GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Ryan Sheehan’s 33-yard field goal as time expired gave No. 11 Colorado Mesa a 38-36 win over the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers and the rights to the Nyikos Cup for the third straight season.
The Orediggers took the lead with 23.6 seconds left in the game on a touchdown pass from Ben Bottlinger to All-American Brody Oliver. The two-point pass attempt failed but the Orediggers led 36-35.
On the ensuing kickoff, Josh Brown returned the Mines squib kick to the Mesa 33-yard line but a personal foul penalty pushed the offense back to the Mesa 18 to start the drive with 20 seconds on the clock.
On the first play from scrimmage, Eystin Salum found a wide-open Peter Anderson who darted down the sideline, hurdling one Oredigger defender, before being pushed out at the Mines 14-yard line.
A David Tann rush to the middle of the field, setup Sheehan’s heroics.
Colorado Mesa took their biggest lead of the game with 7:43 remaining in the game after Tann scored on a 62-yard run, but the Orediggers refused to go away scoring touchdowns on their next two drives to take their final lead.
Tann finished the afternoon with a season-high 197 yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns. The senior scored a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter on a 14-yard scamper and a one-yard plunge with 2:18 before the halftime break. The Cedar Rapids, Ia. native added a 69-yard burst and a 62-yard run in the third quarter.
The two high-powered offenses kept going back-and-forth in the see saw battle. The Orediggers finished with 547 yards of offense on 92 plays while the Mavericks had 596 yards of offense on 67 plays. Mines held a distinct advantage in time of possession with nearly 38 minutes to the Mavericks 22 minutes.
Junior quarterback Eystin Salum finished with 72 yards on the ground and 286 yards through the air. He found his favorite receiver Josh Brown four times for 120 yards. Peter Anderson caught four passes for 104 yards, 68 yards on the final drive.
Mines running back finished with a school record 39 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Ben Bottlinger finished 24-of-43 for 370 yards and four touchdowns. Riley Hoff and Oliver each had eight catches with Oliver scoring three times.
Senior defensive end Blake Nelson led all defenders in the game with 12 tackles, a sack and three quarterback hurries.
Antonio Clarkhad nine tackles and three passes broken up.
Penalties once again plagued the Mavericks as the piled up 12 infractions for 125 yards. Two of those extended Oredigger drives which resulted in scores.
The win moves Colorado Mesa to 3-0 on the season for the second time in head coach Russ Martin’s tenure.
The Mavericks will take on the Fort Lewis Skyhawks next Saturday (Sept. 23) at 7pm at Stocker Stadium.