Mavericks win again on road
If it was a test of character, the Mesa State College football team passed.
After losing their first RMAC game of the season, their starting tailback and offensive team captain to injuries, the Mavericks found a way to win on the road again.
Mesa State won its third road game of the season Saturday night, defeating Colorado State-Pueblo 21-13 at the ThunderBowl in Pueblo.
“We had to fight for it,” Mesa State coach Joe Ramunno said. “We faced adversity all week and did some good things.”
The Mavericks (4-3, 4-1 RMAC) did it with a strong running game without Joey Applehans, who broke his left ankle in Mesa’s 23-17 loss to Colorado School of Mines, and a steady passing game led by Michael Mankoff.
The redshirt freshman started for the first time in his college career and played the entire game. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 148 yards. He threw one touchdown and two interceptions.
“Michael stepped in and did a great job,” Ramunno said. “He threw the ball well and did a great job leading the team.”
Sophomore Will Halboth successfully took over the running duties and finished with a career-high 25 carries for 138 yards in his first start. J.R. Hamm had six carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns.
“Will ran like a champ,” Ramunno said. “J.R. did as well. We are blessed with good backs.”
The ThunderWolves (3-4, 2-3 RMAC) had some success running the ball, led by Jesse Lewis with 14 carries for 106 yards, but fell behind and couldn’t catch up.
Hamm scored on 25-yard touchdown with six seconds left in the first quarter to cap an 11-play, 72-yard drive.
Hamm gave the Mavericks a 14-3 lead on a 17-yard run on their next possession. Mankoff completed passes to Ryan Polosky and Chernoff on the drive.
CSU-Pueblo scored on Johnny Wood’s 4-yard touchdown run with 6:46 left and trailed 14-10.
Mesa State moved into scoring territory just before halftime, but Michael Sweeney’s 29-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Chase Vaughn.
Mankoff hit Seth Damron for a 5-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to go up 21-10.
CSU-Pueblo cut Mesa’s lead to eight points with 6:29 left on Kyle Major’s 43-yard field goal, and then intercepted Mankoff.
Mesa’s defense answered. Derek Thorne sacked Colin Clancy on third down, but with three minutes left, the ThunderWolves had to go for it on fourth-and-16 on their own 49. Clancy found Demetrius Gilmore for a 51-yard score, but Clancy crossed the line of scrimmage, turning the ball over to Mesa on the penalty.
“We had some pressure on (Clancy), but he spun out of there,” Ramunno said. “It was a very exciting play, but he was 3 yards past the line. We were fortunate in that respect.”
Pueblo used all three of its timeouts and forced Mesa to punt with 2:11 left.
Mesa’s defense came through again when senior captain Aaron Silverthorn intercepted Clancy with 1:24 left.
Clancy completed 13 of 28 passes for 138 yards and one interception.