Colorado Mesa tops Adams State in wet battle on senior day
It was the type of game die-hard football fans love.
Colorado Mesa University survived a defensive slugfest in the cold, wet conditions Saturday afternoon for its first home victory of the season on senior day.
The Mavericks defeated Adams State 20-13 in front of 798 at Stocker Stadium. It was the Mavericks’ first win against Adams State since the 2007 season, when Mesa State qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs.
“We needed a victory like that,” Mesa coach Joe Ramunno said. “You can’t wave a magic wand. You have to continue to persevere. We’ve really come of age. That’s a good football team we beat. If they don’t turn the ball over (the Grizzlies) can be undefeated.”
The Mavericks (4-6, 3-5 RMAC) forced Adams State to turn the ball over four times, leading to 13 points and the victory.
Mesa defensive end Domonique Lewis intercepted a tipped pass in Adams territory to set up Steve Romero’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Zach Adair with 2:02 left in the third quarter for a 14-13 lead.
“We knew what we wanted and we knew we’d have him one-on-one,” Romero said. “He got a little bit jammed. I gave him a tough ball to catch the only place he could catch it. He laid out nicely for it, rolled over so there was no question about it. We’ve been working on that play all season. It was about time we actually connected on it.”
Adams State (5-5, 3-5 RMAC) moved the ball deep into Mesa territory again and attempted a 24-yard field goal. It was blocked by Mesa linebacker Jake Bruno.
“That was a huge play,” Lewis said. “It definitely swung the momentum in our favor.”
Mesa’s defense came through again with 2:04 left in the game when Travis McRae intercepted Trevor Eggleston on a pass near the sideline and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Caleb Pavy missed the point-after attempt, giving the Grizzlies another chance, down seven with two minutes left.
“I had a good read, pressure by the defensive linemen and I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” McRae said. “Once I had it in my hands, all that registered in my mind was taking it to the house.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, coming off to the sideline and the team cheering you on is indescribable.”
Mesa’s defense answered again. This time, Price intercepted Eggleston’s pass at the Mesa 25.
The Mavericks’ offense couldn’t get a first down and had to punt again, despite efforts to run out the clock.
Adams State took over on its own 41, but Connor Wright hurried Eggleston and McRae and Price broke up passes to the intended receivers to run out the clock.
The Mavericks built a 7-0 lead on a 78-yard game-opening drive.
Romero completed two passes to Tanner Whaley to set up his 1-yard touchdown pass to Austin Rodriguez. Whaley caught a 25-yard pass and a 30-yard pass on the drive.
Mesa moved the ball deep into Adams territory again on its next drive behind a Jake Cimolino 28-yard run, but Adams State’s defense stuffed Will Halboth for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1.
“We came ready to go,” Ramunno said. “We get it on the second drive too, but we went for it and I should’ve just taken the points.”
Adams State came back with a field goal early in the second quarter and was on the Mesa 1 about to score a touchdown on its next possession when Terjean Saffold fumbled the ball attempting to score. Mesa freshman Jordan Price picked up the loose ball in the end zone, dodged the quarterback and was gone for a 100-plus yard touchdown return.
More than 25 yards behind the play, Trent deBraga was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after making a block. Instead of a touchdown, Mesa took over on its own 32.
“They said (deBraga) pointed at him,” Ramunno said. “I wasn’t very happy with that. I tell you what, deBraga is as good as they come.
“The way it was called, you see it going on all the time then you’ve got to call it all the time.”
Adams State shut down Mesa’s offense the rest of the way, limiting the Mavericks to 193 yards of total offense and 10 first downs.