Mavericks take big strides on defense in win over Grizzlies

Colorado Mesa University quarterback Steve Romero, left, rolls out of the pocket Saturday to make a pass during the first half of the Mavericks’ win over Adams State at Stocker Stadium.

Adams State quarterback Trevor Eggleston tried many times to do what other quarterbacks did against the Colorado Mesa defense this season.

Eggleston didn’t have as much success as his predecessors against the Mesa freshman cornerbacks.

Instead of completing a big play for a first down or a touchdown against the Mavericks’ secondary, the secondary made the big plays against Adams State in Mesa’s 20-13 victory Saturday afternoon at Stocker Stadium.

Colorado Mesa limited Adams State to a 159 passing yards, a season low for the Mesa secondary. The Mavericks had the worst pass defense in all of NCAA Division II, allowing 332.8 yards per game entering the weekend.

“They’ve gotten better and better and made big plays,” Mesa coach Joe Ramunno said. “They’re playing the ball. Miles (Kochevar) is doing a good job developing those guys.

“They were very consistent. That’s what it boils down to, if you can do it consistently.”

Eggleston completed 16 of 38 passes and was intercepted three times. Two of the interceptions resulted in Mesa touchdowns.

Mesa defensive end Domonique Lewis intercepted Eggleston midway through the third quarter with Adams leading 13-7. A few plays later, Mesa scored to take a 14-13 lead.

One quarter later, redshirt freshman Travis McRae picked off Eggleston near the sideline and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.

Mesa’s other starting cornerback, Jordan Price, intercepted Eggleston with 1:30 left in the game, ending another opportunity for the Grizzlies.

Until Saturday, Price and McRae had experienced several growing pains.

Mesa’s first four opponents threw for more than 350 yards, resulting in three losses.

“You saw us week one, week two,” Ramunno said. “Jordan wasn’t quite playing. We were trying to break him in easier. We knew he had the talent.”

Mesa allowed fewer than 300 yards in four of the next five games entering Saturday’s game against Adams State.

The matchup didn’t appear to favor Mesa on paper.

The Grizzlies came in averaging 259.7 passing yards per game, third best in the RMAC and 40th best out of 150 teams in the nation.

Ten games into the season, the young Mavericks are growing up.

“We came out the start of the season, we’re a young secondary,” McRae said. “We’ve had tons of learning this year. It’s been a growing year for Jordan and I and the safeties. It’s been a learning experience week to week. I feel like we’ve become a better defense. You can tell even in practice, we’re coming together more.”


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