Mavericks move up one spot in national rankings
Saturday’s 49-37 victory over Black Hills State accomplished a few things for the Colorado Mesa football team.
The biggest accomplishment was simply winning the game.
“As long as we got the ‘dub.’ It felt good to get back in the win column,” said senior cornerback Antonio Clark, who, with the aid of a brace, played the week after spraining his right shoulder, but came out of Saturday’s game with a broken left index finger.
“We got that bad taste out,” receiver Justin Brown said.
The victory also moved the Mavericks (5-1, 5-1 RMAC) up one spot Monday in the American Football Coaches Association rankings to No. 20. CSU-Pueblo’s rout of Adams State moved the ThunderWolves up two places to No. 12. In all, nine teams in Super Region 4 are in the top 25 this week, and two more are receiving votes. Of the ranked teams, all but Humboldt State (No. 25) are ranked above the Mavericks — seven teams will receive bids to the NCAA Division II playoffs. A regional ranking committee will determine those bids over the final three weeks of the season.
In the region, Minnesota State (6-0) is ranked fourth, Midwestern State, Texas, (4-0) is sixth, Texas A&M-Commerce (4-1) is 11th, Winona State, Minnesota (6-0) is No. 13, and the University of Sioux Falls (5-1) is No. 18. Eastern New Mexico and Azusa Pacific, the Mavs’ opponent in the final game of the season, are receiving votes.
The coaching staff, too, was happy with the end result, but as always, found things that need some polishing. The Mavericks put more emphasis on maintaining blocks (without holding) last week in practice and they’ll do it again this week in preparation for Saturday night’s game at Dixie State. Justice Jackson had a late touchdown called back on a hold that would have put the game away.
“Justice breaks that one here and we get a holding call,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “We’re going to get a first down on the last one (after the penalty, which would have allowed the Mavs to run out the clock) and we came up just short. If he stays on his block ...”
Martin reminded the Mavs after the game about the little things in the game all adding up.
“We have to keep taking care of the little things,” he said. “The little things and fine details sometimes make significant differences in the game. I kind of think that’s where we’re at. We’re doing so many good things, but we’re not finishing a couple of things to be perfect.”
Players of the week
Blake Nelson and Eystin Salum were selected the RMAC defensive and offensive players of the week, respectively, on Monday.
Nelson, a senior defensive end, recorded eight tackles, had 3½ sacks for 28 yards and four tackles behind the line of scrimmage for 29 more yards against Black Hills State. He also had two quarterback hurries and blocked one kick.
Salum, the Mavs’ junior quarterback, accounted for six of CMU’s seven touchdowns and 359 yards of total offense. Salum ran for touchdowns of 12, 54 and 5 yards and threw scoring passes of 40, 15 and 20 yards in the 49-37 victory.
Ritter wins award
Sophomore Sam Ritter was selected the RMAC volleyball setter of the week after back-to-back double-double performances last weekend, running her streak to six straight matches with 10 or more assists and digs. Ritter had 53 assists and 17 digs against CSU-Pueblo and 41 assists and 19 digs against New Mexico Highlands, both 4-1 victories. She also tied her career high with six kills against Highlands.