A fantastic finish
Big 4th-quarter plays by Tann, Anderson help Mesa beat Mines
Peter Anderson is fast.
Quick as a hiccup fast. Speedy Gonzalez, Roadrunner fast.
Twenty seconds and 82 yards, no-problem fast.
“I’m surprised they caught him, to be honest with you,” Colorado Mesa football coach Russ Martin said. “He’s fast.”
Only moments after Colorado School of Mines took the euphoria out of Stocker Stadium by scoring with 23 seconds left Saturday to take a 36-35 lead, Anderson had the place rocking again.
“I got the play call and I knew somebody was going to be open,” the sophomore wide receiver said after his electrifying 68-yard catch and run that set up Ryan Sheehan’s winning field goal on the final play of the 11th-ranked Mavericks’ 38-36 victory. “I didn’t know it was going to be me. From the snap, once I saw them drop, I knew it was going to be me.”
Anderson lined up on the outside of the Mavs’ three-receiver look on the left side and ran toward the middle of the field, turned at the Mesa 42 and caught a strike from Eystin Salum. With five defenders in the area, Anderson broke toward the left sideline and outran all of them, hurdling one Oredigger who tried to make a diving stop near the 20, then picking up a couple of more yards before running out of bounds at the 18.
“I saw the hole, got into it and ran. Once I saw Josh (Brown) pick up a block I decided to keep running until I couldn’t any more, and then I got out,” said Anderson, who caught four passes for 104 yards.
From the Mavs’ 18 to the Orediggers’ 14 in 12.3 seconds, plenty of time to run one play to center the ball and call timeout with 4.9 seconds for Sheehan, who drilled the 33-yarder as time ran out.
“We knew Sheehan, 100 percent,” said Brown, who had four catches for 120 yards. “We had no doubt he’d make that.”
The teams combined for 1,143 yards of offense, with Mesa (3-0, 3-0 RMAC) rushing for 310 and passing for 286. Mines (1-2, 1-2 RMAC) rushed for 177 and threw for 370.
Anderson’s catch was the third of three huge fourth-quarter plays for the CMU offense, which struggled to find any kind of rhythm. A lot of that was the Mavericks’ own doing with penalties that had Martin seething after the game.
“The third quarter they dominated,” he said of the Orediggers, who had the ball for all but 2 minutes, 31 seconds in the quarter. “Some damn stupid penalties. They’re not going to be the ones that kill us.”
A personal foul on the final kickoff return backed the Mavericks up to the 18 that set up Anderson’s big play.
“I’m telling the kick returners, get on your guys and set ourselves up with good field position,” running back David Tann said. “One or two plays, we’re in field goal range and we win the game. Plenty of time. We hurt ourselves a lot with penalties. We have to clean that up.”
After running only eight plays in the third quarter and netting 31 yards, the Mavericks gave up a 7-yard touchdown to Brody Oliver on the first play of the fourth quarter to fall behind 24-21.
Mesa drove to the 18 after that and lined up for a field goal, but a bad snap forced holder Austin Pitchford to try to pass from his knee. The ball fell incomplete, the Mavericks were called for holding, and the Orediggers took over.
On third down, Blake Nelson forced Ben Bottlinger to throw before he wanted to, and De’Angelo Lindsay had Riley Hoff defended, forcing a punt.
Someone on the sideline hollered, “Offense, we need you now.”
Salum hit Anderson for 9 yards on first down.
Enter Tann. After missing the entire third quarter trying to get the feeling back in his left hand after ulnar nerve was hit, he took the handoff, bounced to the right and sped 69 yards for a touchdown, giving the Mavs the lead again, 28-24.
“When it happened, my arm was locked like this,” he said, his hand clinched in a claw. “I had to hit the ball to get it out. My fingers were tingling and numb and burning like they were in a fire pit. I said, ‘Something’s not right.’ “
He was hurt on the final drive of the first half, and when he came back in the fourth quarter, his left elbow was padded and taped.
The defense held again, and on the first play from the 38, Tann took the ball on the right side, cut back to his left, raced across the field and into the corner of the end zone for a 35-24 lead with 7:43 to play.
Tann rushed 15 times for 197 yards and four touchdowns, and was constantly bouncing off Mines defenders to find holes.
“Comes out in the second half and plays phenomenal,” Martin said.
Salum, who ran for 72 yards and threw for 286, trotted in for Mesa’s first touchdown when he started right, reversed his field and was all alone for a 9-yard score in the first quarter.
After Mines cut it to 35-30 with 5:35 to play, a couple of first downs would have allowed the Mavericks to run out the clock.
Instead, CMU went three and out, setting up Mines’ 13-play, 91-yard go-ahead drive that seemingly snatched the Nyikos Cup out of the Mavs’ possession.
That was before Anderson showed why Martin loves the explosive receivers at his disposal.
“One play, we’re in field goal range and put the ball in Sheehan’s hands,” Tann said. “I’ll take that all day.”