GOLDEN, Colo. – Despite holding a 34-13 lead at the break the Colorado School of Mines football team had to hold off a late charge by Western State who scored 20 second-half points on Saturday afternoon in RMAC action at Campbell Field.
Mines marched right down the field on its first drive as the Orediggers completed four straight passes helping them move into the red zone. On third on goal, Clay Garcia found Eric Shannon in the corner of the end zone to make it 7-0.
The Mountaineers turned around and evened the game on their first drive as Jamie Jensen connected with L.A. McGee for a 31- yard touchdown.
Western State came into the game averaging just 53.3 rushing yards per game but in one play Chase Yaeger broke a 52-yard run moving WSC into CSM territory. However, a pair of penalties stalled the drive as the Mountaineers came away with just a field goal but took a 10-7 lead.
A big kick return by Tevin Champagne gave Mines the ball in Western State territory at the 31 on the next drive. Garcia hooked up with Diamond Gillis for 20 yards moving Mines inside the five and Matt Brown finished off the drive with three-yard touchdown pass as CSM took the lead back at 13-10.
Garcia was 6-of-7 on the Orediggers next drive which included a 27-yard strike to Brown and Dan Palmer finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run as the Orediggers lead 20-10.
On the next drive, Western State started with the ball deep in its own territory and on the first play Henry Kaetzer intercepted Jensen at the 12 bringing the ball to the two-yard line where Palmer finished it off with another touchdown run.
Mines led 27-10 and the Mountaineers added another field goal this time from 50 yards courtesy of Lloyd Tucker. Garcia again connected with Gillis for another 20-plus yard pass to put Mines into WSC territory. Palmer again capped off the drive with his third touchdown of the day just before the half giving Mines a 34-13 lead.
A 51-yard pass from Jensen to McGee opened up the scoring in the second half pulling Western State within a pair of touchdowns at 34-20.
CSM answered as Jordan Ward got in behind the Western State secondary scoring a 49-yard touchdown to increase Mines' lead back to 41-20.
The Mountaineers were not done though as they orchestrated a 13-play drive scoring on a five-yard touchdown catch by Curtis Prock cutting into the lead at 41-27.
Western State began driving again but Justin Neal intercepted a ball near field and returned it all the way to the two-yard line. Garcia would then scramble into the end zone for the score less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Western State offense, which came into the game ranked last in the RMAC in total offense at just 241.7 yards per game, put together a 14-play drive as Prock caught his second touchdown of the day to make it 48-33.
On the next CSM possession, Western State picked off Garcia in the end zone taking the ball back with 5:59 remaining in the game. A personal foul penalty on Mines and a pass interference call quickly put the Mountaineers inside Mines' 30-yard line. Down inside the 20, the Oredigger defense came up with a big fourth and one stop to end the threat and the game.
Yaeger rushed for 137 yards in the loss for Western State. Jensen threw four touchdown passes connecting with Prock and McGee twice in the game. Cole Waliczek had a game-high 12 tackles. Demo Schmidt recorded eight tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Garcia finished the game completing 27-of-39 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns. Gillis finished with over 100 yards receiving for the second consecutive game and 205 all-purpose yards. Ward caught five passes for 81 yards. Palmer brought his season total for touchdowns to 16 rushing as he rushed for 71 yards and three scores.
Jarrad McKay led the CSM defense with eight total tackles including 1.5 for a loss. Neal, Alex Vigil and Kaetzer each had seven tackles. Mines broke up seven passes, had two picks and 5.0 tackles for a loss in the win.
The Orediggers (6-2, 4-2 RMAC) will play in Alamosa, Colo. against Adams State next Saturday, Oct. 29th at 1:00 pm. Mines will play its final regular season home game on Saturday, Nov. 5th against Chadron State at 12:00 pm.