The Chadron State College football team is hoping to get back on track Saturday when it visits New Mexico Highlands. Kickoff will be at noon.
This is the third of three consecutive long road trips for the Eagles, who didn’t fare well the past two Saturdays while playing in California and Utah.
Undefeated Humboldt State was dominant during its 56-13 victory and Dixie State broke a 24-24 tie by scoring twice off long drives in the fourth quarter for a 38-24 triumph.
Chadron State is now 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Head coach Jay Long said the back-to-back losses hurt.
“The only thing we know to do is work harder,” Long said. “We’ll probably simplify some things on offense and we need to be more consistent on both sides of the fall. Last week on defense we’d make some really good plays, then let Dixie State get a big play to keep their drives alive.”
Three of Dixie State’s touchdown drives were at least 69 yards long and another came on a 65-yard pass play immediately after the Eagles had tied the score at 17-17 late in the third quarter.
The Eagles also tied the game at 24-all early in the fourth quarter with an eight-play, 80-yard drive, but the Utah team put together 70- and 87-yard scoring drives for the win.
The jury is still out on how strong the Highlands Cowboys are this season. After going 0-11 last fall, they have a new coaching staff and an array of new players. But they have won two games and played Black Hills State tough two weeks ago before the Yellow Jackets won 50-40 in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
This past Saturday, South Dakota Mines scored the game’s final five touchdowns and defeated Highlands 52-14 in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Now coached by Marty Fine, formerly the head coach of NCAA Division I Bryant University in Rhode Island, the Cowboys opened the season with a 23-22 come-from-behind win over Dixie State. Colorado Mines defeated Highlands 70-0 the next week in Golden, Colorado, before the Cowboys ambushed Texas Wesleyan, a first-year NAIA football program that is winless through six games, 42-7.
Colorado State-Pueblo won 56-13 when it visited the Cowboys on Sept. 23.
Highlands has thrown for 1,369 yards and run for 906 while giving up 1,322 yards through the air and 1,666 on the ground.
None of the Cowboys have spectacular offensive stats. Two quarterbacks have been used with Danny Cameron, a transfer from Indiana University and son of former NFL head coach Cam Cameron, being the most productive. He has completed exactly half of his 174 passes for 987 yards and six touchdowns. The top running back is Dion Alston, a 5-9, 157-pound junior from New Jersey, who has carried 66 times for 372 yards.
Long said Alston appears to be among the fastest players in the conference.
Eagles’ offensive coordinator Chris Stein said the Cowboys’ defensive line and linebackers appear to be solid. He added that the secondary has had some personnel changes from game to game, but freshmen cornerbacks Terrence Jackson and Willie Morris have combined for three interceptions and have broken up 20 passes.
Chadron State romped past the Cowboys 73-0 at home last fall, scoring 10 touchdowns, making all 10 extra points and also kicking a field goal. The Eagles rushed for 473 yards, their third highest in school history.
But that was last year, and only 19 players who were on last year’s Highlands’ roster are on this year’s.