LSC Playoff Week 3 Recap

December 5th, 2023 6:00pm

LSC Playoff Week 3 Recap

Playoff Week 3 Recap

The road has finally ended. 

After nearly 4000 miles traveled, Central Washington’s improbable run to the Super Region 4 Final was as far as the Wildcats would go this season.  Top-ranked Colorado Mines used a relentless offense and defense to wear down and pull away from CWU, winning 38-14 after being tied 14-14 at halftime.  The game was a near-carbon copy of CWU’s most recent loss to Texas-Permian Basin, where the Falcons similarly dominated the second half after also being tied 14-14 at halftime. 


Now, about last week:

Colorado Mines wins the Super Region 4 Final over Central Washington 38-14

It was far from perfect, but at halftime there was reason to believe Central Washington could pull off a momentous upset over Colorado Mines.  Despite being outgained and giving up two long touchdown drives, the Wildcats stayed with the Orediggers the whole way, first converting a blocked punt by Johnny Navarro for their first touchdown, and scoring on a 12-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 14 on their final possession of the half.  CWU turned Mines over twice on Mines’ first three drives and then made that all-important punt block that seemed to get things going their way.  And CWU was getting the second-half kickoff. 

Unfortunately, that was as good as things would get. 

When CWU took the second-half kickoff, the Wildcats would go backwards and three-and-out.  Mines would then score the next three times they had the ball, with a field goal sandwiched between two touchdowns.  By the time the Oredigger onslaught was over, it was 31-14 in their favor and the game was essentially over.  The CWU defense, which gave everything they had against some of the region’s best teams, had nothing left.  The CWU offense, which grounded and pounded their way to 9 wins, was stuck in neutral due to the Mines defense, and they didn’t gain more than 30 yards on any of their seven second-half possessions. 

Throughout CWU’s playoff run, two things were constant and necessary for their wins: Solid defense and a strong running game.  In this game, the defense was solid in the first half, but the running game just wasn’t there at any point in this one.  The Wildcats gained only 7 rushing yards, with Kennedy McGill the leading rusher with just 12 yards.  Tyler Flanagan returned after missing most of the past two weeks and finished the game with negative-3 yards on 5 carries.  McGill did throw for 207 yards, but that just further solidifies the fact that the Mines defense successfully took CWU out of their offensive strategy.  Without the rushing and time of possession advantages that CWU needs, Mines and their multi-weapon offense wore down and eventually overwhelmed the CWU defense, scoring 24 second-half points to zero for CWU.  Mines, like UTPB in Week 11, put up big numbers on the ground, rushing for 255 yards.  John Matocha, like UTPB’s Kenny Hrncir in Week 11, was equally dangerous on the ground and in the air, running for 83 yards along with throwing for 225 yards.  Mines outgained CWU by 480 to 214 yards and held the ball for 34:23 of the game.  Mines was just simply at a different level than CWU, and that certainly came through in the second half. 

Colorado Mines improves to 13-0 and Central Washington’s season ends at 9-4. 


The End of the 2023 LSC Season

With CWU’s loss in the Super Region 4 Final, the LSC season is now over.  An LSC team has now made the Super Region 4 Final for the third straight season, but Colorado Mines stood in the way each time.  CWU, after a 0-2 start that included a loss to an NAIA team, made an unexpected run to the Super Region 4 Final when it was thought by many that first-time LSC champion UTPB would be the team that would be in that position.  The LSC placed two teams in the playoff field, and Angelo State was a close miss with three losses by a grand total of 18 points to playoff teams in Mines, CWU, and UTPB.  Texas A&M-Kingsville won 7 games for the second straight season and were just a few plays away from being an 8- or 9-win team.  The rest of the conference found themselves in various stages of rebuilding, with three of the conference’s four new head coaches having losing records in their first season with their new teams. 

A full end-of-season recap will be posted sometime between now and the end of the year.