Mesa State overcome penalties with a 34-27 RMAC victory.
The Mesa State College football team found a way to win its first game of the season, but the Mavericks left the field Saturday disappointed with their play.
New Mexico Highlands put the Mavericks in a deep hole late in the third quarter, frustrating the Mavericks into 10 penalties, including four personal fouls, before Mesa State persevered with a 34-27 RMAC victory.
“We had a lot of huge mistakes and it’s late enough in the season they’ve got to be corrected,” Mesa State coach
Joe Ramunno said. “We’ve got to clean up the mental mistakes. We’ve got to stop it. There are certain things that happened that you don’t do. We’ve got to have great discipline. I’m proud we got the victory, but we’ve got to correct those things.
“We’ve got to get a lot better to be competitive.”
Now, the Mavericks (1-2, 1-0 RMAC) go back to work this week with plenty to fix before playing another talented team hungry for its first win.
Mesa State makes the 600-plus mile trip to Silver City, N.M. to face Western New Mexico (0-2, 0-1 RMAC) in its home opener. Kickoff is at noon Saturday at Ben Altamirano Memorial Stadium.
The Mustangs gave up a late touchdown to the Colorado School of Mines in a 35-28 loss Saturday in Golden. They produced 488 yards in total offense after only 74 in a 38-3 season-opening loss at Dixie State (Utah) College.
Western New Mexico has 32 college transfers on its roster, including seven Division I transfers and 15 returning starters from last year’s 4-6 team.
The Mustangs average 281 yards per game and allow 425. They have committed seven turnovers in two games.
“Western New Mexico is similar (to Highlands),” Ramunno said. “They have talent. Going on the road will be a challenge. We need to take care of us.”
Turnovers and penalties have hurt the Mavericks as well with five in two games. Mesa’s turnover ratio is negative 2 and it has 21 penalties for 176 yards (10.5 for 88 yards per game).
Other than the penalties, Ramunno said the Mavericks need to be more consistent.
Mesa State’s defense, which didn’t allow a running back to rush for 100 yards or more last season except Abilene
Christian’s Bernard Scott, is allowing 106.3 rushing yards a game.
The offense showed what it could do in the second half (13 first downs, 127 rushing yards, 274 yards in total offense) after struggling in the first half (6 first downs, 47 rushing yards, 141 yards in total offense).
Still, the Mavericks were able to lean on their experience and found a way to win.
“We fight,” Mesa State senior defensive end Nic Pade said. “We take pride in never giving up. We knew it would be tough out there.”