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South Dakota School of Mines & Technology's Jake Sullivan narrowly escapes tackle to make a 61-yard touchdown during the Sept. 23 game at Black Hills State University.

Hannah Hunsinger, Journal staff

To say that teams in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference can put up some points might be an understatement.

All three area teams — Black Hills State, South Dakota School of Mines and Chadron State College — have been in some shootouts in this first half of the season.

Last week, the Yellow Jackets battled back — again — from a 34-20 halftime deficit to run past New Mexico Highlands 50-40. Mines came back from a 24-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, but finished just short, losing 52-44 to Adams State. Two weeks ago the Eagles absolutely throttled Adams State 73-26.

Black Hills State traveled to Las Vegas — New Mexico, that is — to face Highlands. After trailing by 14 points at the half, the Yellow Jackets scored 30 points in the second half to pull away. Phydell Paris and Shandon Jones each had three touchdowns for Black Hills State, with Ryan Hommel throwing five touchdown passes.

Of the Yellow Jackets three wins (3-2), BHSU trailed Adams State 31-3 at halftime (winning 47-41 in two overtimes) and South Dakota School of Mines 24-6 at halftime before winning 25-24.

Down 34-20 against Highlands ... a piece of cake.

For the Hardrockers, the odds of seeing a high-scoring game with Adams State (40.0 points per game average) were very likely. It was.

After Mines tied the game at 28-28 early in the third, the Grizzlies scored 24 straight points for what looked like a runaway win. But Mines battled back to pull within eight and were inches from potentially the game-tying score. True freshman receiver Brandon LeBrie, who caught a 38-yard pass from Jake Sullivan to inside the 1-yard line, took the hand off from Sullivan, and in trying to reach the ball out past the goal-line, had it knocked away, recovered by Adams State to thwart the score with just 30 seconds remaining in the game.

The two teams combined for 1,122 yards.

Two weeks ago against Adams State, the Eagles scored 51 points in the first half and put up 495 yards of total offense in scoring 73 points. Unfortunately for Chadron State last week, the Eagles were on the wrong end of a blowout, as it fell to Humboldt state in a non-conference game in Arcata, California, 56-13. The loss dropped the Eagles to 3-2 overall.

The power teams in the conference — Colorado Mesa, Colorado State-Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines — have been known to score a point or two themselves.

Colorado Mines crushed Highlands 70-0, CSU-Pueblo dominated Highlands 56-13 and Mesa thumped Western 49-23.

Of the 30 games that involve RMAC teams (five non-conference game included), there has been a combined 1,813 points scored, an average of 60.4 points between the two teams per game. Of the 25 league games played to date, there have been 1,370 points scored, an average of 54 points put on the board per game between the two teams.

There have been a couple of snoozers, as far as offense is concerned, with  two games of a combined 30 points scored or less. Fort Lewis beat Black Hills State 17-13 and Dixie State got past Western State 17-12.

But that is just two of a bunch.

Impressive as the conference offenses are, could it also be not so impressive defenses? You would have to throw Highlands in that category, as the Cowboys are giving up an average of 41 points a game.

Let’s call it a little of both, but in most cases good offenses trump (or trample) bad defenses.

Last week in the RMAC

In other non BHSU, SD Mines and Chadron State games, No. 14 CSU-Pueblo hosted No. 21 Colorado Mesa for the NCAA Division II Showcase Game in Pueblo, Colorado. Shown on WatchESPN and the ESPN app, the game didn’t disappoint. Special teams shined for both teams. CSU-Pueblo kicker Mitchell Carter went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts (47-yard long) and 3-for-3 on extra points and punter Tanner Cuda helped reverse the field on multiple occasions, including on an impressive 77-yard punt.

Colorado Mesa held its own with Virnel Moon scoring on a 97-yard kickoff return. Pueblo came away with a tough 30-24 win to move to 4-0 in RMAC play, and 4-1 overall. Colorado Mesa, with its first loss of the season, fell to 4-1.

Colorado School of Mines held Fort Lewis scoreless for three quarters, earning a big 41-7 victory. Several Orediggers had an exceptional game. Cameron Mayberry rushed for 122 yards, including a career-high 74-yard touchdown run, marking his fourth consecutive game rushing for over 100 yards. Kicker Grayson Harris hit a career-high 52-yard field goal. Colorado School of Mines is now 3-2, while Fort Lewis falls to 1-4.

Dixie State, which has struggled on the road this season, came back from a 9-0 deficit against Western State in Gunnison, Colo., led by Sei-J Lauago’s 111 rushing yards and one touchdown. Lauago is the first Dixie State player of the season to eclipse 100 yards in back-to-back games. Dixie State in now 2-2 in conference matchups and 2-3 overall, while the Mountaineers remain winless at 0-5.

RMAC Players of the Week

Offense

Brandon LaBrie, South Dakota Mines

LaBrie hauled in 11 catches, a season best, for 182 yards and two touchdowns. LaBrie led the RMAC in Week 5 in receptions and was third in scoring. For the season, he leads the RMAC in catches with 32 and is third in the conference with 514 receiving yards.

Defense

Nick Bundy, Adams State

Bundy picked up the slack for the Adams Defense, who’s missing starter Garrett Jackson, with 11 solo tackles, 14 total tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss.

Special Teams

Mitchell Carter, CSU-Pueblo

Carter, a redshirt-freshman, was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points to total 12 points in the 30-24 victory against No. 21 Colorado Mesa. His long field goal went for a season-best 47 yards. Carter’s second came from 37 yards out, while the third was 18 yards and gave the Pack a 30-24 lead with three minutes left in the game. He added 374 yards on six kickoffs to average 62.3 yards per kick.

RMC Statistical Leaders

Rushing  (rushes, yards, yards per game)

1. Cameron Mayberry, CSM 106-687, 137.4

2. Phydell Paris, BHSU 129-622, 124.4

3. Kevin Thompson, SDSMT 110-554, 110.8

4. Corey Brown, ASU 93-543, 108.6

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5. D. Tann, CMU 84 491,  98.2

Passing (completions, attempts, yards, yards per game)

1. Nick Rooney, ASU 113-192, 1,484, 371.0

2. Jake Sullivan, SDSMT 103-174, 1,267, 253.4

3. Dalton Holst, CSC, 99-187, 1,229, 245.8

4. Ryan Hommel, BHSU, 69-138, 964, 241.0

5. Eystim Salum, CMU, 73-127, 1,158, 231.6

Receiving (catches, yards, yards per game) 

1. Brandon LaBrie, SDSMT,  32-514, 128.5

2. Chad Hovasse, ASU 31-553, 110.6

3. Marquese Surrel, ASU, 31-528, 105.6

4. Brody Oliver, CSM 30-474, 94.8

5. Jackson Dickerson, CSC 38-397, 79.4

Tackles (solo, assisted, total)

1. Thayer Sauter, BHSU 24-41, 65 

2. Garrett Jackson, ASU 31-14, 45

3. Brandon Payer, CSU-P 34-18 52 

4. Darrian Stickney, FLC 21-23, 44 

5. Blake Stone, SDSMT, 18-25, 43 

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.