Eagles ready for showdown at AT&T

CHADRON – The game many Chadron State football fans have been looking forward to will take place Thursday night in perhaps the world's fanciest athletics facility, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The stadium, known as Cowboys Stadium until two months ago, cost $1.15 billion to build, has a retractable roof, the world's largest column-free interior and the fourth largest high definition video screen, which hangs from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

Regardless of where this game was played, it would be a big one because it is a rematch with fourth-ranked West Texas A&M, the team that knocked the Eagles, ranked 18th in the latest AFCA Top 25 poll, out of the playoffs a year ago. Although both were excellent then, both have reason to believe they may be even better this year.

Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. (MDT) and will be televised nationally on the CBS Sports Network. The Eagles figure to have lots of support. The cheerleaders, pep band and numerous fans are making the trip.

West Texas A&M trailed early, but finally toppled the Eagles 38-30 at Elliott Field in Chadron last Nov. 17 in the first round of the playoffs. The Buffaloes went on to beat Ashland University of Ohio 33-28 and Colorado State-Pueblo 34-13 the next two weeks before falling to Winston-Salem of North Carolina 41-18 in the D II semifinals.

"They're a good football team and we're a good football team," Chadron State head coach Jay Long said Monday at the Eagles Booster Club luncheon. "We're excited to be playing them again in that atmosphere."

Long added he's been warned by football savvy individuals to make sure the Eagles spend considerable time getting acquainted with the stadium and its many amenities before the game kicks off. Otherwise, he's been told they may be so awe-struck that it will be difficult for them to focus on the game.

The coach is hoping the Eagles go into the game with a chip on their shoulder following last year's game.

Aided by two interceptions, Chadron State jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes, but was blanked in the second quarter and trailed 17-14 at halftime.

The Eagles' Alex Ferdinand kicked a pair of field goals in the third period to put CSC on top 20-17, but West Texas drove 84 yards for a touchdown near the end of the quarter and led 24-20 heading into the fourth stanza. Ferdinand's third field goal pulled CSC within a point just a minute and a half later, but West Texas drove 76 and 71 yards for touchdowns and took a 38-23 lead with 3:22 to play.

The Eagles then completed seven of eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in less than two minutes to get within striking range. They also recovered an onside kick and picked up one first down, but were inches shy of moving the yard marker again as time was running out.

West Texas outyarded the Eagles 580 to 455, but a bigger stat was probably the Buffs' nine of 14 third down conversions compared to CSC's two of 11.

Both teams return numerous starters and many of their key players from last year's teams. Chadron State has nine starters back on offense and four who got the starting nod on defense, while West Texas has six back on both sides of the ball.

Among the returnees are both quarterbacks. CSC's Jonn McLain completed 32 of 49 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns in last year's game while West Texas' Dustin Vaughan hit on 19 of 31 for 269 yards and two TDs.

Long said the Buffs also have some studs on defense. Among them is end Ethan Westbrooks, who is 6-4, 220 pounds, was selected the DII National Defensive Player of the Year last fall and is regarded as one of the division's top pro prospects this fall.

Long said outside linebacker Taylor McCuller and safety Curtis Slater also are special players.

Chadron State Offense
Wide receivers-Travis Reeves, 5-11, 200, Sr., and Nathan Ross, 5-11, 185, Sr.
Inside receivers-Chapman Ham, 6-2, 235, Sr., and Cody Roes, 6-2, 220, Sr.
Tackles-Jake McCrary, 6-4, 260, Sr., Daniel Sotelo, 6-3, 308, So.
Guards-Mike Lorenzo, 6-2, 280, Jr., and Tony Hartman, 6-3, 300, Sr.
Center-Sam Parker, 6-1, 280, Jr.
Quarterback-Jon McLain, 5-11, 185, Jr.
Tailback-Glen Clinton, 5-10, 200, Sr.
Placekicker-Alex Ferdinand, 5-10, 185, Jr. or Randy Wentz, 5-11, 155, Fr.
Chadron State Defense
Ends-Dillon Breinig, 6-2, 255, Jr., and Kyle McCarthy, 6-2, 240, So.
Nose tackle-Zach Sandstrom, 6-1, 265, Jr.
Outside linebackers-Dylan Furrier, 6-1, 225, So., and Bryant Miller, 6-0, 205, Sr.
Middle linebacker-Shea Koch, 6-1, 220, Sr.
Cornerbacks-Conor Casey, 6-2, 220, Jr., and Lane Haller, 6-3, 205, Jr.
Safetys- Pierre Etchemendy, 6-1 200, Sr.; Clint Sasse, 5-11, 210, Sr.; and Tyler Wright, 5-10, 195, Sr.
Punter-Zach Smith, 6-0, 200, R-Fr.
West Texas A&M Offense
Wide receivers-Torrence Allen, 6-1, 190, Jr., and Word Hudson, 6-0, 174, So.
Inside receivers-Nathan Slaughter, 5-10, 185, Sr., and Jace Jackson, 6-2 200, Sr.
Tackles-Terrance Harris, 6-4, 285, Sr., and Amory Atterberry, 6-5, 285, Jr.
Guards-Arthur Fatu, 6-2, 330, Jr., and Craig Watts, 6-4, 285, Sr.
Center-Austin Carson, 6-2, 270, R-Fr.
Quarterback-Dustin Vaughan, 6-5, 220, Sr.
Running back-Geremy Alridge, 5-10, 195, So.
Placekicker-Sergio Castillo, 5-11. 195, Jr.
West Texas A&M Defense
Ends-Shane Pennix, 6-4, 245, Sr., and Ethan Westbrooks, 6-4, 275, Sr.
Nose tackle-Alex Tucci, 6-2, 300, So.
Outside linebackers-Chris Olson, 6-4, 220, Sr., and Bryan Johnson, 6-4, 220, Sr.
Inside linebackers-Nick Whitt, 6-0, 255, Sr., and Taylor McCuller, 6-2, 240, Sr.
Cornerbacks-Dwight Morrison, 5-8, 160, Sr., and Torian Oakley, 5-10, 180, Jr.
Safetys-John McSheffery, 5-10, 185, Sr., and Curtis Slater, 5-9, 195, Sr.
Punter-Kevin VanVoris, 6-0, 235, Sr.

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