If there was an air of mystery to who the South Dakota School of Mines were as a football team, the Simon Fraser Clan found out the hard way against the Hardrockers on Saturday night in downtown Rapid City.
“They had a good plan offensively to take advantage of whatever it was we were giving them,” said Clan head coach Thomas Ford after the game, as the Clan’s 52-28 out-of-conference setback lowered its record to 1-2 overall on the season.
“I don’t think we tackled particularly well, and we need to make adjustments,” he continued. “We also need to get healthy We’re really banged up right now. It’s no excuse, though. Everyone is banged up and you need to win football games when you’re injured.”
The Hardrockers came out on offence and dominated at the line of scrimmage, scoring on each of their first three possessions.
First on an 83-yard drive, then on an 82-yard drive, and then on a blocked punt they took to the house for a 21-0 lead after the first quarter.
“When you look at the stats, if you block a punt, you have a 90 per cent chance to win,” offered Ford. “And if you get one blocked, it’s the opposite. That’s an area we have to clean up. The snap looked good but the operating time was too slow.”
South Dakota led 35-0 at the half, and 42-0 before senior quarterback Miles Richardson hit receiver Rysen John with a 17-yard TD pass on third-and-12 to cap an 85-yard third-quarter drive.
Clan freshman quarterback Justin Seiber came in to rousing effect in the fourth quarter, throwing three touchdown passes over a span of under four minutes as the game drew to a close.
First, SFU’s freshman linebacker Isaac Muckian recovered a fumble at the SDSM 25-yard line, and five plays later, Seiber went five yards to John for his second TD of the game.
Muckian then picked off a pass at South Dakota’s 35-yard line and returned it seven yards, setting up a 17-yard TD strike to tight end Liviano Canil.
Seiber capped the night with a 60-yard drive, highlighted by a 12 yard TD pass to tight end Christian Phillips with 38 seconds remaining.
While the Clan’s rushing game was ineffective, its passing game produced 384 yards and four touchdowns against two picks.
Richardson was 24-of-44 for 257 yards and one TD, while Seiber was 10-of-18 for 127 yards and three majors.
“There are things that both guys do really well,” said Ford, whose team prepares top face nationally-ranked Central Washington this Saturday at Fox Field.
“They are both really good players and it’s not a bad thing to have two quarterbacks. But there is no quarterback controversy. We will see Justin’s workload increase at practice, but Miles is our senior and he’s been through a lot.”
Ford, in fact, said that after enduring constant pressure and a lot of sacks over the past two years, having a little more time to operate can be disconcerting.
“He is getting used to having protection and getting through his first, second and third reads,” said Ford. “When you have two years of running for your life, old habits die hard. And Miles is even harder on himself than I am, and I am really tough with our quarterbacks. I have no doubt that he will bounce back and be more decisive in the passing game.”
John had as productive a day as you can have in such a convincing loss.
The former Irish standout caught eight passes for 86 yards and two scores.
Beneath him, Robert Meadors, Canil, Kester Iwunze and Devin O’Hea each caught at least five passes and all had between 64 and 44 yards receiving for the game.
Junior defensive back Matt Duda, an STM grad, led the defence with eight solo tackles.
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