Defense lifts Mavs to victory
It was a much more enjoyable 12-hour trip back home this time.
The Mesa State College football team finally got to enjoy the road back home from Silver City, N.M., after defeating Western New Mexico 31-7 on Saturday at Ben Altamirano Stadium.
The Mavericks lost the past two visits there, and two years ago, lost running back Bobby Coy to a season-ending knee injury. Last season at home against the Mustangs, Coy sprained the same knee but missed only two games.
Saturday, Coy rushed for 160 yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead Mesa State (2-2, 2-0 RMAC). Quarterback Phil Vigil completed 13 of 24 passes for 250 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown to Justin Murray.
“We made some ground today,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “We had a good bonding experience. The ride home is a lot shorter after a win. I’m really proud of our coaches and the way the players responded. We did some good things.”
The Mavericks’ defense had a shutout going late into the fourth quarter and limited Western New Mexico (0-3, 0-2 RMAC) to 285 yards in total offense, including 37 rushing yards, and forced two turnovers.
“Defensively, we played lights-out,” Ramunno said. “We shut down every scoring opportunity until the last one. We played tough. They tried to run the ball early and were unable to do that. When we play like that, we’ll win a lot of games.”
The defense came up big when it stopped the Mustangs at the Mesa 4-yard line on fourth down after a 76-yard drive to preserve the Mavericks’ precarious 7-0 lead.
“The one on the goal line changed the game,” Ramunno said. “Our defense rose to the occasion. Coach (Bill) Stafford and (Darin) Robidoux did a great job preparing. The guys played with passion. You know good things are going to happen when you do that.”
Three possessions later, Mesa State went on a 68-yard drive and took a 14-0 lead on a Coy 8-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Coy scored again on the very next possession for a 21-0 lead, then Mesa State junior cornerback Woody Blevins intercepted a Chris Voller pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 8:47 left.
It was the second time the Mavericks intercepted Voller, who was eventually benched in favor of freshman Cody House.
House, who completed 6 of 14 passes for 68 yards, led the Mustangs on an 8-play, 59-yard drive resulting in a 12-yard touchdown pass to slotback Tramell McGill with 3:34 left.
Mesa State responded with a 26-yard drive and capped the victory with Jared Keating’s 41-yard field goal to wrap up the victory.