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Skyhawks hang tough early, but Hardrockers eventually roll

FLC to host Mesa for homecoming on Saturday
The Fort Lewis College football team played a hard-fought game against South Dakota Mines on Saturday. Mines, however, scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to win the game, 42-7. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The Fort Lewis College football team played toe-to-toe with South Dakota Mines through the game’s opening 30 minutes but couldn’t overcome a tough second half in a 42-7 road loss to the Hardrockers.

Fort Lewis (0-6) put themselves in a good position at the break against South Dakota Mines (4-2 overall, 2-2 RMAC), trailing just 14-7 and scheduled to receive the second-half kickoff in a one-possession game.

“We’re still trying to piece these things together. You can see the building blocks, where we’ll play well for a full quarter or a half, but we still have a ways to go to formulate a team that can put together four strong quarters of football,” said FLC head football coach Darrius G. Smith.

Dylan Holt scored FLC’s touchdown. Holt drew a 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty to pick up a first down, then blew the top off the Hardrockers’ secondary on back-to-back 29-yard completions; the second deep ball from sophomore quarterback Brayden Miller put the Skyhawks on the scoreboard with 11:16 remaining in the half.

Riding the momentum, the FLC defense rose up and forced a turnover on downs on the Hardrockers next possession. The Skyhawks’ offense marched out to midfield with a chance to tie the game before the end of the half, but had the drive stall and settled for a 14-7 score at the break.

In the second half, the Skyhawks were unable to get the offense back on track as key penalties and eight sacks by the South Dakota Mines defense kept FLC behind the chains much of the final 30 minutes.

“Sacks and penalties are drive stoppers. And if you can't overcome them, you are literally playing behind the sticks,” Smith said.

The Hardrockers' offense took advantage, scoring the game's final 28 points in the second half — 14 points in each the third and fourth quarters — to seal the 42-7 final.

Offensively, Holt led FLC with three catches for 66 yards and the touchdown. Miller finished 9-of-12 through the air for 102 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers.

Jeff Hansen rushed 12 times for 31 yards, and Emmanuel Nwosu added 10 carries for a net of 29 yards.

Defensively, redshirt freshman linebacker Fred Mady III led all Skyhawks with 11 total tackles, and freshman Josiah Flores tallied a career-high 10.

Helms finished with nine tackles to go with his second interception of the season.

Fort Lewis is now 0-6, 0-5 RMAC. Mines improved to 4-2, 2-2.

The Skyhawks will next host Colorado Mesa University at noon Saturday for the team’s homecoming game.

FLC Athletics will honor inductees from the Class of 2021 FLC Athletics Hall of Fame at halftime, including the 1984 football team (RMAC Champions) and the program's all-time leading rusher, Joe Moore.