Final home game Saturday, November 14
by Garrett Finke
Western State Colorado University football came back from being down by 14 points twice on Saturday against the 21st-ranked Colorado School of Mines Orediggers. The Mountaineers took control of the game late in the third and never looked back.
Western defeated CSM 45-42, earning their fourth Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference win, the most conference wins for Western football since 2003. Western (4-6, 4-4 RMAC) has now won five of their last six games. For CSM (7-3, 5-3 RMAC), it’s their third straight loss after starting the season with seven consecutive wins. It was the first victory for the Mountaineers over CSM since 2006.
“We bounced back all day and responded series-for-series with a darn good football team,” Western head coach Jas Bains said. “We came up with turnovers on defense and our offense put up points. I’m proud of the way we played today.”
Western running back Austin Ekeler (Jr., Eaton, Colo.) had another career game for the Mountaineers. The junior ran for 233 yards on 30 carries, averaging 7.8 yards, breaking the all-time career rushing record with 4,346 yards. Ekeler tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns in Western history after finding the end zone four times. With 24 points scored in the game, Ekeler now has the second-most career points in school history with 270 and the second-most career rushing touchdowns with 40. Only Bill Rhodes has more points with 324 and more rushing touchdowns with 54.
While Ekeler provided much of the offense for the Mountaineers, Western’s defense came through in crunch time. Despite giving up 496 yards through the air against one of Division II’s best quarterbacks in Justin Dvorak, Western forced two interceptions, turning the tide of the game. Dvorak had thrown just four in the previous eight games played. Mountaineer defensive backs Jade Gale (Sr., Colorado Springs) and Isaiah Jackson (Jr., Oxnard, Calif.) earned the interceptions for Western.
Western went down 14-0 to start the game, before coming back to tie it at the 12:49 mark of the second quarter. The Orediggers responded with 14 more points and it seemed the Mountaineers would go into the break down by that deficit. However, Western put the ball in the end zone with 3:10 left in the first half. Ekeler accounted for all three touchdowns in the first half.
After a Ryan Winke (Jr., Arvada, Colo.) 37-yard field goal to start the second half, Brett Arrivey (Jr., Woodinville, Wash.) connected with wide receiver Kyle Adkins (Jr., Woodinville, Wash.) on two straight scores to put Western ahead 38:28 with 10:11 left to play. A late touchdown by Mines put them down three points 38-35 with 2:39 left to play. Ekeler would secure the victory for the Mountaineers by responding with a 41-yard touchdown, to put the game out of reach.
Arrivey threw for 297 yards and two touchdown passes for Western. Adkins caught both of Arrivey’s touchdown passes. Adkins totaled 140 yards receiving, a career best for the junior. Leading the Mountaineer defensive charge was linebacker Jordan Woodyard (Jr., Colorado Springs). Woodyard recorded 16 tackles, including one tackle for a loss and a half sack.
Western will play their final game of the season next Saturday against the Colorado Mesa University Mavericks at 1 p.m. in Mountaineer Bowl.