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South Dakota School of Mines football team came very close Saturday to defeating the No. 23 ranked team in the nation, and although they competed very well against an upper tier squad, the ‘Rockers just couldn’t capitalize down the stretch on a cold and wet October afternoon
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY ‐‐‐ The South Dakota School of Mines football team came very close Saturday to defeating the No. 23 ranked team in the nation, and although they competed very well against an upper tier squad, the ‘Rockers just couldn’t capitalize down the stretch on a cold and wet October afternoon.
The SDM Hardrockers fell to the Jamestown College Jimmies, 27‐19, Saturday at O’Harra Stadium in a Dakota Athletic Conference matchup to fall to 4‐2 on the season and 2‐1 in conference play.
“Saturday’s game was a real opportunity to show where we are in the league,” said Hardrocker head coach Dan Kratzer. “We were competing against the defending conference champion. It was a big game for us and the weather conditions were basically in no one’s favor.”
The ‘Rockers did draw first blood after receiving the ball in great field position, capped off a short‐field drive when quarterback Nick Russell (freshman from San Diego, Calif.) bulled his way in for six points from a yard out. Sophomore kicker Justin Whalin (Rapid City, S.D.) tacked on the extra point.
“There were a lot of momentum changes in the game,” Kratzer said. “It started when our special teams unit made a big play (in first quarter) and our offense came in and capitalized on that.”
Jamestown knotted the game at 7‐7 at the end of the first quarter and a short time later connect on a big TD strike to go up, 14‐10. SD Mines then got a 35‐yard field goal from new addition sophomore Andy Smith (Pierre, S.D.). The Jimmies added another long touchdown run to lead 21‐10, but the Hardrockers earned three more points with a 22‐yard field goal to go into halftime down by eight points, 21‐13.
Both sides exchanged blows in the third quarter, slugging it out at midfield, but then the home team came up with a big defensive play sacking the Jamestown QB and causing a fumble. Senior Jarred Luze scooped up the ball and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. It’s the second defensive score in two weeks for the Hardrockers. The two‐point conversion failed as Jamestown held a slight edge, 21‐19.
And just as the momentum swung to SDM’s side of the field it would quickly swing the other way as a short time later an interception was returned back for a Jamestown score as the visitors went up, 27‐19, after a failed two‐point conversion. The Hardrockers were unable to mount a comeback and that’s the way the game would end.
Individually, Hardrocker freshman Jamie Dale (Alpine, Calif.) might have been held out of the end zone for the first time this season, but he still managed 100 yards on the day on 28 carries. The cold and rainy conditions also played a factor in the pass game as Russell was limited in what he could do, throwing for just 109 yards completing 11 of 29 passes and committing three interceptions.
Freshman Tyler Barth (Dickinson, N.D.) was the primary receiver Saturday, catching six passes for 60 yards. Defensively, the Hardrockers did a very good job against one of the league’s top ranked offense. SDM had four interceptions on the day. Sophomore Tom Lunzman (Gretna, Neb.) notched two for 18 yards, junior Zach Marcus(Olivia, N.D.) recorded one off a tipped pass and senior Chad Westendorf (Geddes, S.D.) also nabbed one when the Jimmies were about to score a touchdown.
Westendorf led the ‘Rockers in tackles with 16. Along with his INT he had two pass breakups and one long tackle for a loss when the Jimmies botched a punt. Marcus recorded a sack on the day, as did sophomore Tim Luchini (Findlay, Ohio) and freshman Eric Yeash (Louisville, Colo.). Sophomore Joe Berke had one of his better games as well, recording nine tackles, three were for a loss. He also got a sack in the game.
“In the second half we played an outstanding game defensively. The special teams unit got us in real good position a few times as well,” Kratzer said. “But the offensive giving up six points on an interception ‐‐‐ that has been our nemesis this year.
“It was a good football game to watch and it was a good football game to coach. The kids played extremely hard.”
The Hardrockers hit the road this weekend, traveling to Minot, N.D. to face the 3���3 Beavers. MSU is 2‐1 in the conference along with SD Mines and the Jimmies. Both Black Hills State and Dickinson State lead the conference with 3‐0 marks.
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