Mavericks fall short of Mines at Stocker Stadium
Frustration was setting in and tempers were beginning to boil over.
The Colorado Mesa University football team dug out of a big hole in the fourth quarter Saturday and had an opportunity to tie the game, but fell short to Colorado School of Mines 28-20 in front of 1,120 fans at Stocker Stadium.
“We’ve still got a little fire inside of us that makes us angry, but a loss like this is definitely a lot better than losses we’ve had,” Mesa quarterback Steve Romero said. “We all know we’re getting better and how we could’ve ended this game. That’s something to look forward to and hold our head high.”
The Orediggers (5-2, 3-2 RMAC) won the Nyikos Cup for the second consecutive year, but Mesa may be kicking itself for missed opportunities.
“We had to stay with things so things would open up,” Mesa coach Joe Ramunno said. “We started throwing the ball a little better and that opened up the run.
“We’re getting better, but we’re coming up short.”
Romero had a shot at completing a pass to Robert Felberg as he was heading to the end zone with 27 seconds left, but missed him by inches.
“That’s a pass I never miss,” Romero said. “It was wide open, fourth down, maybe I had too much adrenaline. Football is a game of inches and I missed by a couple there.”
The Mavericks (2-5, 1-4 RMAC) came up short on other opportunities, too. Mesa failed to score on three possessions inside the Mines 20, including one when the Mavericks attempted a screen pass on fourth-and-1 at the Mines 9 early in the fourth quarter.
“We gave up a lot of opportunities earlier and we should’ve converted and gotten more points on the board,” Romero said. “We’ve got to come through when we get down to their end zone. We’ve got to work on finishing.”
The incomplete pass was nearly intercepted. Mines took over on downs, keeping its 28-6 lead.
Mesa had trouble running the ball up to that point, but the running game started to open up on its next series.
Will Halboth broke loose for a 40-yard gain, setting up Jake Cimolino’s 1-yard touchdown run with 6:11 left, cutting Mines’ lead to 28-13. Cimolino rushed for 126 yards on 20 carries.
Romero connected with Nate Neville for a 86-yard touchdown along the Mines sideline on Mesa’s next possession with 3:54 left. Romero completed 27 of 47 passes for 326 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
“Steven got it over the top,” Ramunno said. “That was a huge play for us. We had great energy. That was a big lift.”
The Mavs’ defense, which pitched a shutout in the second half, came up with a couple of big plays.
Josh Andrews and Domonique Lewis sacked Mines quarterback Clay Garcia to force Mines to punt. Garcia completed 26 of 42 passes for 396 yards and one touchdown.
“We ran a blitz,” Lewis said. “Andrews got there first and made him scramble enough for me to get there.”
Mines linebacker Alex Vigil, the younger brother of former Mesa quarterback Phil Vigil, intercepted Romero near midfield with 1:29 left.
Mesa defensive end Connor Wright got the ball back 10 seconds later with a fumble recovery at the Mesa 49.
Cimolino ran for 12 yards and Felberg caught a 19-yard pass to get Mesa to the 20 until Romero’s pass to Felberg fell incomplete.
The Mavericks were forced to rally after falling behind 28-6 by the end of the first half.
Mines had 343 of its 485 yards in total offense in the first half, 268 in the air. The Orediggers converted 8 of 9 third-down chances in the first half.
“What we talked about at halftime is we were not playing our style of football,” Ramunno said. “We weren’t playing with a passion.
“We had a lot more (quarterback) pressure in the second half. We weren’t getting anything to him and Clay’s pretty darn good if you let him go down the field.”
Mesa lost two defensive starters and a key reserve to injuries, Trent deBraga (head), Jake Edmiston (knee) and Carter Janicki (knee).