Mavericks can’t deliver knockout punch against No. 21 Chadron
For the second consecutive season, Colorado Mesa’s football team had Chadron State on the ropes, but couldn’t finish the Eagles.
Chadron State, ranked 21st in the Division II coaches poll, rallied to defeat the Mavericks 30-24 on Saturday afternoon at Don Beebe Stadium in Chadron, Neb.
“It was frustrating from our standpoint,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “We’re disappointed. We felt we had a chance to come up here and get a win.
“The kids played hard. For the most part, they played well, but we have higher expectations than this. We’re not settling for moral victories anymore. We’re getting closer and it shows. We are capable of contending for the RMAC championship.”
The Mavericks (1-2, 0-1 RMAC) intercepted Chadron quarterback Jonn McLain three times, but the offense struggled to do anything with them, scoring only three points off the turnovers.
Mesa was 9 of 20 on third-down conversions (45 percent) and had 11 penalties for 93 yards.
“We had some opportunities in the red zone and got penalties and had to settle for field goals,” Martin said. “We need touchdowns.”
Colorado Mesa redshirt freshman Kyle Duran completed 15 of 27 passes for 157 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Duran scored on a 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
Jake Cimolino had 34 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown. Ricky Trinidad rushed for 49 yards on 13 carries.
McLain completed 20 of 31 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns and three interceptions. Glen Clinton rushed for 138 yards.
Colorado Mesa came out poised to get its first victory over the Eagles in 10 years with a Eli Williams 22-yard field goal on its first series. Williams handled the kicking duties with Tanner Donahue left home for disciplinary reasons.
Chadron State (2-1, 1-0 RMAC) fumbled the kickoff and the Mavericks recovered. Three plays later, Cimolino scored on a 5-yard run. The point-after attempt failed, but Mesa led 9-0.
The Eagles moved the ball deep into Mesa territory, but McLain was intercepted by junior safety Travis McRae. Mesa was unable to move the ball and had to punt.
The Mavs capped a 69-yard drive with a Duran 4-yard touchdown run for a 15-0 lead. Duran started the drive with a 19-yard pass to DJ Hubbard.
Chadron answered with a 74-yard touchdown drive. Chapman Ham caught a 13-yard pass from McLain for the touchdown.
Mesa and several more scoring opportunities, but settled for field goals. Williams made a 22-yard attempt with 5:14 left for an 18-7 lead.
The Mavericks had a chance to run out the clock in the first half, but went three plays and out.
The Eagles got in field goal range in the final minute and Randy Wentz converted a 40-yard attempt to cut Mesa’s halftime lead to 18-10.
The Mavericks grabbed the momentum back right away in the second half when Fruita Monument graduate Cody Daniels intercepted McLain on the first play from scrimmage.
Daniels returned his first collegiate interception 19 yards into scoring territory. The Mavs settled for Williams’ 25-yard field goal and a 21-10 lead.
“We had a chance at the start of the second half, but we had a penalty or two and had to settle for a field goal,” Martin said.
“We need to put a team like that away when you get an opportunity.”
Chadron came back with a McLain 8-yard TD pass to Nathan Ross to cut Mesa’s lead to 21-17.
The Eagles came back with their third 70-plus-yard touchdown drive to take a 24-21 lead with 4:17 left in the third quarter. This time, Cody Roes scored on a 21-yard pass from Patrick O’Boyle, who came in for one play for McLain.
Mesa added its fourth field goal of the game on Williams’ 32-yard attempt to tie the game.
On the Mavs’ next possession, they committed four penalties and were forced to punt out of their own end zone.
Chadron scored on its first play from scrimmage when McLain connected with Ross for a 38-yard TD. The point-after kick missed, but the Eagles led 30-24.
Mesa senior safety Michael Brady intercepted McLain one more time, but the Mavericks had another penalty and turned the ball over on downs.
Jordan Price was injured on the play. He will be evaluated early this week, Martin said.
“I told the team this one is past,” Martin said. “We’ll learn from it so that we don’t walk off the field disappointed again.”