Mavs edge Western State in football
They had to fight and prove they wanted it.
The Colorado Mesa University football team persevered on senior day for a 22-19 RMAC victory over Western State Colorado University on Saturday at Stocker Stadium.
“I can’t say how happy I am right now,” senior Robert Felberg said, his voice cracking with emotion. “We were not going to lose that game. I’m happy for our senior class to go out with a win.
“We’re always going to fight. I hope that’s what we teach to the rest of the team, to never give up.”
Western State (1-9, 1-7 RMAC) limited the Mavericks (4-6, 4-4 RMAC) to 199 yards of total offense, 113 on the ground. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers used the wildcat to produce some big plays and a 19-14 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a battle because their strength is their defensive run game,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “They did a great job. We found a way to get some things done.”
The Mountaineers keyed on Mesa running back Jake Cimolino and the running game. Cimolino was held under 100 yards for the fourth time this season (84 yards on 19 carries).
The Mavericks struggled throwing the ball, failing to open up the running game with the pass. Quarterback Deke Cisco completed 8 of 20 passes for 86 yards with one interception.
“Deke can throw the ball much better than that,” Martin said. “It hurt not having some of those play-action passes being connected.
“Part of it was Deke was struggling getting into a rhythm. A couple throws were not where they needed to be. I don’t know if he felt extra pressure, but he’s going to rebound. We’re capable of doing much better.”
The Mavericks hurt themselves with penalties, getting flagged 14 times for 112 yards, including a couple of personal fouls for interfering with Western’s punt returner.
“We made some very stupid mistakes on the penalties,” Martin said. “Three major special teams penalties. Twice we hit the guy when he’s waiting for the punt. Those are ones we have to eliminate. Those are ones we can control.”
Mesa rebounded early in the fourth quarter with a 16-play, 93-yard scoring drive. DJ Hubbard scored on a six-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat for a 20-19 lead. Hubbard scored on a two-point conversion in the wildcat for a 22-19 lead.
“I think we only ran three or four (types of) plays on that drive,” Cisco said. “We had plays that were working. It was a good job on our coaches part. Coaches saw up in the box what was working, and we stayed with it.”
Mesa stayed on the ground for most of the drive, but it was a Western pass-interference penalty and two Cisco pass completions that kept the drive alive. Cisco completed one to Austin Rodriguez for seven yards and another to Jake Cimolino for 16 yards.
Western State had a chance to force overtime with a 36-yard field goal attempt with one minute left, but it was wide left.
“Fortunately we got a good push, and they missed it,” Martin said.
For awhile, it looked as if Western State was going to steal its first road victory of the season. The Mountaineers tied the game 14-14 midway through the second quarter when LA McGee scored on a 77-yard run in the wildcat formation.
Western State frequently rotated quarterbacks, and ran the wildcat, with starting quarterback Brian Duboski out, which caught Martin and Mesa’s staff off-guard.
“We weren’t absolutely sure (Western would run the wildcat), but our guys practice that,” Martin said. “It’s very similar with the zone-read stuff we do. You have to stay gap sound both front side and back side. Unfortunately on a couple of those, we gave them creases.”
The Mountaineers took the momentum into halftime when they pinned Mesa on its one-yard line then tackled Cimolino in the end zone for a safety. Western led 16-14.
The Mavericks struggled to get their offense going in the third quarter, going three-and-out on their first three possessions.
“It was definitely frustrating (in the) second half,” Cisco said. “The third quarter was absolutely miserable. The first half of the game, we came out and moved the ball. We’ve got to get out of the slumps in the middle of the game.”
On the Mavericks’ fourth possession of the second half, Cisco was intercepted. Western cornerback Justin Brooks returned it 27 yards to the Mesa five-yard line. Mesa’s defense answered, limiting the Mountaineers to a 21-yard field goal and a 19-14 lead.