FAIRFIELD — It was almost gratifying for the Vintage football team to watch Armijo’s Damian Simpson please his homecoming crowd with an 86-yard touchdown run Friday night.
It was late in the fourth quarter with a running clock, thanks to the Crushers’ large lead, when the speedster finally got to showcase his breakaway speed. Held to 39 yards to that point, Simpson finished with a respectable 125 yards on 11 carries.
Vintage, despite being denied its second straight shutout, rolled to a 42-7 Monticello Empire League victory at Brownlee Field.
Doubling their previous best point total of the season, the Crushers (4-4 overall, 2-1 MEL) got three touchdowns apiece from Casey Jones (86 yards, 16 carries) and Markeis Reed (80 yards on nine carries), and a 6 for 6 night from kicker Andrew Carlile.
“We’ve been playing a whole lot better defensively, especially up front,” said Crushers defensive coordinator Jim Costan, whose team had blanked Rodriguez 21-0 the week before. “We knew that we had to stop No. 26 (Simpson). He’s their best athlete and we had to recognize everywhere he was on the field. That gave us keys on where the play was going to go. They really wanted to pound everything inside so that was our emphasis all night, to get our down linemen to get some penetration. We wanted to disrupt them before they could get their extra lineman up in the hole. We wanted to get in their backfield, force them to bounce out a little bit.
“We tried to make it real simple for them— let the kids play. And the last two weeks they’ve done a real good job of that. All the kids have improved with their techniques and fundamentals, and they’re starting to play like we thought they would a little earlier in the year.”
Armijo got the opening kickoff and marched into Vintage territory by converting on two fourth downs. But on the 12th play, Anthony Hernandez sacked quarterback Enrique Garrido-Ramirez for a 5-yard loss on fourth down at the Vintage 40.
The Crushers took just six plays to score, on an 18-yard burst up the middle by Reed with 3:18 left in the opening quarter.
After the Indians went three-and-out, Vintage took just eight plays — including Dylan Duprez’s 12-yard pass to Jonathan Lee — to go 54 yards, as Jones burst in over the left side from 5 yards out just into the second quarter.
Vintage went three-and-out on its next possession. But after the Crushers’ Austin Trosin intercepted a pass from Brian Weisz, Jones ran on all four plays of a 46-yard scoring drive, including an 8-yard TD run.
Down 21-0, Armijo gained some momentum with a 12-play drive kept alive by a roughing-the-punter penalty. It punted, but got the ball right back when Michael Wade intercepted Duprez at the Indians’ 44. But a sack by Caleb Tremblay and tackles for losses by Scott Premo and Hernandez halted the half-ending drive.
“Scotty Premo played a great game, the best game he’s ever played in his life,” Crushers head coach Dave Shipp said. “And he had a lot of enthusiasm and got the defense all fired up.”
Vintage made it 28-0 on its second drive of the third quarter in 10 plays, including Tremblay’s 20-yard catch and Jones’ 8-yard TD run.
“We’re working hard,” said Jones, a piece of adhesive tape wrapped around his forehead to protect a scratch he got during the game. “Our I-formation is working really well and so are our linemen. Without them it wouldn’t be possible. Now we’re going to work even harder.”
A seven-play, 49-yard drive capped by Reed’s 32-yard TD run up the middle made it 35-0. Just 13 seconds later, it was 42-0, as Levi Smith recovered a fumbled kickoff at the Armijo 5 and Reed burst in on the next play with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
“They’re excited. They’re playing well,” Costan said. “This is the first time in a long time that, at this point in the season, we’re at .500 (4-4 overall). We’ve had really good practices and they’re listening and working hard and they’re playing at a fast pace like we want them to.”
The Crushers will host Wood next week and, with a win, would become playoff-eligible.
“I was really happy with the team,” Shipp said. “They needed a win like this.”