GRAND JUNCTION - The Mesa State Mavericks(1-2)(1-0) overcame a 17 point second half deficit in their Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opener to get their first win of the season with a 34-27 victory over New Mexico Highlands(0-3)(0-1) on Saturday at Stocker Stadium.
The Mavs tied the game late in the first half at seven when Phil Vigil connected with Griffen Chernoff for a 41 yard touchdown. But the Cowboys would answer immediately as Highlands quarterback Dexter Guidry hit Jonathan Ligons for 70 yards and a 13-7 halftime lead.
Things would get worse for Mesa State before they'd get better. Trailing 20-10 in the second half, the Mavs started a drive deep in their own territory. Vigil's toss on an option on the first play of that drive was fumbled by halfback Bobby Coy and returned by a touchdown by Highlands giving the Cowboys a 17 point lead midway through the 3rd quarter.
Then something clicked. A Highlands personal foul put the Mavs on the Cowboy 9 yard line. Vigil found fullback Zach Belloni for a touchdown to cut the lead to 27-17.
Coy and Vigil led the next drive down the field, capped with a four yard scoring scamper from the quarterback to close the gap to three. Jared Keating tied the score at 27 on the following posession with a 32 yard field goal.
After another defensive stand by Mesa State, the Mavs found themselves with a chance to take the lead late in the 4th quarter. Vigil hooked up with Justin Murray for a 30 yard gain to put the ball in Cowboy territory, and Coy found redemption for his costly 3rd quarter fumble with a 3 yard game winning touchdown run.
Coy finished with 149 yards rushing.
Mesa State continues conference play next weekend at Western New Mexico.