Under the Saturday night lights in the Grand Valley, the Skyhawks didn’t much shine.
The Fort Lewis College football team scored twice in the second half as the Colorado Mesa Mavericks ground out touchdown after touchdown behind their rumbling running game, and the Skyhawks lost 36-12 on Saturday night in Grand Junction.
“Sometimes we just played outside of ourselves fundamentally,” FLC head coach Cesar Rivas-Sandoval said.
The winless Skyhawks scored their only touchdown that mattered on their opening drive of the second half, after forcing a rare three and out to open play after the break.
Taking over on their own 46-yard line, the Skyhawks used six plays to move the ball down the field on the first of their two drives that didn’t come up short.
Quarterback Tim Jenkins capped the drive when he hooked up with Jordan Benton, who dived across the goal line for the score. The extra-point attempt went wide, but the touchdown gave the Skyhawks some life as they pulled within 10 points, 16-6.
“He was running around all day, causing their secondary fits,” Rivas said of his quarterback.
From there it was all downhill and high numbers.
Facing leading Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rusher Jake Cimolino, the Skyhawks allowed the Mavericks 366 yards on the ground.
Cimolino tallied 216 of those yards, averaging about eight yards per carry, as Colorado Mesa added 20 second-half points.
“(The defense) just ran out of gas,” Rivas said. “They played their hearts out; they played against a really good running offense.
“They battled their rear ends off on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Mavericks totaled 545 offensive yards.
FLC, meanwhile, struggled on the ground, tallying just 73 yards on the night. Van Gramman was the Skyhawks’ leading rusher with 69 yards.
As usual, the bulk of the Skyhawks’ yards came through the air – 248 total as Jenkins went 32 of 54 with an interception.
“We were moving the ball,” Rivas said. “Putting together like a 40-yard drive and then punting or putting together a 50-yard drive and then punting.
“A dropped ball here or a penalty there ... they’re drive-killers.”
Late turnovers such as Jenkins’ fourth-quarter interception killed any chance of an FLC comeback. The Skyhawks also fumbled a kickoff return, which the Mavericks converted into a touchdown earlier in the final frame. FLC had four total turnovers.
“The turnovers weren’t open-field type stuff. We were falling down or trying to make the big play. ... They’re just so anxious to make plays right now. ... In trying to make a play you can’t lose your fundamentals ... that’s it; it’s simple,” Rivas said.
The Skyhawks added their second touchdown midway through the fourth quarter on a 12-play, 87-yard drive to make it 23-12.
FLC (0-6, 0-5 RMAC) will host winless Western State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.