Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
It was like pulling a loose thread on a sweater.
Fort Lewis College football stayed whole in the first quarter. But Colorado School of Mines grabbed the offending thread and slowly, methodically, unravelled the Skyhawks from the second quarter on.
The Orediggers used a 27-point second quarter to begin to eliminate doubt, then rattled off 31 after halftime to roll to a 58-16 victory over FLC in Saturday’s homecoming game at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.
The Skyhawks (0-5, 0-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) took their first lead of the season on Eric Garcia-Henderson’s 18-yard field goal and held it until the end of the first quarter. That’s when the Orediggers (4-2, 2-2 RMAC) made adjustments.
Their potent passing game began to connect as their defense began to start to push through a banged up FLC offensive line that played the first half without Antonio Alicea because of an ejection and a suspension. Estevan Lucero was injured in the first half and did not return.
Matt Brown, who threw for 415 yards and five touchdowns, hit Cody Renken for four unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter, as the nation’s No. 2 offense piled on a thin and overmatched FLC secondary.
“As coaches, as players, the next guy’s got to be prepared, so we have to coach up the next guy. ... We’ve got to be able to play ball,” FLC head coach Cesar Rivas-Sandoval said.
“There has to be a guy who comes in and produces and plays well. And that’s on me.”
Sacks were critical for Colorado Mines. The Orediggers sacked FLC quarterback Tim Jenkins five times and hurried him a multitude of times, severely disrupting the rhythm of the Skyhawks’ quick-hitting offense.
“I think what it was is we came in a little overconfident, and we took these guys a little too lightly,” wide receiver Amery Duncan said. “You can’t do that when it comes to a team like this. They put up numbers, so our offense has to come to produce, too.”
Colorado Mines held an advantage of 566-357 in total offense as the Skyhawks struggled to move the ball until late in the game despite a solid week of practice, and FLC committed three turnovers. As a result, a thin defensive unit had to spend much more time on the field than it would have liked.
FLC lost Dillon Sterling to injury, while Kaulana Waalani-Arroyo had to play despite receiving stitches early in the game.
“It hurts a lot because what we like to do is we like to tire defenses out by going uptempo, but when we go three-and-out, we can’t help the defense out,” Duncan said.
The Orediggers got touchdown passes from Brown to Diamond Gillis, a pair of touchdown runs by Zach Newnam and one by backup quarterback Joe Schneider in the second half. Jerrod Doucet had 115 yards receiving, while Renken totaled 124.
Orediggers’ kicker Avery Llewellyn enjoyed a homecoming of a different sort. The Durango High School alum, playing in front of a bevy of friends and family hit a 29-yard field goal in the third quarter and made 7 of 8 extra point attempts in his first return to his hometown as a member of the Orediggers.
“I‘ve beeen looking forward to it for awhile, going home, seeing my family, and most of all, playing,” Llewellyn said.
FLC got touchdown passes of 5 yards to Jonathan Price and 75 yards to Ethan Klaseen from Jenkins in the loss. Jenkins was 25 of 57 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
FLC got interceptions from Lucas Stafford and Lance Dettmer.
“The plays were there. You could see it out there. ... The 75-yarder on one play, that same play was there the all game long. We just weren’t clicking to get it off right,” Rivas said.