Twice, Mines football has had a win against a top-10 opponent in its sights. And twice, victory has slipped away in the final seconds.
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In its Sept. 1 season opener at No. 5 Grand Valley State, Colorado School of Mines lost 22-25 on a last-minute Lakers touchdown pass. Its Sept. 10 home game ended much the same way, as the Orediggers lost 27-30 in overtime to No. 7 Angelo State.
While the Orediggers were slow to start, the Rams came out of the gate charging, marching down the field in a 79-yard drive over 19 plays. The Oredigger defense stopped them just short of the goal line, and senior quarterback John Matocha and the offense took over practically in their own end zone.
After a three-and-out, the Mines defense held the Rams to a 19-yard drive and a field goal with four minutes left in the first quarter.
The Orediggers scored their own field goal in the second quarter and gained some offensive momentum. With about six minutes left in the half, Mines capped off a 59-yard drive with a touchdown by senior running back Michael Zeman.
The Rams responded with a touchdown of their own before halftime. Junior running back Alfred Grear found an opening in the Oredigger defense and ran 60 yards for Angelo State’s first touchdown.
Coming out of halftime tied at 10, Angelo State was the first team to distance itself, with another 63-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Kason Philips.
The Mines offense answered back with a 75-yard drive capped by a 30-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Mason Karp.
With three minutes left in the quarter and the score tied at 17, Mines senior cornerback Mason Pierce intercepted the ball on the Rams’ 27-yard line and returned it for a touchdown.
By the start of the fourth quarter, Mines now had some much-needed breathing room at 24-17. The Oredigger defense once again held the Rams to a field goal, making it 24-20.
Taking over on their own 25-yard line with 13 minutes left, the Orediggers hoped to get another touchdown and cement a victory. However, on third-and-four at the Angelo State 16, Matocha was sacked for an eight-yard loss and the Orediggers settled for a field goal, making it 27-20.
The Rams weren’t out of the running just yet, as junior running back Nate Omayebu III found another gap in the defense and scored the tying touchdown with 1:55 left in the game.
The Rams defense forced another three-and-out from the Orediggers, but Mines responded in kind. On third-and-14 at the Mines 41, and with seconds left in regulation, senior outside linebacker Nolan Reeve hit senior quarterback Zach Bronkhorst with such force, he fumbled the ball. While Angelo State recovered it, the horn had already sounded.
Angelo State won the critical coin toss and opted to go second in overtime. Mines started with the ball 25 yards from the end zone. The Rams defense forced the Orediggers to attempt a 45-yard field goal on fourth-and-12. The field goal was wide, and hearts sank for most in Marv Kay Stadium.
The only hope for the Oredigger faithful — who had braved the afternoon’s rainy weather — was that the defense could stop the Rams’ attempt and have both teams repeat the overtime process.
While the Oredigger defense did force a field goal on fourth down, this time, Angelo State kicker Cade Fuller’s 36-yard attempt was good. Thus, the Rams claimed victory, 30-27.
Overall, rushing yards made the difference for Angelo State, racking up 264 yards versus Mines’ 106. Omayebu and Grear had 89 and 81 yards, respectively, while Zeman had the most for the Orediggers at 77.
Colorado School of Mines next travels to Adams State on Sept. 17. For live stats and free video on the RMAC Network, visit minesathletics.com.
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