Eagles bring home the Eagle Rock Trophy
CSC ended as champions on the gridiron Saturday, defeating long-time rivals South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, 37-33, bringing back the Eagle Rock Trophy.
“We hadn’t played them in so long I think most of the team didn’t know it was a rivalry,” quarterback Matt Vinson, junior of Box Elder, South Dakota, said. “But throughout the week leading up to the game, we learned more about the rivalry. It was exciting to be able to start up the rivalry game again and it turned out to be a great game.”
The Eagles and the Hardrockers rivalry began in 1912, and they last met in 1995. The teams have met a total of 65 times, including Saturday. The rivalry is known as the “Battle for the Eagle Rock Trophy.” CSC has now defeated the Hardrockers 47 times.
Saturday, Mines put six on the board on their first drive. But Zecharie James, junior of Hampton, Virginia, scooped up the fumble on the PAT attempt and ran it back 98 yards for CSC, putting two points on the board. The last time CSC scored a defensive PAT was in 2008.
After a pair of interceptions—one from CSC’s Joey Hopkins, senior of Burien, Washington, and one from SDSMT’s Dominic Martinez, senior of Gallup, New Mexico—Mines scored again to end the first quarter 13-2.
Vinson was sacked and fumbled in the first drive of the second quarter. SDSMT scored after recovering the fumble. But, on the second drive, Vinson found receiver Max Gray, redshirt sophomore of Arlington, Washington, to update the score to 19-9. SDSMT fumbled on the kickoff after the score, and defensive back Steve Allen, senior of Knoxville, Tennessee, recovered.
CSC scored on that next drive when Vinson hit Gray again for an 18-yard TD. After Mines answered with another touchdown, Vinson connected with Tevon Wright, freshman of Hialeah, Florida, to a score before halftime. The Eagles trailed 26-23 at the intermission.
“Offensively, I don’t think the game could’ve started off any worse for us,” Vinson said. “But we did a great job of responding.”
Devante Thomas, senior of Baltimore, started the second half on the right note for the Eagles intercepting Mines on the first drive. Vinson completed the Eagles first drive of the second half with another score thrown to Gray. CSC led for the first time in the game, 30-26.
The Eagles earned another offensive opportunity, thanks to Allen’s second fumble recovery of the game, but couldn’t capitalize. Mines missed a field goal in the third, allowing CSC to maintain their lead going into the final stretch.
The Hardrocker offense found the end zone early in the fourth quarter, taking back the lead, 33-30. But, Cooper Mirich, redshirt freshman of Cheyenne, Wyoming, intercepted a pass from Sullivan, which set up the final scoring drive of the game. CSC scored again with the Vinson-Gray duo to end the game on top, 37-33.
“Overall, it was a really fun game to play in,” Vinson said. “It was an exciting game and there was a great turnout. A lot of Eagle fans showed up so it was a really cool atmosphere. We were really appreciative of the support we got at the game.
“The receivers made a lot of plays for us, the O-line blocked great, the defense forced a ton of turnovers, and the special teams was great all game,” Vinson said.
Vinson finished the game with 27 of 48 for 330 yards, CSC marched 453 total offensive yards compared to SDSMT’s 470.
CSC is now 3-5 overall, 3-4 RMAC, as they head into the last stretch of games.
Saturday, the Eagles will square up with the Orediggers of Colorado School of Mines at Golden. Mines is 6-2 overall and 5-2 RMAC so far this season.
“We watched film on the game and got better and now it’s time for us to turn our attention to a really good Colorado Mines team,” Vinson said.