The much-anticipated kickoff to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference football season looked a bit different than usual. But despite just having four teams in action, one was a very familiar rivalry — the oldest in DII football as a matter of fact.
DII FOOTBALL RIVALRIES: The Black Hills Brawl and the other 10 most played rivalries
The RMAC is back in DII football
Colorado Mesa 10, Chadron State 7 (OT): It took a few extra weeks for the RMAC to get back on the field and it treated its fans with some extra football in its first game of the season. The Mavericks gave new head coach Tremaine Jackson a victory in his Colorado Mesa debut thanks to Lucas Ruiz-Diaz’s 38-yard game-winning field goal.
South Dakota Mines 34, Black Hills State 17
Another first-year head coach started off perfect, as the Hardrockers gave Charlie Flohr is first career head coaching win. Freshman transfer quarterback Jayden Johannsen had a strong debut for the Hardrockers and running back Ahmad Lewis put up 226 total yards as South Dakota Mines took back the Homestake Trophy. The Hardrockers improved to 64-60-1 in the oldest rivalry in DII football, dating back to 1895.
DII football stars of the day:
- Quarterback, Jayden Johannsen, South Dakota Mines - The QB completed 68 percent of his passes for 149 yards and a touchdown in his debut. The dual-threat quarterback also added 66 yards on the ground with another touchdown.
- Running back: Jesse Rodriquez, Colorado Mesa - Rodriquez answered the call when Isaac Maestas went down on the first play of the game. He rushed for 173 yards with a 61-yard touchdown and another 63-yard run mixed in.
- Running back: Ahmad Lewis, South Dakota Mines - Last season's leading rusher in the RMAC picked up where he left off, rushing for 166 yards while reeling in five catches for 60 more. He added two touchdowns on the day as well.
- Defense: Bryant Bowen, Colorado Mesa - The senior linebacker was a big reason Holst was held in check. Overall, he had 12 tackles, two of which were for a loss while recording 1.5 sacks.
DII football: What to watch in the week ahead (Saturday, Oct. 17)
Colorado Mesa at Black Hills State
The Mavericks defense was able to figure out Chadron State’s star quarterback Dalton Holst —who had averaged 373.7 yards in his first three career games against the Mavericks — holding him to just 208 yards and a touchdown. Maestas' injury will be one to keep tabs on, but Rodriquez could be lined up for another big day against a Black Hills State team that allowed 293 yards on the ground. Yellow Jacket's quarterback Chance Eben hopes to bounce back but could have some difficulty against that Mesa defense.
South Dakota Mines at Chadron State
The Mavericks defense was able to figure out Chadron State’s star quarterback Dalton Holst, who had averaged 373.7 yards in his first three career games against the Mavericks, holding him to just 208 yards and a touchdown. Now he has to try and bounce back against a Hardrockers team that kept Eben in check. South Dakota Mines' showed that it meshes well with Flohr's offense, making Johannsen and Lewis primed for another big week.
Angelo State at Stephen F. Austin
This game was originally scheduled for this past Saturday but was bumped to Oct. 17. Angelo State will be the second DII football team to try and take down FCS Stephen F. Austin this season. Lumberjacks' head coach Colby Carthel, who guided Texas A&M-Commerce to the 2017 DII football title, has SFA 1-0 against his former division after it defeated West Texas A&M 34-6 on Saturday, Sept. 26.
DII college basketball: A look at the contenders for 2020-21
Last week, we began our season preview, taking a look back at the DII men's and DII women's basketball team that finished 2020 atop the NCAA.com Power 10 rankings. Let's keep the ball rolling and turn our attention to the teams the finished the season at No. 2.
DII men's basketball: Lincoln Memorial
The Railsplitters were 32-1 when play came to a screeching halt. They lose three starters from that team, but the two Railsplitters set to return sure are solid. Cameron Henry had a remarkable season, taking home South Atlantic Conference defensive player of the year honors. Devin Whitfield should pace the offense after averaging 19.2 points per game on 53.1 percent shooting a year ago. This team may have a new-look starting rotation, but there is plenty of familiar faces returning to keep Lincoln Memorial competitive in a very tricky SAC.
DII women's basketball: Ashland
It will be a new era in Ashland basketball, but doesn't it feel like we say that a lot? Entering last season, head coach Robyn Fralick left after guiding the Eagles to one of the most successful runs in DII college basketball history, men's and women's combine. We thought her replacement, Kari Pickens, would need an adjustment period.
We thought wrong.
Ashland had a 31-0 record when play stopped. Now the Eagles will have to learn what life is like without long-time starters Jodi Johnson, Sara Loomis and Renee Stimpert. If we have learned anything from Ashland, it's that star returners Hallie Heidemann and Annie Roshak should be able to lead Ashland's incoming class to another competitive season.