After being frustrated for the past nine quarters, things did not look promising for the Orediggers as they trailed winless Fort Lewis College 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. But, all that pent up frustration turned into an offensive explosion in a 27-point second quarter that led to a 58-16 win over the Skyhawks Saturday in Durango, Colorado.
Fort Lewis entered the game giving up over 53 points per contest, but did not look the part, as the Skyhawks held Mines to just 2.3 yards per play during the first quarter. The two teams traded punts to open the game before Fort Lewis mounted an 11-play, 43-yard drive that ended with a red zone field goal to put the home team ahead 3-0.
Once the second quarter rolled around, senior receiver Cody Renken and the Mines offense found their stride, as Renken caught a school-record four touchdowns in the second quarter alone, giving Mines the 27-3 advantage heading into halftime. Renken finished the game with four touchdown receptions, a career high for a single game, and fell just one shy of the school record of five touchdown receptions in one game.
After being held to just 387 total yards of offense last week (over 200 fewer than their season average), the offense finally found their rhythm against Fort Lewis. Mines finished the game with 566 yards of total offense on an incredible 100 plays from scrimmage. Quarterback Matt Brown threw for 415 yards on 59 attempts and had five touchdowns and two interceptions in the win. Renken was on the receiving end of most of those throws, finishing with 124 yards on 11 receptions and his four touchdowns. Senior Jerrod Doucet added 115 yards on 14 receptions while David Pawelek had six catches for 89 yards and sophomore Diamond Gillis added seven catches for 85 yards and a touchdown.
With injuries sidelining two Oredigger running backs, Mines was forced to be imaginative on the ground Saturday as six different players saw action, combining for a total of 144 yards. As a result, senior fullback Zach Newnam saw the majority of the carries and finished with 46 yards and two touchdowns, the first of his career. Sophomore tight end Court Pietra added 32 yards rushing on eight carries.
The Oredigger defense held up on their end of the field as well, limiting the Skyhawks to 16 points on 357 total yards and forcing three key turnovers. Interceptions by Ryan Wood and Shawn Kobylinsky, a fumble recovery by Rylan Hess, and a pair of fourth down stops added to Mines’ momentum and put to rest any thought of a Fort Lewis comeback.
After suffering two consecutive losses to New Mexico teams in the past two weeks, Mines responded with a strong win to avoid what would have been their first three game losing streak in nearly a decade. Instead, the Orediggers improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the RMAC. They continue their season next Saturday as they host reigning RMAC champions and second-ranked CSU-Pueblo at Campbell Field in Golden.