SPEARFISH — A slow start doomed Black Hills State University as it fell 41-20 to fifth-ranked Colorado Mines in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference football game played Saturday at Lyle Hare Stadium, in Spearfish.
“We didn’t get into our groove until it was 20-0, unfortunately,” Yellow Jackets’ head coach Josh Breske said. “We’ve got to find a way to put some points on the board in the first quarter.”
Colorado Mines used Jacob Click’s 38-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead on its first possession.
Black Hills State’s first possession ended when Orediggers’ linebacker Mack Minnehan intercepted a pass.
Colorado Mines ended that ensuing drive on John Matocha’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Josh Johnston, with Click’s kick making the score 10-0 after one period.
The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out, with Colorado Mines taking over at its 13-yard line. Matocha found Johnston on a 22-yard touchdown play to cap the 11-play, 87-yard drive. The conversion put the Orediggers up 17-0 in the second quarter.
Colorado Mines’ next possession started at its 43-yard line. An eight-play drive ended with Click’s 31-yard field goal for a 20-0 Orediggers’ lead.
The Yellow Jackets took over at their 25-yard line, with three first downs helping move the ball to the Colorado Mines 26. This drive ended on Matthew Collier’s 17-yard touchdown run, with Jacob Parks’ conversion bringing Black Hills State to within 20-7.
“We leaned on our identity, which is running the ball offensively,” Breske said. He credited offensive coordinator Ben Blake for not abandoning the run game.
Colorado Mines moved from its 25-yard line to the Black Hills State 20 but faced a fourth and 20 from the 30. A pass play gained only 19 yards; the Yellow Jackets regained possession.
Black Hills State faced a fourth and 1 from the Orediggers’ 28 on its next possession. A Colorado Mines penalty gave the Yellow Jackets a first down on a drive ending with Chance Eben’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Kielar Harpham. Parks added the conversion as the Yellow Jackets trailed only 20-14 at halftime.
The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half. Colorado Mines’ opening possession ended with a missed field goal attempt.
Colorado Mines extended its lead when Matocha and Johnston hooked up for their third touchdown: this one from 29 yards. The Click conversion put the Orediggers up 27-14.
Black Hills State lost a lateral at its 35-yard line. Colorado Mines ended that drive when Matocha fired a 30-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Smith. Click’s kick extended the Orediggers’ lead to 34-14.
The Yellow Jackets cut the margin to 34-20 early in the fourth quarter when Jamin Wurtz caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Eben, and Parks kicked the extra point.
Colorado Mines ended the scoring with 2 minutes 55 seconds left when Michael Zeman found the end zone on a 13-yard run. Click added the extra point for the 41-20 final.
Black Hills State (2-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, 4-2 overall) claimed a 183-152 advantage in net rushing yards. Collier (125 yard for Black Hills State) and Zeman (116 yards) paced their respective clubs.
Colorado Mines outgained the Yellow Jackets 362-95 in passing yards. Wurtz caught three passes for 30 yards to pace Black Hills State. The Orediggers had 117 receiving yards from Smith, who caught 10 passes.
“We protected the quarterback pretty well today,” Breske said. He added the Orediggers run a 3-4 defense, like to walk up inside linebackers and cover guards, which confuses opposing offenses.
Ryder Blair collected nine total tackles for the Black Hills State defense. Nolan Reeve did likewise for Colorado Mines, now 4-0 in the conference and 6-0 overall.
Breske referenced last week’s CSU-Pueblo game along with this one. “If you’re playing the best teams in the conference, you’re going to have to find a way to score in every quarter,” he said.
The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to travel to Western Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 16.