Carson-Newman holds off Colorado Mines 27-24
Carson-Newman quarterback De’Andre Thomas breaks free on a 72-yard touchdown run against Colorado School of Mines Saturday at Campbell Field in Golden, Colo.
GOLDEN, Colo. — For a while it appeared it wouldn’t be Carson-Newman’s day.
Safety Anthony Baskin forced a Colorado School of Mines fumble, but the ball shot forward into the hands of Orediggers receiver Diamond Gillis.
Gillis scored a touchdown and helped tie the game. Instead of folding up, the No. 11-ranked Eagles forged ahead, escaping with a 27-24 win Saturday at Campbell Field.
“Probably normal people would break on that,” C-N coach Ken Sparks said. “They’d say, ‘Uh oh, this one is not to be’ but our guys kept fighting and getting it done.”
A week after getting the job done through the air, first-year starting quarterback De’Andre Thomas did the damage with this feet against the Orediggers (1-1).
Thomas erupted through the line on the second play from scrimmage, racing 73 yards down the center of the field for a touchdown.
Thomas would add another big touchdown run, a 72-yarder in the second quarter to give the Eagles (2-0) a 21-6 lead.
“We had a lot of people playing on pure guts today,” Sparks said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of weakness in our heart. That was what got it done, I think.”
What also got it done was a turnover-forcing defense. Carson-Newman intercepted Colorado Mines quarterback Matt Brown twice, once with safety Jarrett East-Brown jumping a pass and saving a touchdown in his own end zone and returning it 31 yards.
“We were in a zone coverage and they had three guys out there,” East-Brown said. “I was supposed to be on No. 2 (Jordan Ward), but I faked to No. 3 (Jimmy Ellis). I jumped back to my responsibility and the quarterback threw me the ball.”
Carson-Newman turned the ball over three times themselves, one coming right after what should have been a heartbreaking interception from Eagle linebacker Jaycob Coleman.
Coleman stole a pass down the sideline from Orediggers quarterback Matt Brown and returned it to the 10-yard-line.
On the very first play from scrimmage Thomas had trouble with the snap, giving the ball right back to Colorado Mines.
“Jaycob gave us hope and then we turn it over,” Sparks said. “That just about broke my heart. A 10-point cushion right there would have just about been a different ballgame.”
C-N held the Orediggers (1-1) to a field goal, but it tied the game 24-24 with 11 minutes to go in the game.
The Eagles had put the turnovers behind them on their final scoring drive.
Thomas orchestrated a 13-play drive that gave Carson-Newman back the lead with a 38-yard field goal from Curt Duncan.
With a little over five minutes left in the game it fell to the defense to stop Colorado Mines once again. The Eagles had harassed Brown most of the afternoon, recording consistent pressure and three sacks.
The Eagles bent but didn’t break on defense, finally forcing a missed Orediggers 46-yard field goal.
“We were well-prepared for this game,” East-Brown said. “It was an outstanding effort on defense and our offense too. Our line did an amazing job this game getting pressure situations.”
Tyron Douglas led the Eagles running backs with 16 carries for 121 yards and a score.
Brown was nearly all the offense for Colorado Mines, finishing 31-of-48 for 332 yards, two touchdowns and two picks through the air to go along with 23 carries for 133 yards and a score on the ground.
-From Contributed Reports