Colorado School of Mines put its potent offense on full display Saturday while wrapping up its regular season by defeating Chadron State College 70-28 in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest at Elliott Field.
The Orediggers, now 11-0, and ranked seventh in NCAA Division II, scored their first four touchdowns on pass plays while building a 28-7 lead halfway through the second quarter. Their next six touchdowns came on rushing plays while they piled up 440 yards on the ground, third most ever against the Eagles.
Their 683 total net yards are the most ever yielded by Chadron State, topping the 658 that Bemidji State managed in 2004. Mines was forced to punt just three times and also lost a fumble, but otherwise played an almost flawless game on offense.
The 70 points are the most ever scored against the Eagles aside from the 73 points that Abilene Christian posted during Chadron State’s 76-73 triple overtime win in the spectacular 2007 playoff game. The Eagles have scored at least 70 points eight times in the 100-plus years they’ve played football.
“These guys (Colorado Mines) are a top 10 team, and they acted like a top 10 team today,” said Chadron State Coach Jay Long. “When you play a team of this caliber, you need the ball to roll your way some of the time, and you also need to make big plays when they’re available. Those things didn’t happen very often today.
"This wasn't the way we wanted to end the season," Long continued. “But we bounced back from a 1-4 start and won our next five games. I'm proud of the coaching staff for keeping our guys up throughout the season, and I'm proud of the (19) seniors who played their last game today for providing an example of what it means to be an Eagle. We'll keep working to get to the next level, and admit that Mines played a great game today."
Freshman quarterback John Matocha got the Orediggers off to a great start by completing his first six passes, including touchdown tosses of 13 and 31 yards to sophomore Josh Johnston. Matocha’s third TD pass was an 18-yarder to redshirt freshman Mason Karp and the fourth was a 21-yard shot to Johnston.
Matocha finished the day with 14 completions in 19 attempts for 243 yards. Johnston caught six passes for 103 yards and Karp five for 123.
The Mines running game was led by sophomore Michael Zeman, who carried 20 times for 228 yards. His big play was a 75-yard romp up the middle that gave the Orediggers a 35-14 halftime lead. He also scored on a two-yard run in the third quarter after Mines recovered a CSC fumble and Matocha connected with Karp for a 29-yard gain.
Alternate running back Brandon Farmer also had a great game. He carried 10 times for 143 yards, including touchdown jaunts of five and 46 yards. The visitors’ other touchdowns were on a three-yard run by Dawson Johnson after Farmer had romped 72 yards and on Nathan Mackey’s 54-yard gallop that closed out the scoring with 6:37 left to play.
Placekicker Scott Marshall was good on the extra points following all 10 touchdowns. The Eagles’ Will Morgan also made all four of the PATs he attempted Saturday and finished the season by making all 32 of his extra point tries.
Chadron State scored a touchdown in each quarter.
The first came on a two-yard pass from quarterback Dalton Holst to senior wide receiver Tevon Wright to cap a 70-yard drive. The Eagles also went 72 yards in 12 plays for their second TD, a two-yard dive by sophomore Elijah Myles, who helped spark the drive with an 18-yard run. The Orediggers were called for three penalties in the drive.
Jackson Dickerson, a senior from Chadron who had been sidelined by a hip flexor injury since the second game of the season, returned to action and scored the Eagles’ third touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Holst. The big gainer in the 65-yard march were a 40-yard connection from Holst to inside receiver Cole Thurness.
Just two plays were needed to post the Eagles’ fourth quarter touchdown. They were back-to-back 44- and 31-yard passes from Holst to Wright.
Holst finished with 19 completions in 38 attempts for 241 yards and the three TDs. He ends the season with 3,106 yards through the air and 33 touchdown passes, both CSC season records and the highest in the conference this fall. He’s the first CSC quarterback to eclipse 3,000 yards passing in a season.
Wright caught nine passes for 133 yards Saturday and finished the year with 74 catches for 1,146 yards and 16 touchdown grabs. His yardage figure ranks second all-time at CSC, his touchdown total is the most in a season and led the RMAC in scoring this season with 96 points.
Wright also owns the school’s career-touchdown reception record with 26 and he finished his career with 144 receptions for 2,260 yards.
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CSC linebacker Travis Wilson led the conference with 124 tackles this season. He participated in nine Saturday, one fewer than Tyler Lewis’s total. Both Noah Kerchal and Tyree Fryar had eight, six of them solos.
The Eagles rushed for a season-low 109 yards in the finale, but that’s double what Colorado Mines had yielded per game through its first 10 games.
First Downs 23 20
Total Net Yards 683 350
Rushes, Yards 46-440 35-109
Passing Yards 243 241
Passing 14-20-0 19-38-0
Return Yards 50 75
Punts, Yards 3-46.7 8-36.2
Fumbles, Lost 3-1 2-2
Penalties, Yards 7-64 3-22
Colorado Mines 14 21 21 14 ----70
Chadron State 7 7 7 7 ----28
Rushing: CSM--Michael Zeman 20-228, Brandon Farmer 10-143, Nathan Mackey 2-58, Ben Bottlinger 1-18, Dawson Johnson 4-16, John Matocha 4-minus, team 5-minus 19. CSC--Elijah Myles 20-66, Priest Jennings 2-22, Stevann Brown 5-17, Dalton Holst 4-9, Tyler Hyland 3-minus 2, team 1-minus 3.
Passing: CSM--John Matocha 14-19-0, 243 yards, 4 TDs; Ben Bottlinger 0-1-0. CSC--Dalton Holst 19-38-0, 241 yards, 3 TDs.
Receiving: CSM--Josh Johnston 6-102, Mason Karp 5-123, Sean O’Dell 3-18. CSC--Tevon Wright 9-133, Cole Thurness 5-65, Jackson Dickerson 3-16, Brandon Fullerton 1-17, Colt Foster 1-10.
Kickoff Returns: CSM--Brandon Farmer 2-40. CSC--Cole Thurness 4-80. Punt Returns: CSC--Ethan Fray 1-minus 5.
Tackles: CSM--James Kohlschmidt 5-1, 6; Averie Mansfield 4-2-6; Kobe Brewster 5-0, 5. CSC--Tyler Lewis 6-4, 10; Travis Wilson 3-6, 9; Noah Kerchal 6-2, 8; Tyree Fryar 6-2, 8; Jeremiah Gutierrez 5-0, 5.