CMU football team making progress
Colorado Mesa University won’t get any style points for its first football victory of the season Saturday, but head coach Russ Martin still saw the Mavericks take a big step in improvement.
The Mavericks committed a season-high 18 penalties for 191 yards and had four turnovers, but Martin said the Mavs are learning to finish.
“After looking at it, I was proud of the way the kids hung in there and played hard,” Martin said. “I think the best part for us: Our players believed we were going to win. That is a huge deal for us. We’ve been emphasizing learning to finish.
“It could’ve very easily been a standpoint they would’ve said we had it and dropped it again. What was nice was the whole offense went on the field with the expectations of scoring. There was no panic, but there was a sense of urgency, which is exactly what we want.”
QB makes most of opportunity
Junior quarterback Jason Haferman led the Mavericks on the game-winning drive in his first career start.
He completed 18 of 28 passes for 157 yards with three touchdown runs and one interception.
“Jason did a great job as a leader,” Martin said. “It would’ve been easy for him to get down after the very first series when he throws a pick. He was able to shake that off and keep coming.
“He’s getting better. One of the best things that emerged from that game was his composure on that last drive.”
Martin didn’t say whether Haferman would start Saturday’s homecoming game against New Mexico Highlands, but he could if Deke Cisco’s ankle injury sidelines him again.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.
Cisco hasn’t practiced since injuring the ankle against Chadron State.
“If Deke is ready both physically and mentally, we’ll probably start Deke,” Martin said. “If not, that’s OK.”
Tight end Drew Holder dislocated a shoulder in the game Saturday and probably is done for the season, Martin said.
“He was getting better and better every single week,” said Martin, adding his loss affects the position’s depth. “He was doing some tremendous things on special teams.”
Thomas Sua likely will start in his place if he’s cleared from a neck injury. He was being examined for precautionary reasons Tuesday, Martin said.
“We have a lot of injuries, but we’re not going to make a big deal of it,” Martin said. “If you count all the guys that should be on the field some, we don’t have near the depth offensively or defensively. We have very little depth on special teams. That’s one of the things a lot of people don’t realize: Why they wear down.”
The Mavericks have lost five players to season-ending injuries and four others are out in addition to Holder.
A lot of laundry
Eleven of the 18 penalties Saturday against the Mavericks came in the first half.
“We’ll continue to work with our guys on that, because that did hurt us,” Martin said. “There were about three of them I didn’t see in the game or the tape. I couldn’t find the penalty. A couple of those, I told our players, had no significance on the play, but I can also see why the official called it.”
For the most part, he said, the penalties were a result of players trying to do too much.
“The kind of penalties we’re getting are effort,” Martin said. “We weren’t having much false starts, illegal formation or offsides. That’s what we call mental penalties. We’re eliminating those mistakes. On the others, we need to make sure we’re playing better, moving our feet more and doing things smart.”
Black Hills State drew its share of flags: 10 for 75 yards.
Sophomore cornerback Jordan Price successfully defended three consecutive passes against him in the end zone to prevent the Yellow Jackets from scoring late in the third quarter.
Martin was especially encouraged by Price’s performance, because one week earlier Price was penalized for pass interference twice on Chadron State’s game-winning drive in the Mavericks’ home opener.
“What a phenomenal comeback,” Martin said. “They lined up in different formations, they isolated him, and they threw a fade to a bigger, taller receiver. Three times in a row, Jordan stayed right in his pocket, played the ball perfectly well, and each time he knocked the thing away. It was great to see him play that aggressive after what happened against Chadron.”
It was only a 17-yarder, but Alex Zemezonak’s game-winning field goal against Black Hills State was the biggest kick of his college career, netting the Mavericks their first win of the season and Martin his first win as head coach.
“I couldn’t miss it,” Zemezonak said. “It’s only a 17-yard field goal. The team put me in good position.”
The 5-foot-9 sophomore has made three of his past five field goals after missing his first two of the season at Humboldt State (Calif.) University.
“I was a little nervous the first game,” Zemezonak said. “I think I’ve settled in a little bit more. I’m starting to get the hang of it again.”
New Mexico Highlands comes in off a 42-37 victory over then-No. 18 Colorado School of Mines. Cowboys quarterback Emmanuel Lewis was the RMAC offensive player of the week, completing 25 of 45 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensive back DiAmaal Holmes made 18 tackles, 15 solo, forced a fumble and broke up a pass to earn RMAC defensive player of the week honors.