By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- After starting the season with two consecutive wins for the first time in over 20 years, the Hardrockers lost a couple close ones to level off at .500 with a 2-2 record. The most recent was a disappointing loss to Dickinson State last weekend, 24-3, to open the Dakota Athletic Conference season.
With that loss behind them, South Dakota Mines turns it focus to a surprisingly good Minot State Beavers squad that earned a convincing win over the 2006 conference champs, Black Hills State last weekend in Spearfish. The Beavers defeated the Yellow Jackets, 30-14.
The ‘Rockers square off with Minot Saturday at 1 p.m. on Dunham Field at O’Harra Stadium. SDM is hungry for another win and adding fuel to the fire is that it is ‘M’ Days at South Dakota School of Mines.
The Beavers are a bit deceptive with their 1-3 overall record. After losing bouts to Rocky Mountain College (21-9), Bemidji State (31-7) and Jamestown College (28-16), Minot stepped up their play last week and is a lot more explosive than they first appeared.
Minot does have some pretty solid offensive weapons, such as sophomore quarterback Jon Meier, who currently leads the conference in passing. He has completed 72 of 146 passes for 720 yards, including three touchdown passes. But he also has recorded seven interceptions on the year. There is also Nick Barks. The junior leads the ground attack for MSU with 58 carries for 270 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively the Beavers also have a couple of solid players. Senior safety Nicholas Marshall not only leads the conference in interceptions with five for the season, but he also tops the list in the nation. He is also ninth in the country for passes defended, averaging 1.8 a game.
The Hardrockers have their share of national rankings this week as well. SDM is listed in the Top 10 in seven different categories including: opponents’ third down conversions (fifth), pass defense effiency (fifth), scoring defense per game (fifth), opponent penalties (sixth), pass defense per game (sixth), punt returns yards per attempt (eighth) and total defense (eighth).
In the DAC, the Hardrockers are also first in total defense, first in pass defense and second for scoring defense. They also lead the conference in kickoff returns, averaging 23.9 each try and first in punt returns, netting 15.8 yards each attempt.
South Dakota Mines also has some impressive individual performances both in the conference as well as the NAIA. Freshman defensive back Tom Lunzman is currently second in the nation for passes defended per game (2), and is fourth in interceptions per game (averaging one a game). He is also second in the conference in interceptions and tops the list in yards after the interception with 88. Junior linebacker Tyrell Anderson leads the conference in total tackles, recording 46 total.
Offensively, junior running back Joshua Jones leads the rushing category, racking up 408 yards on the ground, averaging 102 a game. He also has three rushing TDs on the season as well. Senior Lukas Munsell is currently fourth on the receptions list, catching 18 passes for 192 yards and scoring a touchdown. Munsell also is rated second for punt returns. He has six this season for 84 yards.
Despite last week’s loss, the Hardrockers also had two DAC Player of the Week honorees. Anderson was named the defensive player of the week, recording eight solo tackles and seven assisted tackles, including 0.5 tackles-for-a-loss. Freshman Joe Sanchez was named special teams player. He had seven punts for 227 total yards, averaging 34.4 per punt.
While the SDM defense remains impressive on a week to week basis, the Hardrocker offense is still trying to reach its potential. Last week an excessive amount of fumbles hindered the team and kept them out of the end zone. Limiting the turnovers and playing mistake free football should bring the SDM offense to its full potential and make Saturday’s game a competitive DAC outing against a surging Minot squad. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
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Intercollegiate Athletics Collection\After starting the season with two consecutive wins for the first time in over 20 years, the Hardrockers lost a couple close ones to level off at .500 with a 2-2 record.pdf
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