Mavs’ ‘D’ plays well in scrimmage

Mesa St RB #20, James Hamm runs out of a tackle during the Mesa St football game at Lincoln Park.

Nainoa Campbell and Tony Kelly began last season coming off the bench.

By the end of the football season, they were starting.

The Mesa State College juniors led the Mavericks defense Saturday night, intercepting three passes and sacking the quarterback four times in one half of Mesa’s maroon & white scrimmage at Stocker Stadium. The Mavericks open the season at 7 p.m. next Saturday (Aug. 29) against 14th-ranked Central Washington at Stocker Stadium.

“I had to earn my way onto the field,” Kelly said. “I wasn’t a starter coming into camp. I kept fighting, got in and took advantage of my opportunities. That’s the same thing with Nainoa.

He’s a great player and took advantage in his situation.”

Kelly, a junior from Montrose, didn’t have any sacks, but Mesa co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Bill Stafford said Kelly, Alberto Rodriguez and Domonique Lewis pressured the quarterbacks to the outside where Campbell and Dominic Applehans put them down on the turf. Applehans had three sacks and Campbell one.

“We got the pressure up the middle and the ends did a great job of collapsing the pocket,” Stafford said. “The entire secondary did some good things.”

Mesa senior safety and defensive captain Aaron Silverthorn intercepted Jason Haferman on the offensive second team’s first possession and returned it for a touchdown. The first-team defense shut out the second-team offense.

The first team offense, though, was able to score three touchdowns on the second-team defense.

“They did some good things,” Mesa coach Joe Ramunno said of the offense. “They had some success against some good (defensive) fronts.”

Redshirt freshmen quarterbacks Robert Felberg and Michael Mankoff each led the Mavericks on scoring drives.

“They are both still battling,” said Ramunno of the quarterbacks. “They both have skills we’re going use. I know we’re going to be using the two-quarterback set for a little while until one steps ahead of the other one.”

Felberg completed 3 of 8 passes for 40 yards and one touchdown. He led Mesa on a 10-play, 75-yard drive resulting in a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Noble. Felberg completed 4 of 5 passes on the drive.

He led Mesa to a touchdown on a two-minute drill drive as well, completing two passes to Noble and a 47-yard pass to Justin Murray for the touchdown with 27.7 seconds left.

Mankoff was 2 of 5 for 24 yards and one interception. He led the Mavs on a six-play, 54-yard drive ending with a Will Halboth 14-yard TD run.

Halboth, Joey Applehans and J.R. Hamm took the bulk of the carries at tailback. Halboth, a sophomore, had 10 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Applehans had eight carries for 42 yards and Hamm had six carries for 27 yards.


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