Cisco, Mavs’ offense show growth in loss

The maturation of the Cisco Kid took another step forward.

Deke Cisco, Colorado Mesa University’s redshirt freshman quarterback, rolled to his right late in the first quarter. The Chadron State defense had his path blocked.

His head up, eyes scanning downfield, Cisco reversed back to the left and saw Austin Rodriguez all alone down the left sideline.

Pitch. Catch. Touchdown.

“I was supposed to roll out, but I saw the lane on the back, so I cut back, and when I saw the lane, he was at the end of it, waving his hands, so I just threw it to him,” Cisco said of the 69-yard scoring play that tied the game 14-14. The Mavericks (0-3 0-1 RMAC) lost 41-30 to the Eagles (2-1, 1-0) at Stocker Stadium, but twice rallied from 14 points down to tie or take the lead.

Chadron’s defense followed the flow of the play, allowing Rodriguez to get free. All he had to do was make sure he caught the ball, because there wasn’t a defender within 20 yards of him.

“That’s kind of what was going through my head, catch it and go,” said Rodriguez, who caught the ball near the 30 and headed for the end zone. “I think they just kind of lost me in their coverage. They must have thought Deke was going to take off and run it, and they kind of forgot about me. I just kept running, and Deke saw me at the last second.”

The Mavericks showed they’re grasping their third offense in as many years, playing for their third offensive coordinator in that time.

“The coaches did a good job keeping things easy for me,” Cisco said. “It’s really simple, so it’s not like the offense is too complicated. They made it something I can run, so it’s nice.”

Cisco, who rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown and threw for 109 yards and one score, is getting a better feel for when he can tuck behind his offensive linemen and run the ball and when he needs to hand off to Jake Cimolino (67 yards, one touchdown).

He completed six of 14 passes with one crucial interception in the end zone after the Mavericks blocked a Chadron State field goal. The Mavericks were down one, 28-27, with just more than three minutes to play in the third quarter when he was picked off.

“Deke is growing each week, he’s getting better each week, and we need him to keep getting better,” CMU coach Russ Martin said.

Cisco injured his left ankle trying to wedge in for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter from the one.

“When we were down there, someone grabbed it and twisted it,” Cisco said. “I don’t know what happened; I heard a weird noise.”

He hobbled off the field when the Mavericks sent in the field goal unit, which gave them their first lead of the season, 30-28, but Chadron answered with touchdowns on their next two series.

Down 41-30, Cisco rolled to his right, and his ankle wobbled. He hopped a couple of steps on his right foot, throwing an incomplete pass, and was replaced by Jason Haferman.

“Whenever I pushed off it, it just gave out,” Cisco said.

The Mavericks showed progress, Martin said, just not enough.

“We’ve got to make sure we eliminate our mistakes. I think we were better on doing some of that,” Martin said. “That’s a very good defensive football team that we played, and I think our kids are starting to see when we play well and focus in, we can be a very good football team, but we still have to step over that line.”


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