 1, when Amarillo won 63-21 in the Star Center and New Mexico committed seven turnovers.
“We have a lot of young guys,” he said,” and (the Stars) didn’t make any mistakes this time.”
Actually, New Mexico made two, but they weren’t costly in the long run – fullback Roosevelt Falls lost a fumble at the Amarillo 3 in the fourth quarter and McGlory pitched a pick-six two possessions later. But the latter score only shaved the Stars’ lead to 52-35 with 11:14 left.
“(McGlory) led us to victory, we’ve got to give him credit for that,” Bramante said of the player he tried to replace in the starting lineup this week. “He’s got to relax this week. Those two defensive scores helped.”
A week earlier, McGlory drew the ire of Bramante by throwing 24 incompletions in a 56-34 loss at San Angelo.
On Saturday night McGlory’s was 21-for-29 for 282 yards. Joining Smith on the receiving end of McGlory TD throws were Jerome McGee (9, 35 yards), Roland Bruno (32, 10 yards), James Cleveland (13 yards) and lineman Levi Horn, who caught a 7-yard tackle-eligible with 29 seconds left. He said it was his first touchdown since high school.
The victory also fanned the flames of the Stars’ playoff hopes in the five-team league, with the top three reaching the postseason.
The Stars not only picked up a game on Amarillo (2-2), but also on San Angelo (3-2), which entered the day in a tie for first with idle Rio Grande Valley (3-1). The Bandits lost 40-33 to West Texas (1-3).
N.M. FLAVOR FOR VENOM: Lorenzo Murphy, a 6-6, 300-pound lineman from Eastern New Mexico, and Kevin Myers, a 6-5, 380-pounder from New Mexico Highlands, played for Amarillo.
NEXT HOME GAME: New Mexico’s next game in the Star Center is May 17 against Rio Grande Valley. Three weeks ago, the Stars visited the Sol and lost 69-39.
GONE: Daryl Robinson, the league’s special teams player of the week two weeks ago and a defensive stalwart for the Stars, has left the team. He returned to Philadelphia to care for his mother, who had surgery Wednesday.