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LIBERTY, MO — The South Dakota School of Mines football team outscored William Jewell College, 28-7, over the first two quarters and staved off a Cardinal rally in the second half to put up an impressive 42-27 victory Thursday night in Liberty, Mo., as the Hardrockers opened the 2017 season in a non-conference matchup.
“Thank you to the great contingent of ‘Rocker fans that were in attendance tonight for our season opening victory against a resilient William Jewell team,” said Hardrocker football head coach Zach Tinker. “Very proud of our veterans that have led our team and the new ‘Rockers that made their debut in blue and gold tonight. We played a very good first half and did some good things in the second half but certainly we need to finish games with more discipline.”
In the second quarter, Sullivan connected with freshman standout Brandon LaBrie who hauled in a 54-yard pass for a score, followed by a Sullivan three-yard rushing touchdown and then a nine-yard rushing TD from senior Dorian Cowart with 22 seconds before the half.
SD Mines went into halftime with a 28-7 advantage.
William Jewell added a score midway through the third quarter, but the Rockers answered back toward the end of the period as senior Kevin Thompson capped off a nine-play 62-yard drive when he dashed into the end zone from 18 yards out.
The ‘Rockers headed into the fourth quarter with a 35-13 lead.
William Jewell was able to find the end zone twice in the final frame, sandwiched between LaBrie’s second touchdown of the night, this time on a 52-yard strike from Sullivan after a four plays for 75 yards.
Junior kicker Robbie Jo Gerarden was a perfect 6-6 on extra points Thursday — and in doing so now owns a new SD Mines school record for most extra points in a career. His total after the first game of the season is 88.
In the team stats, the Hardrockers racked up 460 yards of total offense to 421 for William Jewell. SD Mines tallied 164 rushing yards and 296 passing yards. The Cardinals had just 97 rushing yards and 324 yards through the air. The ‘Rockers had 29 first downs while allowing WJC 19.
LaBrie had one heck of a debut for the Hardrockers. The Westlake Village, Calif., native, who is listed as running back on the roster, led the team in receptions with seven for 178 yards and two scores. He averaged 25.4 yards per catch in the game. Senior Isaiah Manley finished with six catches for 57 yards.
Sullivan ended the game completing 19-32 passes for 296 yards with two interceptions.
Thompson paced the Hardrockers on the ground, running the ball 21 times for 81 yards and a score while Cowart collected 58 yards on 13 carries and a score. Sullivan finished with 27 yards rushing on nine carries.
Defensively, seniors Troy Kurtz and Blake Stone both tallied five tackles while sophomore Harrison Beemiller and freshman Dominick Jackson both had four. Stone was also credited for a sack on the night (loss of 11 yards), had a tackle for a loss (two yards) and forced and recovered a fumble. Freshman Antyjuan Rodriquez also forced and recovered a fumble during the game. Andrew Karatepeyan and Theodore Scheafer also recorded sacks in the game.
With the win, the Hardrockers set the tone for the season with a 1-0 start. Next up, SD Mines will begin Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play and open up at the newly remodeled O’Harra Stadium against Dixie State on Saturday, Sept. 9 in a 6 p.m. matchup.
“We will need the ramps packed with ‘Rocker fans and the grandstands full of Grubbies when we host Dixie State in our RMAC opener on Saturday,” Tinker added.