BUTTE — It just might take a swamp to stall the College of Idaho rushing offense at this point.
A week after rolling up 377 rushing yards on Eastern Oregon, the Yotes had everything on the ground going their way as they rushed for 327 yards on the way to holding off Montana Tech 28-14 in the Orediggers’ annual Copper Game.
That is 704 yards rushing in two games, if you’re counting at home.
Junior running back Nick Calzaretta was — and has been — the catalyst for the Yotes and piled up 240 yards and a touchdown on his 25 carries against the Orediggers. That lone score came early in the fourth quarter on a 58-yard carry that effectively sealed the game for C of I.
“I’m on record saying we need to run the ball,” Yotes head coach Mike Moroski said. “We feel like we do some good stuff and put some pressure on the D, and we feel like that might open up big plays for us.”
On Saturday afternoon, it certainly did.
The game’s first touchdown, a two-yard run from C of I’s Justin Hellyer, was setup by a 61-yard rush by Calzaretta. The star back also helped the Yotes push out from their own one-yard line early in the third quarter with back-to-back rushes.
C of I quarterback Darius-James Peterson then hit wide receiver Hunter Juarez for an 88-yard score and put the Yotes up 14-0 with 9:03 left in the third quarter.
“I think it was a definitely a momentum change,” Peterson said. “We knew coming out that we had to score and capitalize on their mistakes and that’s what we had to do.”
Up until that point, the Oredigger defense had been able to avoid breaking for the big play. But with its offense stalled, it seemed only a matter of time before the Yotes ripped off a huge gain.
Gassed, the Tech defense came back on the field immediately due to its offense going three-and-out in its next possession.
The Yotes then put together their longest drive of the day, a 14-play, seven minute and 18 second long monstrosity that covered 70 yards. Peterson, who had 212 yards of total offense, then found backup running back Canyon Olsen for a score on the first play of the fourth quarter to put C of I up by 21 points.
“I thought we played, defensively, a really solid first half and then in the second, going out on that first drive we got them backed up and starting on the one-yard line, that’s a pretty advantageous setup for us and we give up a huge pass play and that really broke our rhythm,” Montana Tech head coach Chuck Morrell said. “Towards the end of the game we’re trying to be aggressive, blitzing into their run game trying to make a stop and they made some plays.”
After the Tech offense stalled again in the ensuing drive, some of that aggressiveness paid off as senior Oredigger linebacker Jacob Clarke scooped up a Calzaretta fumble and returned it before being tackled by Peterson.
Clarke had seven tackles for the Orediggers, including one for loss.
“One of the things we work on is scooping and scoring, especially if it’s in space,” Clarke said. “Saw the ball was out and I had a lot of room so I was lucky enough to take what I could with it. We needed a turnover at that point the game.”
Tech was able to finally convert a drive into points and quarterback Jet Campbell found Trevor Hoffman for a 21-yard score on fourth and 17. Hoffman finished with 11 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. No other receiver had more than three catches.
Campbell was 17 of 28 for 217 yards and did not look entirely comfortable in the pocket throughout the afternoon.
“Starting out this game they came out and set the tone by being really physical,” Morrell said. “And obviously from our standpoint we’ve got to do a better job taking care of Jet in the pocket and there’s a lot of things we’re going to have to work on.”
Montana Tech falls to 0-1 on the season with a trip to Eastern Oregon on deck for next Saturday. The Yotes, now 2-0, will host Southern Oregon for their homecoming game.
“We got a lot of confidence going right now,” Moroski said. “So some good things are happening.”