Mavs get over the hump with win over Black Hills State
Colorado Mesa tops Black Hills State for first win
It came down to the final seconds, but it was worth it.
The Colorado Mesa University football team rallied to kick a field goal with nine seconds left for its first win of the season, 31-29 over Black Hills State University, the school where Mavericks’ first-year head coach Russ Martin got his first head coaching job.
Alex Zemezonak converted a 17-yard field goal with nine seconds left to spoil Black Hills State’s homecoming Saturday at Lyle Hare Stadium in Spearfish, S.D.
“It’s great to come back (to Black Hills), but it’s great to leave home with a win,” Martin said. “I’m proud of the kids for battling like they did. It was a good win, but it was a challenge. They kept battling back.”
Black Hills State (0-3, 0-2 RMAC) scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 29-28 lead with 3:17 left in the game. The Yellow Jackets attempted a two-point conversion for a three-point lead but failed.
Jason Haferman led the Mavericks (1-3, 1-1 RMAC) on an 11-play, 65-yard drive, getting to the Yellow Jackets’ 6, setting up Zemezonak’s game-winning field goal.
“Jason played very well,” Martin said. “He kept his composure. Everybody thought we’d drive and win the game (on the final drive).”
Haferman completed 18 of 28 passes for 157 yards with one interception in his first career start. He rushed for three touchdowns.
Martin said the Mavericks’ starting quarterback in the first three games, Deke Cisco, tried to practice Friday, but he couldn’t put any pressure on his injured left ankle.
Haferman struggled early, throwing an interception on Mesa’s first possession, but the defense held, blocking a field goal attempt.
The Mavericks fumbled on their next possession, leading to a Black Hills field goal.
“Part of it was nerves,” Martin said of the two early turnovers. “Jason struggled early. I’m pleased with the way he kept battling. This is a great character builder.”
“The defense played lights-out early. It could’ve been 21-0 easily.”
The Yellow Jackets scored on their next possession for a 10-0 lead, but Mesa responded with a 73-yard drive, led by Mesa running back Jake Cimolino.
The sophomore broke through a pile and scored on a 27-yard run. He finished with 33 carries for 196 yards.
“Everything was locked up,” Martin said of Cimolino’s TD run. “He pops out, and nobody got a hold of him.”
Haferman led the Mavericks on back-to-back scoring drives in the second quarter, capped by runs of four and six yards for a 21-16 lead at halftime.
Mesa missed two scoring opportunities on its possession to open the second half. First, a penalty negated a Cimolino run, then the Mavericks missed a field goal try.
Mesa committed a season-high 18 penalties for 181 yards.
Haferman’s five-yard TD run gave the Mavericks a 28-16 lead, but the Yellow Jackets responded with their two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for a 29-28 lead.
“I was very proud of the way our kids kept battling,” Martin said. “We’ll have some tremendous amount of growing out of this. We know we can be a better team yet.”