Turnovers plague Mavericks late in loss to RMAC rival
ALAMOSA — Mesa State College let another team hang around.
This time it could cost the Mavericks dearly.
Adams State College scored a touchdown with 10 seconds left Saturday to defeat Mesa State 30-27 at Rex Field.
“We had plenty of opportunities to finish it off and didn’t do it,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “It’s hard to lose when you’re where we are at, but it’s a part of the game.
“You have to give credit to Adams. They battled. They played tough. We failed and they took advantage of their opportunities.”
As a result, the Mavericks (6-3, 6-1 RMAC), who are ranked 25th in the D2Football.com poll, will need to win their last two games and get some help to win the RMAC title outright and more help to qualify for the NCAA playoffs. Mesa hosts No. 13 Chadron State (8-1, 7-0 RMAC) at noon Saturday at Stocker Stadium.
“You’re not going (to the playoffs) if you’re not in the top six, and you’re not going up (in the regional rankings) if you lose,” Ramunno said. “Who knows? Anything can happen, but we could’ve controlled our own destiny. Now, we can’t.”
Adams State (3-6, 3-4 RMAC) mounted a 12-play, 45-yard drive in three minutes, one second and scored when quarterback Stephen Baca completed a 3-yard pass to senior Tyree Walton on Senior Day for the game winner.
Two plays before that, Baca ran for a first down to the 3 on a fourth-and-1.
“We called a QB draw,” Baca said. “We ran it two or three times in the game and I’d get a good five yards. I knew if I got a seam I could get it. The offensive line did a good job getting a push off the ball. It worked out for us.”
Mesa State’s Sean Matheson returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to the 45 and an Adams penalty gave the Mavs the ball at the 50, but with only two seconds left.
Mesa tight end Maurice Manley, who sat out to rest a sore shoulder, came in for the final play and quarterback Phil Vigil heaved the ball in his direction.
Adams State knocked the ball down in the end zone.
The Grizzlies’ defense, ranked 11th nationally, limited Mesa to 298 yards in total offense and forced the
Mavericks to go three-and-out their last three possessions to stay in the game.
“They changed their whole perspective of the game,” Adams State linebacker Levi Gallas said. “They started running, trying to run the clock out and get out of the game. Our coaches were expecting it so we started pounding and pounding them.”
Mesa State did the pounding early, putting together an eight-play, 73-yard drive on its second possession to take a 7-0 lead on Bobby Coy’s 26-yard run.
Coy finished with 136 yards and two touchdowns to break the Mesa State single-season rushing record.
Justin Murray caught a 70-yard pass from Vigil on the Mavs’ next drive for a 14-3 lead.
The Mavericks, though, turned the ball over on their next two possessions.
Adams State kicked a field goal after a Mesa fumble, then rover Bryant Williams pulled in a tipped pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. The Grizzlies went for two on the point-after, but the run failed, keeping the Mavs up 14-12.
“Turnovers is what cost us the game,” Ramunno said. “We’ve been flirting with them way too much.”
The Grizzlies took a 15-14 lead on Dustin Bolt’s 33-yard field goal before halftime.
Mesa came out in the second half and regained the lead on a 35-yard field goal by Jared Keating.
Coy put the Mavericks up 24-15 with a 13-yard touchdown run, but Adams came back on an 81-yard touchdown catch by Josh Gibson to cut the lead to two, 24-22.
“It was getting scary,” said Gallas, whose dad, Dan, coached Grand Junction High School. “I started seeing reminders of the Chadron game, but the offense really stepped up. Stephen Baca and the O-line played a hell of a game. They got that one score on us early. I thought we were digging a hole for ourselves, but the offense had our backs for once.”