Mavs run over by Eagles
Chadron offense too much for Mesa in home opener
Colorado Mesa University’s offensive line saw first-hand what it wants to become.
Behind a line new CMU offensive coordinator Bill O’Boyle built at Chadron State, the Eagles controlled the clock, running for 228 yards, to defeat Colorado Mesa 41-30 on Saturday at Stocker Stadium.
“Sometimes, from a standpoint, you wish they didn’t do quite so good of a job,” CMU coach Russ Martin said of O’Boyle. “Their offensive line is extremely good.
“It’s the same thing defensively. That’s what Coach (Todd) Auer is trying to get our guys to do. Our kids are working. We just have to keep working to get as good as we can be.”
Chadron State (3-1, 1-0 RMAC) ran 86 plays on offense, kept the ball for more than 35 minutes and put together six drives of more than 50 yards — all resulting in points. The Eagles had 552 yards of total offense.
“I guess I was extremely happy running 86 plays,” Chadron State coach Jay Long said. “That was big. It kept their offense off the field.”
Chadron State marched down the field on its first two possessions to jump to a 14-0 lead with two Jonn McLain touchdown passes.
The Mavericks (0-3, 0-1 RMAC) got the answer they needed with Trent deBraga’s 70-yard kickoff return into Chadron territory. Three plays later, Jake Cimolino scored on a four-yard run.
Mesa’s defense forced Chadron to punt for the first time on its next possession, and the Mavs came up with a big play on offense.
CMU quarterback Deke Cisco scramble to avoid the Eagles’ blitz and found Austin Rodriguez all alone down the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The Eagles came back with two more long touchdown drives, one for 69 yards and the second for 74.
Chadron moved into Mesa territory one more time before the half, but instead of settling for a 43-yard field goal attempt, the Eagles decided to go for it on fourth-and-six. McLain’s pass was tipped by deBraga. CMU safety Michael Brady grabbed the ball in midair and scored on a 75-yard return.
“It was a great play by Trent,” Brady said. “I was lucky enough to be in the right position, saw it. Thank God for my defense to lead the way to the end zone. I couldn’t have done it without them.
“We left our hearts on the field. We have a couple things here and there we need to clean up. I thought our effort was there.”
Chadron led 28-20 at halftime.
The Mavericks forced a fumble on Chadron’s first play of the second half and defensive end Justin Brown recovered.
Six plays later, Cisco scored on a 2-yard run. Alex Zemezonak kicked the extra point to get within a point, 28-27.
Colorado Mesa’s defense came up with another big play when DJ Hubbard blocked a field goal attempt. Brady recovered.
The Mavericks moved down field, but Cisco was intercepted in the end zone.
Mesa moved into scoring territory on its next possession. Cisco was stopped shy of the goal line on third down, so the Mavs settled for a Zemezonak 17-yard field goal for a 30-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. It was the Mavericks’ first lead of the season.
Chadron came back with a 70-yard drive and a touchdown aided by two pass interference calls on CMU sophomore cornerback Jordan Price.
“My coaches brought me into the office earlier today and told me I need to be a more offensive corner and be more up on them,” said Price, the RMAC defensive freshman of the year last year. “I tried to bring a more physical edge to it, but it seemed like every time I tried to be physical, the refs would call a foul. It might have been one or two, but it seemed he called it all the time.
“Maybe it was something I was doing, but all I can do is move on, progress and get better and try to come out with a win.”
Chadron went to Price’s side again on its next possession, hitting Nathan Ross for a 54-yard touchdown.
“Even though the defense was holding on to some things, it does wear on you,” Martin said. “When you let a team like that stay on the field and get opportunities, they’re a good team. They’re well-coached. They made plays as the game went on.
“I think it helps the players see we can play with the best teams, but at the same time, we don’t just want to play with them. We want to win these games. That’s going to be our big key. We never control our opponent. We control us.”