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RAPID CITY, SD — It was 100 years in the making, but it was worth it for the South Dakota School of Mines football program as the Hardrockers defeated the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers, 37-29, Saturday afternoon in an Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference matchup on Dunham Field at O’Harra Stadium in Rapid City, S.D.
It was the first time in program history that the Hardrockers had won over their Colorado counterparts (1-16) dating back 100 years (Oct. 27 1917).
It took 10 minutes of play in the first quarter before an intense stalemate was broken when Colorado Mines found the end zone on a 12 play 95 yard drive when Ben Bottlinger hooked up with Riley Hoff from 15 yards out (Garyson Harris PAT) followed by a 47 yard field goal from Harris at the 2:09 mark to give the Orediggers a 10-0 edge.
The Hardrockers clawed their way back to open the second quarter and made good on a 13-play 75-yard drive when quarterback Jake Sullivan hit wide receiver Ian Anderson over the middle for a touchdown. Enis Sefa added the extra point as SD Mines closed the deficit, 10-7, with 12:15 left in the half.
Colorado Mines answered on the next drive, going 93 yards and ending with a Garrett Hyles rushing touchdown. A failed two-point conversion put the visitors in front, 16-7 with 7:13 to play in the half.
Again the Hardrockers answered with a 72-yard advance that was capped off by Sullivan scrambling in from two-yards out. Sefa added the PAT as SD Mines pulled to within two points, 16-14 at the 4:32 mark of the second quarter.
The Orediggers added another TD with just 49 ticks left in the half when Zach Guy rumbled in from a yard out and Harris added the point after to extend their advantage, 23-14.
The Hardrockers added one final score of the first half. Getting into field goal range on a 39 yard drive. Sefa made good on a 37-yard field goal to close out the half after the ball hit the top of the left upright and took a fortunate bounce.
The third quarter was all about defense as the Colorado Mines staled two SD Mines drives and kept the home team out of the end zone. The Hardrockers did get points in the third quarter thanks to Sefa’s leg. The relief kicker provided six points on a 39-yard attempt and a 19-yard attempt and tied the game at 23-23 with 1:14 remaining in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter set up to be a dramatic one. The Hardrockers took their first lead of the game at the 8:46 mark when running back Dorian Cowart bulldozed his way into the end zone from a yard out after the ‘Rockers advanced the ball 70 yards on six plays. Sefa added the point after and the ‘Rockers were on top, 30-29.
Colorado Mines then went 70 yards on six plays as Hoff caught a 22-yard TD reception from Bottlinger. It looked as the Orediggers were going to knot the game once again, but the PAT attempt was blocked when JJ Banks got a hand on the ball.
With 7:12 remaining, the Hardrockers held a one-point edge, 30-29.
SD Mines extended its advantage on the next drive when Sullivan hit wide receiver Jermaine Williams on a 29-yard TD pass after a six-play 75-yard drive. Sefa added the extra point and the Hardrockers went up by eight, 37-29.
The Orediggers had one last opportunity to tie the game, but SD Mines corner back EJ Deveux played spoiler when he intercepted a Colorado Mines pass in the end zone with 1:24 left in the game which was the pickaxe through the heart.
Looking at the team statistics, the Hardrockers had 537 total yards of offense to 485 from the Orediggers. SD Mines tallied 196 on the ground and 341 through the air. Colorado Mines finished with 382 passing and 103 rushing yards. Both teams punted five times in the game.
Another glaring stat was turnovers. SD Mines did not commit any while the ‘Diggers had an INT as well as a fumble.
Individually, Sullivan had another fine day. He was the game’s top rusher, carrying the ball 26 times for 120 yards and a score. He also was 24-50 for 334 yards passing with two scores.
Cowart pulled double-duty as well hauling in seven passes for 112 yards and also rushed the ball 10 times for 33 yards and a score.
Brandon LaBrie finished with nine catches for 98 yards and Williams had five receptions for 88 yards and a score.
Defensively, Antyjuan Rodriquez put forth a great effort leading the ‘Rockers with nine total tackles and broke up two passes. Marken Vilson also performed well recording eight tackles and broke up four passes. Blake Stone and Andrew Karatepeyan both had seven tackles. Harrison Beemillerand Michael Retland both came up with sacks in the game.
“I am so proud of our team, our coaches and our school for getting the monkey off our back and beating a quality Colorado Mines team today,” said Hardrocker football head coach Zach Tinker. “All three phases of the game contributed today and our toughness showed in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line and we made the winning plays.”
The win gives the Hardrockers a 4-3 mark on the season and 3-3 mark in the conference. Next up, the ‘Rockers head to Nebraska for a RMAC bout against the Chadron State Eagles Saturday at 12 p.m.