The Orediggers were rude hosts Saturday, spoiling the RMAC debut of the Black Hills State University Yellow Jackets with a 42-19 win at Campbell Field in Golden. BHSU (0-2 overall, 0-1 RMAC) started off their first conference game well, forcing a fumble on Mines’ first offensive series and converting the turnover into a touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead. But, after trading punts on the next two possessions, Mines (3-0, 1-0) would respond as Oredigger quarterback Matt Brown found David Pawelek for a 10 yard touchdown on the final play of the first quarter to even the score at 7-7.
On the Yellow Jackets’ next drive, Oredigger senior linebacker Henry Kaetzer intercepted a pass from Ward Anderson and set up the Mines offense near midfield. Brown immediately connected with senior wide receiver Cody Renken on a 27-yard reception and four plays later, Brown punched in a one-yard touchdown run to give Mines the lead. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
After forcing a BHSU punt, sophomore Tevin Champagne would increase the lead to 21-7 on the Orediggers’ next possession finishing an 11-play, 54-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Running back Dan Palmer nearly added another touchdown at the end of the second quarter, but lost a fumble near the BHSU goal line. Mines headed into the break with a 21-7 advantage.
Trailing by 14, BHSU entered the second half poised for a comeback. And they did not waste any time. On the opening possession, the Yellow Jackets capped a three play, 75 yard drive with a 56-yard touchdown pass that closed the gap to 21-13. The Yellow Jackets would remain close for the majority of the third quarter, until Brown added another touchdown run and found Pawelek for another score to blow the game wide open at 35-13. Renken would then catch a 35-yard touchdown pass from Brown in the fourth. BHSU would add one more touchdown to round out the scoring at 42-19.
In his first ever RMAC start at quarterback, Brown finished with five touchdowns, three through the air and two on the ground. He finished with 407 yards passing and is on pace to finish his first year with over 4000 yards passing.
After surrendering a fumble on the first series of the game, Renken made up for the miscue, exploding for 14 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown, just narrowly missing the school record for receptions in a game (15). Pawelek added eight receptions for 74 yards and two scores while Jerrod Doucet had four catches for 68 yards and Diamond Gillis had six catches for 63 yards.
Defensively, junior linebacker Tyler Denson led the Orediggers with a career-high 12 tackles. Kaetzer and Ian McFadden each added seven apiece.
For the No. 23 Orediggers, it was a solid start to the conference schedule. After falling behind early, Mines simply outran the Yellow Jackets, keeping them at arms-length until the fourth quarter.
Other than a few explosive plays, it was a solid game in all aspects, from offense to defense to special teams. Senior punter and pre-season All-American Taylor Accardi turned in a highlight-reel performance, averaging 54.7 yards on seven punts, six of which landed inside the 20. Of those six punts, four landed inside the six yard line, including a 58 yard punt that landed at the two and another that was downed at the one. In a game that remained close throughout the first three quarters, Accardi made life extremely difficult for the Yellow Jackets and set the pace for the rest of the team.
Mines continues its RMAC schedule and looks to improve upon its undefeated record as the Orediggers take on New Mexico Highlands, Saturday, September 22, in Las Vegas, New Mexico.