Mesa State turns back clock, rumbles past Fort Lewis
Saturday night wasn’t exactly like the old NAIA days, but the Mesa State College football team had a performance like some of those games.
The Mavericks, wearing throwback uniforms of maroon jerseys with yellow numbers and yellow pants, dominated Fort Lewis in a 35-13 RMAC victory at Stocker Stadium.
“We like them,” Mesa State junior Ryan Polosky said of the uniforms. After scoring the first touchdown of his Mesa career. “It gave us a little boost. We have new lockers and new unis. We should keep them and wear them at least once a year.”
That’s Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno’s plan.
“Way back when we were purchasing the new jerseys for this year, Butch (Miller) and I were talking about doing a thing to celebrate our alumni and honor (former coaches) like Jack Perrin and Bob Cortese.
“I know Perrin brought these in. They had written a letter to USC and USC sent them their seconds (old uniforms) and Mesa used them. That’s why we did that. We wanted to pay tribute to those guys and the alumni.
“I think we’ll wear them in special games.”
Homecoming was certainly special. The Mavericks (3-2, 3-0 RMAC) put up 397 yards of total offense, 204 on the ground and limited Fort Lewis (1-4, 0-3 RMAC) to 264 yards in total offense.
“Our defense did some great things,” Ramunno said. “The stats are a little lopsided there at the end, but we wanted to get some guys in there.”
Mesa State scored on its first possession when Phil Vigil ran for a 28-yard touchdown.
The Mavericks held that 7-0 lead into the second quarter when their special teams created a scoring opportunity.
After Mesa defensive lineman Tony Kelly sacked Fort Lewis quarterback Dave Nieman to force fourth and long inside the Skyhawks’ own 20, redshirt freshman Chad Benkelman blocked Mark Meng’s punt, turning the ball over to Mesa.
“I came out and did my job,” Benkelman said. “Tony’s sack was huge.”
The Mavs wasted no time scoring, with Bobby Coy running it in from 22 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
Mesa State’s defense got involved in the scoring when linebacker Spencer McAdoo pulled in a tipped pass and returned the interception 22 yards for a touchdown for a 21-0 lead.
“It was almost like a punt return,” McAdoo said. “I saw three maroon blurs out of the corner of my eye and trusted it, so I cut back and got lucky to score.”
The Mavericks’ offense took advantage of a Fort Lewis late- hit penalty with less than two minutes left in the first half, putting them at the Fort Lewis 20. Three plays later, Maurice Manley caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Vigil for with 18.7 seconds left for a 28-0 halftime lead.
Fort Lewis opened the second half with a 90-yard drive, ending with a 2-yard touchdown run by Nieman, but
Daniel Bannister’s point-after attempt hit the upright and Mesa led 28-6.
The Mavericks responded with a 77-yard drive that resulted in a field goal attempt.
Mesa lined up to kick, but Polosky, who was holding for Jared Keating, ended up running the ball in the end zone.
“I’m going to be honest,” Polosky said. “I didn’t get (the ball) down. It slipped, then I heard guys yelling ‘someone’s coming.’ I was able to cut it up (the middle) and cash in.”