It was billed as the game of the week, but visiting Snow College made sure Mesa Community College knew why it is ranked first in the National Junior College Athletic Association, beating MCC at home 48-17 and handing the Thunderbirds their first loss of the season.
Snow’s Houston Erbstoesser had three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown and completed 16 of 22 passes for 191 yards in the winning effort.
The Badgers’ Soni Sotele had 25 carries for 151 yards and one touchdown for the visitors from Utah.
The Thunderbirds (4-1) came into the contest ranked 12th in the NJCAA but were also without their top quarterback, Dax Crum, who was nursing a bad shoulder.
Crum was injured in last week’s win against New Mexico Military Institute.
MCC lost two fumbles and also had an interception, plus had 8 penalties for 88 yards, something uncharacteristic of the Thunderbirds so far this season.
Brian Libby, who filled in for the injured Crum, was 10 of 22 for 152 yards, including a 61-yard TD pass to teammate Terrance Moore that made it 28-10 with 3:35 to go in the third quarter.
However, as MCC coach Dan Dunn said, the Thunderbirds offense could never get going, and “bad things created even more bad.”
“It really hurts losing your quarterback,” Dunn said. “Brian did a good job for us and we were hoping he would do a little more than he did. But when you got your team leader out, it is tough, but so did they and they still scored 48 points.
“We just didn’t play good football,” Dunn said.
Crum was dressed, but Dunn did not want to risk having him get hurt and “possibly lose him for the rest of the season.”
“He’ll be ready next week (against rival Scottsdale Community College),” Dunn said.
MCC’s only other touchdown came in the fourth quarter when Ronald Young broke away for a 62-yard score.
Dunn said his team will now shift focus to SCC.
“We’re going to keep doing what have been doing,” Dunn said. “I think we have a good football team and we think what we’re doing is sound.”