When the opposing running back has more rushing yardage than your entire offensive production, it's going to be a long day.
And it was a very long day for the Colorado Mesa football team Saturday when All-American running back Cameron Mayberry, behind his veteran offensive line, ran for 192 yards and two touchdowns to lead No. 13 Colorado School of Mines to a 56-20 rout of the Mavericks at Stocker Stadium and retain the Nyikos Cup.
"He's a stud," CMU defensive end Mason Newton said. "All props to him; he's a great running back. Wish we could get him over here. As long as you keep him under 200 (yards) it should be a better game, but we played a little soft today."
Mines pairs the physical offensive line with an even better defensive front, and it caused all kinds of trouble for the Mavericks (2-3, 2-2 RMAC), who managed only 188 yards of total offense.
"We got beat physically up front on both sides of the ball," CMU coach Russ Martin said. "We were not able to run the ball with any kind of consistency, they were. They took control of the game."
There were times the Mavericks had Mayberry contained at the line of scrimmage, but he broke tackles and churned out more yardage, averaging 9.1 yards a carry. At times the Mavs got pressure on freshman quarterback John Matocha, but he scrambled away and found receivers. Matocha completed 24 of 33 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns.
"All props to their quarterback," Newton said. "He kept all their drives alive, he kept us off him and their O-line did a hell of a job.
"That offensive line was really good. They had great pass protection, you know they're physical enough on the run where we couldn't get help and couldn't get there. One thing we definitely did not do well is make tackles."
It didn't take Mayberry and the Orediggers (5-0, 5-0) long to seize control. Playing without senior wide receiver Peter Anderson, the Mavericks struggled from the get-go. Their first two series produced zero yards, with four incomplete passes, a false start and two runs that were stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
In between, Mayberry took a toss for 17 yards on the Orediggers' first play, Matocha threw an 8-yard pass and Mayberry took a handoff, made one cut to the sideline and raced 23 yards for a touchdown. On its second series, Mines drove 64 yards, with Matocha finding Zach Peterson across the middle for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Hayden Bollinger, who got his first career start at quarterback, got the Mavs their first positive yards when he gained four yards on a broken play, then kept the ball for 10 more.
Jesse Rodriquez fought for five more yards, but Bollinger headed to the sideline and Aaron Howard was summoned.
Martin said he wasn't sure how Bollinger was injured, but suspected he would enter concussion protocol after being hit hard on his second run.
He was only one of several Mavs who ended up taking off their shoulder pads — kick returner Isaac Salazar went out after the opening kickoff, wide receiver Bradley Toussaint and running back Trey Windham were injured. Anderson was out with a concussion, and starting left tackle Joe Bryson didn't suit up, either.
After KJ Sapp caught a 1-yard pass from Howard for a touchdown on fourth and goal late in the third quarter, he, too, left the game with an injury. Tight end Dagan Rienks started, but aggravated an injury, and his backup, Shaun Apiki, was hurt, which eliminated the double tight end sets the Mavs planned to use.
"I'm very much concerned about our depth right now with our injuries," Martin said. "Not having Joe Bryson at left tackle hurt, not having Peter hurt. Today we didn't have any of the top four receivers. Hayden went out early and Aaron stepped in and played extremely well. He's playing on a bad wheel and he played very well. We've just gotta rebound and get it back together and see who's healthy, and the healthy guys have to compete."
Without Anderson, and then Sapp, the timing between the quarterbacks and receivers was off. Bollinger missed all four of his pass attempts and Howard completed 12 of 29 for 146 yards and three touchdowns. He was also intercepted once when Geoff Keating jumped a route and returned the pick 37 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.
"I think Peter not being there was a big thing, but we throw to these guys in practice," Howard said. "We're not not throwing to them. We have time with everybody. We have to do our jobs, bottom line."
Junior Christopher Brown, who has played in only four games in his career, mainly on special teams, scored his first career touchdown. He gathered in a pass from Howard, making a cut back to the middle and putting one hand on the turf to keep his balance before making a bee-line for the goal line. His 38-yard touchdown put the Mavs on the board in the second quarter.
"It's taken long enough," he said with a smile. "The backups knew they had to fill some big shoes. They got reps, they were ready. Coming in and executing is the big part."
He finished with three catches for 46 yards. Sapp had five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown and Trevon Lambert also scored his first touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Howard in the second quarter.
Mines' defense has allowed teams to rush for only 31.8 yards a game, and the Mavs finished with 42.
"It's hard to get it going when we weren't able to run the football," Martin said. "I think we had a good plan going in and physically there were a couple of plays where we just got dominated. Our guys on the line just got stood up. That's a credit to them, but at same time, we have to have guys play with a little greater intensity.
"We've got to get better from it, grow, learn and say this is behind us. Don't ever think you can't learn from it. We have to get healed up and healthy and get better from it. The getting healed part of it is a concern because we don't have the depth some of the other teams have.
"Championship teams tend to have a much bigger senior class and we don't have that. We had a couple of guys who chose to leave and guys who failed some classes. We've got some great young talent, but we can't make them older overnight."