Orediggers rally past Cougars


GOLDEN, COLO. (USF) – Playoff football, whether winning or losing, often has a sudden effect. For some, suddenly you are winning. And, there for others, like the University of Sioux Falls Football Team (8-4), the impact of losing a heartbreaker suddenly ends its season. When Scott Marshall made a 23-yard field goal with three seconds to play, No. 7 Colorado School of Mines (12-0) took a 24-21 decision by scoring the game’s final 17 points in the NCAA DII Playoffs first round on Saturday at Marv Kay Stadium.

The Cougars led 7-0, 14-7 and 21-7 before CSM rallied late to pick up the win and move on to face Texas A&M Commerce on Nov 30 at Marv Kay Stadium.

“I am proud of the effort today and all season that this team put forth,” said USF Head Football Coach Jon Anderson, who has directed USF to the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. “We had some opportunities to extend the lead and let them get away from us. Give credit to Colorado School of Mines they made some tough plays and hit the big field goal at the end,” he said.

The loss ended the USF careers for 26 seniors including many who finished with memorable moments in the playoff today. USF Quarterback Caden Walters, who was named first team All-NSIC earlier this week, completed 9-of-16 passes for 125 yards and had a TD. He concluded his career with 497 attempts and 317 completions for 4,505 passing yards for ninth all-time at USF. With a TD throw, he tied Joe Burckhardt (1999-2001-03) for eighth on the all-time USF passing TD chart with 39. Additionally, he finished with 5,120 total yards for 12th all-time at USF.

Senior honorable mention All-NSIC linebacker Brody Grantham established a career-high with 15 tackles. Grantham who had 76 tackles this season, finished with 178 career tackles, 97 solo stops and 17 TFLs along with 4.5 sacks and two interceptions during a brilliant career with USF.

Walters led an offense which produced 367 yards on 50 plays. Against the top-ranked rush defense (50.4 ypg) and No. 9 ranked overall defense in DII, the Cougars had their way with 34 carries for 242 yards or 7.11 yards per carry. Leading USF was redshirt sophomore Thuro Reisdorfer, who rushed 166 yards on 19 carries and had two TDs. He had a 74-yard TD run and a three-yard TD reception. During the game, Reisdorfer became the 16th player in school history to crack 1,000-yard rushing and finished with 1,150 yards on 169 carries with 13 rushing TDs. He had 19 total TDs and led USF in scoring with 114 points and all-purpose yards with 1,474.

Redshirt freshman Ja’Tai Jenkins had five carries for 48 yards with a 40-yard TD run. He also had a 40-yard reception.

As for CSM, they totaled 414 yards on 78 plays and had 265 yards through the air and 149 yards rushing on 42 carries.

Aside from Grantham, USF safety Nate Durfee had a career-high 13 tackles and registered a TFL. Junior linebacker Harvey (Michael) Enalls also had a career-high 13 tackles, bettering his previous mark of 10 against Bemidji State on Oct. 6, 2018. Giovanni Purpura and Joey Wehrkamp added eight tackles each for a defense that registered five tackles for loss and two sacks.

On their opening drive, USF struck first as they moved 75 yards on eight plays with Walters hitting Reisdorfer on a 3-yard TD pass. The big play in drive was Walters’s 40-yd pass to Jenkins. With the extra point, USF took a 7-0 lead with 10:33 to play in the first quarter.

With 35 seconds left in the first quarter, Jenkins scored on a 40-yard run as the Cougars front wall opened a gap on the right side of the CSM defensive front for a score that provided USF with a 14-0 lead as the second quarter began.

In the second quarter, Matocha scored on a five-yard run which he squeezed into the right corner of the end zone. His score came at the 10:48 mark as part of a 10-play, 61-yard scoring drive.

Neither team was able to put any other points until the second half. With 9:30 to play in the third quarter, Reisdorfer broke free and raced 74-yards for a touchdown which gave USF a 21-7 advantage.

However, Mines would answer with 17 unanswered points. With 2:13 to play in the third quarter, Matocha connected with Zach Peterson on a five-yard TD pass to culminate an eight-play, 46-yard scoring drive.

At the 6:23 mark of the fourth quarter, Matocha hit Garrett Hyles on an eight-yard TD throw and with the extra point tied the game at 21-21. After USF was unable to move the ball, CSM used nearly the entire remainder of the game clock – 4:59 of the 5:02 as they moved the ball 77 yards in 14 plays to set up Marshall for the game-winner in the first-ever matchup with the Orediggers and Cougars.

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