Penalties cost Mavs in loss to Adams State
The Mavericks controlled the clock and produced more offense, but hurt themselves with penalties and turnovers.
The Mesa State College football team had 11 penalties for 119 yards and committed four turnovers. Together, it led to another Adams State victory over Mesa State, 19-12, on Saturday at Stocker Stadium. It was the Grizzlies’ fifth win in their past six games against Mesa.
“Our turnovers put them in a short field,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “Defensively, we did some things very well. We’re trading field goals, but we couldn’t get ourselves going. Turnovers and penalties took the wind out of our sail. This is a hard one to swallow.”
The loss also cost the Mavericks any hopes they had left of winning the RMAC title.
“We’ve got to play for some pride, our institution,” Ramunno said. “We’ll keep preparing. We’ll continue to do the same things. We do have a lot of youth on our team and fortunately we’ll have two more good weeks to get experience.”
Adams State (4-5, 4-3 RMAC) converted three of the four turnovers into 13 points, including an interception returned deep into Mesa territory that set up a go-ahead score.
Otherwise, Mesa State controlled the game.
The Mavericks (5-4, 5-2 RMAC) had 116 more yards in total offense than Adams State and held the ball longer (34½ minutes to 25½ minutes). Mesa’s defense limited Adams to 2 of 13 on third-down conversions as well.
The Grizzlies’ defense, though, made the plays that led them to victory.
Adams State converted two early Maverick turnovers into two field goals and a 9-0 lead before Robert Felberg sparked the Mesa offense.
The redshirt freshman hit Justin Murray for a 17-yard touchdown pass with two minutes left in the first half.
“They’re designed for that with the 3-5 (defese),” Ramunno said. “They move guys around. They do a good job running it. They’ve been solid with it. We knew we’d have some challenges. We knew that Rob would fit going against them a little bit better than Michael just because the way their defense did things.
“(Felberg) did some good things with his feet. We had to try to get them out of the box. They would bring nine guys. We weren’t able to run like what we thought we would be able to do unless we spread them out a bit.”
Another Mesa redshirt freshman, Justin Brown, tied the game when he blocked a punt out of the back of the end zone just before halftime.
Mesa took the momentum into the second half, when punter C.J. Smith completed a 15-yard pass to Derek Thorne on fourth-and-six.
The Grizzlies grabbed the momentum right back, however, when Adams cornerback John Williams intercepted Felberg two plays later and returned it 38 yards to the Mesa 16.
Adams freshman quarterback Travis Eggleston made it sting with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Stephen Baca for a 16-9 lead.
“Anytime you change momentum like that is big,” Adams State coach Marty Heaton said. “They convert on the fake punt, but our kids made a big play. What could’ve been a bad situation turned into a good situation for us.
“That was a huge play by John. It was his first pick of the year and came at the right time.”
Mesa appeared to answer with Felberg’s 32-yard pass to Matt Anthony in the end zone, but a holding penalty negated the play. It was one of four holding penalties on the Mavericks. Instead of tying the game, Mesa settled for a 45-yard Michael Sweeney field goal attempt, but it was wide left.
“(The holding penalties) hit us at crucial times,” Ramunno said. “They took the wind out of our sail.”
The Grizzlies added a field goal on their next possession for a 19-9 lead.
Mesa took over with two timeouts and 4:27 left in the game.
The Mavericks were able to get to the Adams 20 without using a timeout, but could only get a Sweeney 37-yard field goal with 1:28 left.
Mesa’s onside kick was recovered by the Grizzlies, who played conservative, keeping the ball on the ground.
The Mavericks took over with 18 seconds left, but ran out of time with no timeouts remaining.