Super Salum

Mavs' QB has 376 yards of total offense in rout of Fort Lewis

Colorado Mesa’s Virnel Moon breaks a tackle Saturday night in the first half of the Mavericks’ 40-14 romp over Fort Lewis at Stocker Stadium. With two receivers missing the game with injuries, Moon had a big night — six catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

Colorado Mesa’s David Tann, 44, had little room to run Saturday night as Fort Lewis’ defense didn’t want to let the Mavs’ running back beat them. Tann finished with 48 yards rushing in Colorado Mesa’s 40-14 victory.

Eystin Salum broke away from a defender who grabbed his facemask and picked up another 31 yards, a 65-yard run in all.

“I guess I saw his hand coming for me and I felt a grab and turned my head and his hand slipped off,” the Colorado Mesa quarterback said Saturday night after leading the No. 11 Mavericks (4-0, 4-0 RMAC) to a 40-14 rout of Fort Lewis (1-3, 1-3). “In my head I thought ‘Welp, we just got another 15.’ I was trying to score.”

He didn’t score on that one — Daryl Hawkins took it in from the 7 for a 13-0 lead — but it was one of several big plays for Salum, who rushed for 164 yards and one touchdown and completed 10 of 18 passes for 212 yards in only three quarters.

Saturday was definitely Salum’s night.

“He’s a threat. Eystin’s a threat throwing the football and a threat running the football,” CMU coach Russ Martin said. “It gives us a great addition to David (Tann) because when people want to focus on David, then Eystin is going to have some opportunities, or we’re going to have opportunities with our receivers.”

Late in the second quarter, Salum reversed his field and picked up 14 yards to the Fort Lewis 13. Mesa was called for being offsides during the drive, one of only two first-half penalties, but on first and 15, Salum threw a pretty fade route to Virnel Moon, who out-jumped his defender to bring down his first touchdown since the opener.

Moon was Salum’s go-to guy Saturday with Josh Brown and Marcus Hines out with injuries. Moon knew he was going to get his chance, and wanted to make the most of it. He caught six passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

“Me and Eystin stayed after practice a couple days throughout the week to work on timing,” Moon said. “I’m just trying to get his trust back. Without finishing last season (Moon was dismissed for violating team rules, playing in seven games), I’m doing as much as I can to get the quarterbacks’ trust back and believe in me again.

“This week I’ve been working real hard because I knew the guys weren’t going to play. I wanted to come out here and let him know you can trust me any time. When in doubt and we want to score, you can throw it up to me and I got that one in the corner.”

He and Salum laughed that Moon really should have had a third touchdown, but Salum overthrew him on a post route.

Early in the third quarter, though, they showed that extra work paid dividends on a 21-yard touchdown for a 26-0 lead.

“It’s a blessing we have, a lot of wide receivers,” Salum said. “It’s a blessing for me especially since I get to throw to them. We did some extra work on routes and Virnel could have had three; I overthrew him on that post. The extra work is showing on the field.”

One of Salum’s most impressive throws helped set up Moon’s second touchdown — and he never saw it. Fort Lewis got a good rush on him, but Salum got the pass off just before he was hit.

One of the Skyhawks’ defenders grabbed Peter Anderson’s jersey near midfield, but Anderson broke out of that and got good position on a defensive back and made the catch while backpedaling, getting the ball down to the 22. Mesa declined the holding call, opting to take the 48-yard play.

“I was thinking, did I just float that or did Peter get it?” Salum said. “I couldn’t tell.”

The defense, which allowed only 4.5 yards per play, forced a three-and-out, and that’s when Salum missed Moon on the post. He and Tann pounded the ball to the Fort Lewis 21, and on fourth-and-one, Salum kept the ball on the left side and suddenly was all alone on the sideline and ran untouched for a 32-yard touchdown and a 33-0 lead.

“Everyone picked up their blocks, I didn’t get touched,” Salum said. “I did my job, Tann did his job, Christian did his job.”

Center Christian Leui laughed that it might get a little awkward if he didn’t do his job — he’s Salum’s roommate.

“The chemistry on the offensive line is really coming together,” he said. “We’re a lot more cohesive as a group, more comfortable.”

Yet another defensive stand and a Fort Lewis unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a punt gave the Mavs the ball at midfield, and five plays later, Brett Ojiyi broke a couple of tackles and scored from the 16, giving the Mavericks a 40-0 lead.

Martin said Moon’s touchdown late in the second quarter was huge for momentum, and the coaching staff challenged the Mavericks to keep it going in the third quarter.

They did.

“We challenged guys in the locker room to come out and start fast,” Martin said. “We come out and get a stop, go down and score. We get a stop, go down and score. All of a sudden that 19 jumped up to 40.”

With the Skyhawks determined not to let Tann have another big game, it opened things up for Salum. Tann had 58 yards on a dozen carries.

Moon said the offense made a promise, and they kept that promise.

“Coach (Jeromy) McDowell told us to know your job and do it, that’s all you can do,” Moon said of CMU’s offensive coordinator. “He asked us to promise him yesterday for everybody to do their job on offense and that’s what we did.”

And now, it’s officially Pueblo week.

“Pueblo is an outstanding football team and so are we,” Martin said. “It’s like I told our guys down there, Pueblo wants us. Well, they got us. We’re gonna be coming, and we’re gonna be coming full strength.”


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