CHADRON, Neb. — September 23, 2017 — As Elliott Field and Don Beebe Stadium were honored and celebrated during the Homecoming Day festivities, the Chadron State College football team did their part to pitch in and make it a special day for the alumni, families, and CSC supporters gathered for the occasion. The Eagles scored 51 first-half points and limited the nation’s No. 1 passing offense to 328 yards through the air, in a 73-26 rout of Adams State University on Saturday.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys’ effort today,” said CSC Head Football Coach Jay Long. “Our goal all week was to play four full quarters of football. At halftime we went in, and our main focus was to finish the game. Last year they came back on us, and we wanted to make sure and keep them out of it this time. It was a good day with all three phases of the game.”
It is not known as of Saturday evening whether the 51 halftime points was a school record, but the Eagles have not gone into intermission with a higher score since 2001, which is as far back as in-game stats are available.
Though Chadron State had seven touchdowns through the first two quarters, the team was not quite settled with its lead, as the Grizzlies used a safety, three touchdowns, and a field goal to stay within a four-score margin at the half. Last year, in Alamosa, Adams had 24 second-half points in a comeback win. The Eagles were determined not to allow that to happen again.
The CSC defense scored a shutout in quarters three and four. ASU managed only six first downs and 133 total yards after the half, after averaging more than 500 yards and 28 first downs per game over the first three contests of the season.
Special teams were also huge for the Eagles Saturday. Despite the safety given up early in the first quarter on a bad punt snap, Chadron State’s special teams got them the ball three times in opponent territory, creating short fields. The punt return teams also blocked two punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown by sophomore Stevann Brown, and Brown also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score. That feat was CSC’s first kickoff return score since 2011. Brown’s other two kickoff returns of 32 yards apiece also set up the Eagles’ offense nicely.
Chadron State’s success rushing the ball was another positive development. In the three previous games, CSC averaged a little more than 100 yards per game on the ground. On Saturday, its backs accounted for 276 yards in gains running the ball, of which 48 were nullified due to punt team errors.
The Eagles’ senior tailback Derek Jackson moved to ninth on the CSC career rushing yards list, at 2,334 yards, after his best game since 2015, his sophomore season. The star from Pueblo West, Colorado, averaged 7.6 yards per carry on 22 attempts, for 167 yards and scored three touchdowns. In his game two seasons ago against Adams, he ran for 176 on 24 carries.
Kevin Coy fared well rushing for the Eagles as well, scoring twice and hitting 76 net yards on the ground on 15 carries.
Starting quarterback Dalton Holst finished his day at the end of the third quarter going 13-for-23 with 223 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. Matt Vinson entered in relief in the fourth, and connected on eight straight passes for a total of 53 yards and a score. Vinson has now completed his last 11 attempts, going back to the end of the previous week’s game at Western State.
The receiving corps had another great game. Sophomore Jackson Dickerson led them all with 87 yards on four catches. Brandon Fullerton had the longest play of the day from scrimmage, catching a twice-tipped ball beautifully thrown from Holst for 47 yards, down to the Adams three-yard line, near the midpoint of the third quarter.
Yet another sophomore joined the growing numbers from his class who continue to show promise, as Rapid City’s Cole Thurness, who competed in fall camp as a defensive back, caught four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown, but also starred on special teams where he made three tackles on kickoff returns.
Four of CSC’s starting front seven recorded a total of five sacks combined, led by Tyler Kiess with two. On one of those, Kiess stripped quarterback Nick Rooney for a fumble, recovered by Adams, and a loss of four yards.
The Eagles’ defense held Adams State to 34 yards, which has not been done by a Chadron State squad against an opponent since 2011.
Chadron State prepares now to put on the mileage, as they face a three-game road swing, through Arcata, California, St. George, Utah, and Las Vegas, New Mexico.
The Eagles will next face No. 22 Humboldt State in Arcata on Saturday, September 30. The Lumberjacks are 3-0 and own a season-opening win over then-No. 8 Asuza Pacific.