Missed opportunities cost CMU
Colorado Mesa’s football team had designs on taking a big step forward this season.
The Mavericks hoped to have their first winning football season in five years. For the first time since 2008, they had opportunities to achieve that goal, but it didn’t happen.
Mesa finished the season with its fourth consecutive loss to finish the season 5-6 (4-5 RMAC) when Adams State kicked a 39-yard field goal with five seconds left to defeat the Mavericks 19-17 on Saturday afternoon at Stocker Stadium.
“I can tell you we’re not going to forget how this feels right now,” junior running back Jake Cimolino said after the game. “That was a tough one. I know none of us want to feel that again. We’re going to prepare in the offseason the hardest we ever have. We’re going to buy in more and show the young guys how to do that and come back stronger than ever.”
Cimolino, who had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season rushing, is one of the bright spots on a young team.
The Mavericks defense was solid all season, consistently stopping opposing teams from scoring even when they are inside the 20.
Mesa entered Saturday’s game seventh in the nation in red-zone defense, limiting opponents to score 60.5 percent of the time they get inside the Mesa 20. Mesa’s defense was 23rd in the nation in scoring defense at 19.3 points allowed per game.
The defense was solid again Saturday, limiting Adams State to one touchdown and one field goal in the red zone.
The Mavs were tied for first in the country with 22 interceptions entering the game and ranked second in the nation in turnovers gained (plus-32). They tied a school record with its 23rd interception of the season.
However, the Mavericks were 0-5 this season when scoring less than 20 points like it did the past four weeks.
Mesa started three different quarterbacks this season and played all three in a game a couple times, but two of them return along with seven starters on offense and eight on defense.
Mesa will need to replace five players on defense, including leading tackler Jake Edmiston, safety and punter Michael Brady and cornerback Ryan Lendrum.
The Mavericks lose six players on offense, including center Brett Boyer, two receivers and tight end Drew Holder.
“Our seniors provided phenomenal leadership and growth for every player in this program and for every player that will follow,” CMU head coach Russ Martin said. “Our young guys are going to be winners because of the example these old guys have set.
“People looking from the outside don’t see the time and effort they put in. They are outstanding young men. They’ve set the direction of the program. Is it an ideal thing going in on a losing streak? No, but our guys understand. They’ll use it as a fuel for the things they can do.”
Edmiston believes the foundation is set and Martin has the program going in the right direction.
“I think offensively, defensively they’ll add more depth,” he said. “There is so much young talent. It’s heading in the right direction, no doubt about it.
“There are a ton of young freshmen champing at the bit. These guys are ready to lead. It’s their team now. I’m excited where they’re headed.”