Lewis comes up big on defense in Mesa’s win

By Domonique Lewis’s standards, it wasn’t his best game.

The preseason all-RMAC defensive end for Colorado Mesa University had only one tackle.

Bottom line, though, he was on the field for the Mavericks’ 36-12 RMAC victory over Fort Lewis.

Lewis pulled his right hamstring on the third day of camp this summer, then re-aggravated it first week of September, setting him back five more weeks.

“It’s been the hardest time of my life, the most trying,” said Lewis, a 6-foot-2, 255-pound senior from Salt Lake City who has been a mainstay on defense his entire career. “I know how to stay (mentally) strong, but that’s easier said than done.

“Gosh, I just kept thinking of my teammates, and it’s my senior year.”

He was cleared to play last week at Western New Mexico, but he said his body didn’t feel ready.

“I needed a full week of practice,” Lewis said. “Before last week I’d only had three practices in nine weeks. That’s not good.”

His target date to return after the second hamstring pull was Saturday, and after practicing all week, he was ready. Rusty, but ready.

Even though Lewis made some mistakes, he helped put pressure on Fort Lewis quarterback Tim Jenkins and helped keep the defensive linemen fresh.

“He did a nice job on things,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “By having that, it’ll keep our guys fresher, and we can generate more rush. In the second half I think you could see that. We got more pressure on the quarterback in the second half because I don’t think guys were as tired.

“It’s important to get him some reps back in there. There were a couple of times he was in the wrong gap, but that’s coming back, and it’s his first game back into it. It was great having him back in there.”

Lewis, who dropped 25 pounds in the offseason by lifting weights, running and eating better, didn’t participate in spring football because he had only one semester of eligibility remaining.

Missing spring ball with a new coaching staff and being off the field for the first eight weeks of the fall season set him back.

“It’s hard, but you try to take mental reps,” he said of learning Todd Auer’s defensive scheme. “The biggest thing is trying to stay focused. It’s easy to fall through the cracks, but my teammates did a good job keeping me up. I really hit the playbook this week and made sure I’d do things right.”

After chasing Jenkins across the field with about six minutes to play in the game, Lewis felt a twinge in his right leg. He wasn’t about to take any chances and took himself out.

“Toward the end there was a sharp pain, so I thought I’d call it good,” he said, insisting his leg is fine. “Your body sends those warning signals, it’s time to get out.”

It was time to get out, so next week he’s back in the rotation against Colorado School of Mines, another game the Mavs’ defensive linemen know they’ll spend chasing an elusive quarterback. The Orediggers’ Matt Brown leads Division II in passing.

With another week of practice — and a lot of icing and some rest today — Lewis figures more rust will get knocked off.

“I wasn’t too thrilled with how I played personally, but at the end of the day, I’m back,” he said with a big smile. “It’s a personal victory.”


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