Steven Wooldridge / Oredigger
After battling to the final possession in close games for the past two weeks, the Orediggers regained their passing dominance and erased any concern about a third straight down-to-the-wire game as they cruised past Fort Lewis College 38-11 on Homecoming weekend at Campbell Field.
Mines dominated nearly every statistical category, gaining 511 yards of total offense en route to their victory. Clay Garcia, one week after passing for less than 200 yards for only the second time in his career, responded by slicing up the Fort Lewis defense for 353 yards. On the day, Garcia completed 79.5% of his passes and tossed only eight incompletions in his three quarters of play.
The game started slowly for both teams, as neither was able to crack the scoreboard until late in the first quarter, when Garcia found redshirt freshman Diamond Gillis wide open in the corner of the endzone to give the Orediggers a lead they would not relinquish. Mines continued to build on that lead, scoring their third straight touchdown on a 54 yard bomb to Jerrod Doucet, putting CSM ahead 21-0 just before the half.
Fort Lewis finally cracked the scoreboard after the Skyhawks recovered a Dan Palmer fumble deep in Oredigger territory and kicked a last second field goal to close the gap to 21-3 at the break.
On their first drive of the second half, Fort Lewis fed off of their momentum and methodically drove down the field for a quick touchdown. The Skyhawks threatened to make the game competitive after a successful two point conversion put the score within 10, at 21-11. That was the closest Fort Lewis ever came as the remainder of the second half was dominated on both sides of the ball by the Orediggers.
Mines added two more touchdown passes and a 42 yard field goal from Colin Baker to bring the final score to 38-11. In the last two weeks, Fort Lewis has been outscored 85-11 and has yet to win an RMAC game.
The underlying story of the game may have been the use of backup quarterback Matt Brown as a wide receiver. It was Brown’s second game as a wide out, and in the two contests, he has caught 14 passes for 178 yards and led the team with three touchdowns. On Saturday, Brown caught two touchdown passes and nearly had a third as Mines’ Broncos-inspired decision began to pay off.
Junior Dan Palmer led the Orediggers in the running game with 57 yards on 13 carries. Freshman Tevin Champagne, in just his second semester at Mines, averaged 6.1 yards per carry, gaining 49 yards on 8 carries.
In receiving, David Pawalek led all players with 102 yards, Brown finished with 91 yards and two touchdowns, Doucet added 71 yards and a touchdown, and Gillis had 55 yards with a touchdown.
Defensively, Mines was suffocating, apart from the third quarter touchdown drive by the Skyhawks. In 11 drives, the Mines defense forced five punts, forced two turnovers, and stopped the Skyhawks on two fourth down conversions.
Jerrad McKay and Josh Ruff led Mines with seven tackles each while Alex Vigil and Tyler Denson each added six. On Fort Lewis’ first drive, defensive back Bumni Adetutu delivered a bone-crunching hit that forced a fumble and halted a long Skyhawk drive. Later in the third, safety Ryan earned Mines’ other turnover, diving out of bounds for an interception.
Mines also continues to have a solid season in the special teams department. Placekicker Colin Baker converted easily on a 42 yard field goal and made all five of his point-after attempts. Kickoff specialist Russell Barrios performed well on kickoffs, but his most impressive feat was his two punts for 105 yards, replacing starting punter Taylor Accardi.
The win moved CSM to 4-1 overall, 3-1 in the RMAC. Fort Lewis dropped to 1-4, 0-3 in the RMAC. The Orediggers continue their season at CSU-Pueblo October 6 at 6:00 PM at the Neta and Eddie Derose Thunderbowl. The game is the NCAA Division II game of the week and will be nationally televised on CBS College Sports Network.