Mavs wear down in big loss to UNC

Northern Colorado’s Tromaine Dennis finds plenty of running room Saturday during the Bears’ 40-3 victory over Colorado Mesa. Dennis ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

GREELEY — For a half, the Colorado Mesa University football team hung with Football Championship Series team Northern Colorado.

The Bears, though, eventually wore down Mesa in a 40-3 victory in the hot summer sun Saturday afternoon at Nottingham Field. It was UNC’s first victory since the 2010 season.

“Defensively, we played well,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “We just had them on the field too long. Eventually, we’re going to wear down. We don’t have the depth that we need. We’ve got to make plays on the offense and special teams to keep the defense off the field.”

The Mavericks (0-2) struggled to put together drives, punting seven times and turning the ball over five times, including one on downs.

The Bears (1-1) limited Colorado Mesa to 192 yards of total offense.

“We weren’t able to get in any rhythm,” Martin said. “I give their defense some credit. Their linebackers are good. They have some good personnel. Still, we had some chances, but we didn’t execute. We had something up top (deep), but we took a sack.”

CMU redshirt freshman quarterback Deke Cisco completed 10 of 20 passes for 69 yards and was intercepted three times.

“I think he was pressing,” Martin said. “He wants to be successful badly.”

Northern Colorado made it tough on Cisco and the offense, forcing the Mavericks to start at or inside their own 25 nine times.

Colorado Mesa crossed midfield four times.

“The thing I’m most proud of is Mesa isn’t a one-dimensional team,” UNC coach Earnest Collins Jr. said. “They do throw the football. Sometimes you can get caught up when a team will try to cross you up and throw the football. We made them stay one-dimensional, which is running the football. If you can hold them to 100, 150 rushing yards, that’s a good day for you. You’re taking away what they really want to do.”

UNC took advantage of an interception and a short field for it’s only touchdown of the first half.

The Bears drive began on the Colorado Mesa 26-yard line and ended with a Tromaine Dennis running four yards for a 7-0 lead.

Colorado Mesa faced fourth-and-five at the UNC 43 on its next possession, but punter Mike Brady ran and was hit for a 1-yard loss.

“It’s a rollout punt,” Brady said. “We seal the edge. I thought we had the edge. We had one guy sneak through. One little thing kept it from going.”

“(Brady) has the option of kicking it or running,” Martin said of the failed fake-punt attempt. “We let someone in, and it was too late to punt it. I don’t blame Mike. It was the first time we ran it in a game.”

UNC moved into scoring territory and was knocking on the door into the end zone, but the Mavericks made the Bears settle for a 21-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead.

The Mavericks’ offense came back with a 48-yard drive resulting in a Alex Zemezonak 44-yard field goal.

It was all Bears in the second half.

UNC’s offense clicked on its first drive of the second half with a 46-yard pass for a score and a 17-3 lead.

The Mavericks’ offense caught its first break in the third quarter with a UNC pass interference on a deep pass from Cisco to Turmour Battle. Mesa couldn’t take advantage of it, fumbling on the next play. The Bears returned it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 23-3 lead. The point-after attempt was blocked.

“We had a good game plan,” tight end Robert Felberg said. “We couldn’t get anything going. There were a lot of opportunities we had. We need to take advantage of it.”

UNC’s Domonic Gunn returned a Mesa punt 67 yards into scoring territory, but the Bears settled for a 22-yard field goal and a 26-3 lead.

UNC fumbled on its next punt return, and CMU’s Trent deBraga recovered on the Bears’ 32.

The Mavericks failed to take advantage of the opportunity, going three and out. Zemezonak’s 44-yard field goal attempt was partially blocked to start the fourth quarter.

The Bears added two more TDs in the fourth quarter.


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