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Backup Punter Stabs the Current Punter in the Leg


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GREELEY, Colo. -- The University of Northern Colorado's reserve punter was arrested Tuesday, accused of stabbing his rival in his kicking leg.

 

Mitch Cozad, a sophomore from Wheatland, Wyo., allegedly attacked starting punter Rafael Mendoza in a parking lot in Evans on Monday night, Evans police Lt. Gary Kessler said.

 

Mendoza, the Bears' first-string punter from Thornton, was treated and released from the North Colorado Medical Center Monday night. Coach Scott Downing said Mendoza will not punt for UNC in Saturday's game at Texas State University.

 

"I don't know how long he'll be out because I haven't talked to the doctor," Downing said.

 

Cozad, Mendoza and freshman Zak Bigelow had been in a three-way race for the starting punter's job in preseason training. Mendoza has averaged 37.6 yards per punt on nine punts in the two games so far this season.

 

Cozad is facing second-degree assault charges and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a bond hearing. He was suspended from the team, evicted from his residence and expelled from school on Tuesday, The Greeley Tribune reported.

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Woah, that freshman punter they are talking about Zak Bigelow (although I'm pretty sure they misspelled his first name) was one of my best friends in Elementary School. He moved to Colorado when we were about 10. I had heard he had gotten a scholarship to Northern Colorado as a kicker. Looks like he might be getting some playing time. :lol

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Woah, that freshman punter they are talking about Zak Bigelow (although I'm pretty sure they misspelled his first name) was one of my best friends in Elementary School. He moved to Colorado when we were about 10. I had heard he had gotten a scholarship to Northern Colorado as a kicker. Looks like he might be getting some playing time. :lol

 

 

He actually convinced one punter to stab the other, effectively eliminating both.

 

/conspiracy theory

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Woah, that freshman punter they are talking about Zak Bigelow (although I'm pretty sure they misspelled his first name) was one of my best friends in Elementary School. He moved to Colorado when we were about 10. I had heard he had gotten a scholarship to Northern Colorado as a kicker. Looks like he might be getting some playing time. :lol

 

 

He actually convinced one punter to stab the other, effectively eliminating both.

 

/conspiracy theory

:mischief2

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Wow....

 

Amid punter stabbing scandal, Northern Colorado wins on blocked punt

Team Stat Comparison

 

SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) -- The irony that Northern Colorado, down three punters after a week of controversy, won with a blocked punt was not lost on coach Scott Downing.

 

"I don't even know what to say about that," said Downing, who lost two punters this week in a bizarre stabbing scandal that brought national attention to the small university about 60 miles north of Denver.

 

The Bears beat Texas State 14-13 on Saturday night for their first win on the road in three seasons.

 

"It has been a tough week, but you know these guys, they're the type they survive a lot of stuff," Downing said.

 

Bears punter Rafael Mendoza was treated Monday for a 3- to 5-inch deep puncture wound and released from the hospital after being stabbed outside his apartment in Evans, near Greeley, Colo.

 

Police arrested backup punter Mitch Cozad on Tuesday, accusing the sophomore of plunging a knife into the thigh of Mendoza's kicking leg, hoping to take his teammate's place on the field. Neither punter attended the game.

 

The winning punt block came late in the second quarter. Jacob Carlson's rush pushed the upback into Texas State punter Chris MacDonald, and Matt West picked up the ball and scored with 7 seconds left in the first half to give the Bears a 14-0 lead.

 

Jason Hildenbrand, a strong safety, took on punting duties for Northern Colorado during the first three quarters -- until he got injured on the field. By the end of the game, the Bears were using fourth-string kicker Michael York, whose first punt traveled a wobbly 7 yards.

 

Downing said Mendoza is healing rapidly, but he did not know when the junior would be back on the field. Cozad is free on bond but has been suspended from the university.

 

"I just want our team to get back to normal," he said.

 

Downing said the tumultuous week brought the players together. They prayed for their injured teammate before and after the game, he said. And, many of them wrote the initials RM on their arms before kickoff.

 

Hildenbrand averaged 29.3 yards in six punts after not having punted since high school in 2001. He described the past week as "bizarre to say the least" and called the win "pretty satisfactory."

 

"I just really didn't want to mess up too bad," he said.

 

Texas State coach David Bailiff said he was concerned going into the game that the week's events had given the opposition the resolve to rally for a win.

 

"That gave them cause," he said. "They're holding together a football team."

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