GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) – The Colorado Mesa Mavericks football team kicked off the 2022 season with a win over William Jewell last Thursday night! Here we look around the rest of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference at results and what to look ahead to in the coming weeks.
COLORADO MESA MAVERICKS 37 – WILLIAM JEWELL 14
As we mentioned before, the Mavericks were victorious in Miles Kochevar’s head coaching debut. Jumping out to a 28-0 lead at just the 10:22 mark in the second quarter, the offense showed it has a multitude of weapons. Karst Hunter looks to be improved under center displaying better pocket presence, read progression, and overall command in comparison to last season. Hunter’s receiving options did not miss a beat despite the losses suffered from graduation either with all three new starters scoring touchdowns in the opener. On the defensive end, the Mavs’ dominance up front was the catalyst impressive outing. 10 TFLs and 7 sacks total were spearheaded by outside linebacker Cam Nathan who had 1.5 of each. The linebacking core as a whole stood out as their physicality and range were on full display.
COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES 22 – GRAND VALLEY STATE 25
In easily one of the most entertaining games in all of Division II, the Orediggers fell at the hands of nationally ranked Grand Valley State. The game saw Mines come back from a 17-point deficit to take the lead and ultimately surrender it with under a minute to play. A questionable pass interference call on a fourth down play in the red zone probably left Mines feeling like they’d been robbed but the Orediggers should hold their head high. They marched in a dominant program’s house and battled with them wire to wire. When I say wire to wire, I mean it. The final play of the game saw John Matocha complete a Hail Mary to Harlon Hill Finalist Michael Zeman that was stopped at the one-yard line as time expired. There is no quit in the Orediggers and I expect them to bounce back next week when they face yet another nationally ranked opponent in Angelo State.
CSU-PUEBLO 59 – MIDWESTERN STATE 27
Is the pack truly back? That seems to be the case following their season-opening drubbing of reigning Lone Star Conference champs in Midwestern State on the road. Coming off a down year by Pueblo standards, the Thunderwolves looked revamped and ready to stake a claim on the RMAC crown. Quarterback Steven Crowell led the Thunderwolves’ offense with 396 yards and 5 TDs through the air. The Brayle Brown addition to the coaching staff seems to be paying dividends already. The defense was stout as it usually is with Pueblo and forced three turnovers as well. The Thunderwolves will return home to face Grand Valley State next week with another opportunity to make a major statement.
WESTERN COLORADO 6 – WEST TEXAS A&M 44
The Mountaineers were without star running back Josh Cummings for the season opener and it showed. West Texas A&M dominated the Mountaineers from start to finish. Connor Desch and the offense never seemed to get their bearing aside from the opening drive of the game that was stalled in the red zone, nonetheless. Defensively the loss of RMAC Defensive Player of The Year Will Lydle was painfully evident. The Buffaloes moved the ball at will to the tune of 479 yards of total offense. Although a loss to a tough LSC foe early in the season is not the end of the world, the Mountaineers must be disappointed with their performance coming off their best season in a decade.
SOUTH DAKOTA SCHOOL OF MINES 43 – MISSOURI S&T 20
How about the Hardrocker offense? Jayden Johannsen had a record-breaking day eclipsing his career high with 433 yards through the air to go along with 4 TDs. One of those touchdowns was a 94-yard connection with Jeremiah Bridges that stands as the longest scoring play in program history. Bridges’ 192-yards and 2 TD were complemented by Isaiah Eastman’s 136 yards and 2 touchdowns as well. Talk about explosive, Eastman also returned a punt 85 yards for another score. Johannsen and Eastman were both awarded for their efforts with RMAC Offensive and Special Team Players of the Week nods. SD Mines is a school that has been on the cusp of breaking into the upper echelon of the conference and this may be the year they do it. If Week 1 is any indication, that could be the case.
BLACK HILLS STATE 17 – DICKINSON STATE 2
Black Hills State was able to grind out a win with effective running and a stout defensive effort. The Yellow Jackets did not surrender a touchdown and forced two interceptions by way of defensive backs Nicc Quinones and Bailey Rosenstrauch. Nolan Susel led the way offensively with a 100-yard day on the ground as well as a receiving TD. Susel leads the conference in rushing after one week. The Yellow Jackets return home to face William Jewell and look to continue the positive momentum before conference play begins the following week.
CHADRON STATE 0 – ANGELO STATE 35
The Eagles had a rough go of it in their opener on the road at Angelo State. With the loss of the steady Dalton Holst under center due to graduation, I expected the Eagles offense to take a step back but being shut out? Chadron only gained 224 total yards. They will have to make some major strides if they hope to compete in the always-pass-happy RMAC. But surrendering 35 points is even more shocking considering the Eagles feature a solid defense year in and year out regardless of their win total.
ADAMS STATE 20 – WESTERN NEW MEXICO 34
The Grizzles ultimately came up short in Silver City but showed some signs of improvement. Although the defense allowed 27 points in the first half, they bowed up in the second only surrendering one more score the rest of the way. The usually high-paced offense of the Grizzlies was held in check for the most part but found life in the fourth quarter with Mark Salazar connecting on 2 TDs through the air. Salazar also had two interceptions in the opener and will have to protect the ball better if Adams hopes to beat West Texas A&M who looks to be geared toward a great season after their drubbing of nationally ranked Western Colorado.
NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS 18 – EASTERN NEW MEXICO – 34
The Cowboys are yet another RMAC school to open and fall at the hands of an LSC opponent. Highlands traded punches with the Greyhounds for most of the game but a 17-point third quarter for ENMU was the difference here. Returning RMAC Offensive Player of the Year CJ Sims did not miss a beat though hauling in 11 balls to the tune of 88 yards and one TD. A bye week before facing off with Fort Lewis should go a long way in helping Highlands regroup.
FORT LEWIS – BYE
The Skyhawks did not have a game in week one but will open on their home field this weekend against Arizona Christian.