The Mesa T-Birds football team kicked off their season on Saturday Aug. 19 at John D. Riggs Stadium in a 59-21 loss to the Snow College Badgers.
The game got off to a rough start for the T-Birds with Badgers quarterback Alex Kuresa finding Alonzo Simpson for a 50-yard score on the first play from scrimmage.
Offensively, the Badgers started early and didn’t lose their momentum. Kuresa was effective passing as well as on his feet, escaping the T-Bird defenders throughout the game.
Kuresa finished the game 15 of 26 passing for 209 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Kuresa contributed a lot with his legs though, rushing for 87 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The T-Birds also had their own issues to contend with. The offense gave up 3 interceptions throughout the game and was also riddled with penalties for the duration of the game.
At one point several penalties resulted in the offense backed up to a second and 60.
The mistakes were costly, leaving the T-Birds defense out on the field for a large chunk of the game. The defense became noticeably tired in the fourth quarter. “It was a tough loss and we’re going to have to bounce back. There were a lot of mistakes that we made. Way too many penalties, way too many drive killers,” said T-Birds quarterback Austin Apodaca. “There’s nothing we can do but move on and keep our heads up.”
Apodaca finished the game completing 26 of 47 passes for 243 yards with 3 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions. He also rushed for 53 yards.
The Badgers scored on their first 2 possessions of the game making it 14-0, but the T-Birds answered back on their next two possessions to tie it up. However, the Badgers got rolling in the second half and the T-Birds offense couldn’t keep up.
The T-Birds managed to keep the game achievably close until The Badgers put up three fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Though, the T-Birds did have some additional difficulties to overcome heading into the game.
“We lost prbably about five or six starters to injury in the last couple of weeks that didn’t play Saturday…I think we have to take a step back to reassess where we’re at,” said head coach Ryan Felker. “It was a good measuring
stick for us to be able to see where we were at because we replaced most of our football team.”
Felker went on to say that there was only one returning player to the offense and defense respectively, so there is a learning curve for the team moving forward.
Snow, on the other hand saw much of their roster from the previous season returning, which Felker added is a very helpful thing for a team.
The T-Birds next home game will be on Sept. 6 against Phoenix College and Felker seems fairly confident moving forward.
“We’re gonna win a lot of football games this year,” Felker said.