Mesa Sends Coach Out with Win

BY: Jim Richards
Special for The Republic

With several of his players hoisting him above his head and chanting "T-Birds, T-Birds," Mesa Community College head coach Dan Dunn went out in fine style Saturday afternoon.

Moments after No. 8 Mesa's 47-31 victory over No. 9 Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College in the 2007 Valley of the Sun Bowl, Dunn announced that he was giving up the position as head coach after five seasons, where he played a significant role in revitalizing the football program.

"I don't want this to take away from what the kids did today," said Dunn, who said he decided to retire at the start of the season but had yet to fill out any paperwork. "Forty-one years is enough."

Behind 386 passing yards and four touchdowns passes from quarterback Dax Crum, Mesa buried Fort Scott at the outset and coasted to the victory. The win could push Mesa into the top five of the national rankings.

"We went out hard, and now it's time to go to the next level," Mesa wide receiver Brice Wilkins said.

Crum had lots of help. Wide receiver Terrance Moore caught seven passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Wilkins had three receptions for 41 yards and two touchdowns and also threw a touchdown pass. Tight end Micah Parker caught nine passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. Running back Jay Leal returned from a knee injury that cost him the final three games of the season to run for 81 yards on 15 carries, and he threw a touchdown pass.

The Mesa defense limited Fort Scott's top running back Rodney Lovett to 41 yards on 26 carries and the Fort Scott rushing offense to 138 yards total, a total more impressive when considering that 85 of those yards came on quarterback Greg Cross' touchdown run with 1:34 to play in the game.

"We thought we had a chance to move the ball on them," Dunn said. "They were closer to our size than some of the teams we've been playing."

Mesa (9-2) came out with an assortment of trick plays that kept Fort Scott (8-3) off guard. Leal's 17-yard option pass to Wilkins on the first drive opened the scoring. Wilkins tossed an end-around touchdown pass to Moore from 17 yards out for a 47-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.

"The field was so poor and their footing was unsure," Dunn said.

Crum threw touchdown passes to Moore, Wilkins and Parker to make it 27-7, then added a 35-yarder to Moore with eight seconds left in the half to make it 34-14.

"We've got an explosive offense and we got into a rhythm," said Crum.

"I don't think I got touched one time back there. My O-line really did great."

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