The Paw Print
The Adams State University football team took down Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) rival Western State on Saturday by a score of 43-14 to bring home their eleventh straight Colorado Classic victory.
The win puts the Grizzlies at 3-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play. The Mountaineers fall to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference. For ASU, this is their first 3-0 start since 1996 and was the first time they’ve opened conference play with a win since 2006.
“It feels good to be 3-0 for the first time that I’ve been here and 1-0 in conference,” said senior James Ackel (Riverside, Calif.), “It always feels good to get Western. That’s just the starting point.”
Currently, the Grizzlies top all of NCAA Division 2 football in turnovers gained, having recovered 7 fumbles and made 8 interceptions. Four of those turnovers came in Saturday’s game. ASU is ranked second overall in turnover margin, with +4.
The Grizzlies put up points early in Saturday’s contest. Following an interception by sophomore Cariel Brooks (Miami, Fla.), ASU moved down the field and found the end zone on a two yard pass from junior quarterback Cody Davies (Bozeman, Mont.) to sophomore Michael Carl (Rush, Colo.) A successful two point conversion run by Ackel gave Adams State an 8-0 lead with 8:17 left in the first quarter.
The Grizzly defense would then force the Mountaineers to go three-and-out. On ASU’s ensuing drive, they marched down to the WSCU 2 yard line, only to be called for a delay of game. After unsuccessful rushing attempts, the Grizzlies would settle for a 34 yard field goal from senior David Van Voris (Elizabeth, Colo.), putting the score at 11-0 with the clock winding down on the first quarter.
The Grizzlies saw the end zone in the second quarter, this time when sophomore Connor Stevens (Colorado Springs, Colo.) intercepted a pass from Western State quarterback Brian Duboski and returned it 40 yards for an ASU score. A successful PAT from Van Voris pushed the Grizzlies out to an 18-0 lead.
On Western State’s next possession, Ackel intercepted a pass at the ASU 13 and took it all the way to the end zone, only to have the play called back because of a block in the back penalty against ASU. However, the Grizzlies would maintain possession, taking over at their own 8 yard line. They were then forced to punt after going three-and-out.
Western State did find the end zone before time expired in the first half. A 25 yard pass from Duboski to Travis Haney with 28 seconds left on the clock made the score 18-7 and was the final scoring play of the half.
The first points of the third quarter were scored by the ASU defense when Brooks tackled running back Germaine Daniels in the WSCU end zone for a safety. On the Grizzlies’ next possession, Davies would find sophomore Drew Edwards (Longmont, Colo.) in the end zone on a 10 yard pass to cap a 10-play, 59-yard drive.
The Mountaineers would then take over, and need only three plays to once again find the end zone. A 39 yard rush by Brady Gasaway and a successful PAT put the score at 27-14 with the Grizzlies still holding onto the lead.
Adams State was then forced to go three-and-out. However, Western State’s Mark Jones fumbled the punt and it was recovered by the Grizzlies. This set ASU up for the short field on the WSCU 18. A 15 yard pass from senior back-up quarterback Trevor Eggleston (Tucson, Ariz.) to redshirt freshman Justin Kauffman (Anchorage, Alaska) set up first and goal for the Grizzlies on the four yard line. On the next play, with 1:48 left in the third quarter, freshman Chaz Butler (Denver, Colo.) would find the end zone on a four yard rush and push the Grizzlies ahead 34-14.
The Grizzly defense would get another safety at the start of the fourth quarter when WSCU punter Brennan Jacobs kneeled the ball in the end zone as he tried to punt. This put the score at 36-14 in favor of the Grizzlies with 12:25 left to play in the game.
Later in the quarter, the Grizzlies went on a 15-play, 74-yard march for the end zone. The drive ended with a ten yard touchdown run on fourth down by redshirt freshman Dominique Matthews (Brighton, Colo.). This was the final scoring play of the game and set the score at 43-14 with Adams State coming out on top.
The Grizzlies got to bring home the traveling Colorado Classic trophy for the eleventh straight year.
Senior Kevin Ashak (Mesa, Ariz.) said that the win was reassuring for his team, as they got to test their skills against their league. He said that this was especially important after coming off of playing against an NAIA team in Wayland Baptist University.
Matthews racked up 30 yards in six carries, all of which came in the Grizzlies’ last possession of the game. Davies was 30-42, throwing for 231 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Edwards led the ASU receivers with 92 yards on 9 catches. Junior Harry Adjei (San Jose, Calif.) had 8 receptions for 61 yards.
On the defensive side, Ackel had nine tackles, six of which were solo. Stevens added eight more. For Stevens, his interception was the first of his career and helped him to be named RMAC Defensive Player of the Week.
This weekend, the Grizzlies head into Pueblo, Colo. to take on the also unbeaten Colorado State University- Pueblo Thunderwolves. The Thunderwolves are ranked third in the American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll this week.
Both Ackel and Ashak have several goals moving into this weekend’s contest. “As a team we need to focus on penalties, knowing your assignment, and trusting what our coaches thought out. We have to buy in,” Ashak said. Ackel’s goal is for his team to play a flawless game. He said, “if we can do that, we’ll be untouchable.”
Saturday’s contest is set to kick off at 6 p.m. in the Neta and Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl. Fans are highly encouraged to make the drive to support the Grizzlies.
ASU women’s basketball will be selling green-out “Neuter the Dogs 2” shirts for $10 in Plachy Hall for the remainder of the week.
Fans unable to make it to the game can listen on KSPK FM, 102.3, 103.5, and 104.1, or stream the game live on kspk.com.