After a summer of anticipation as renovations to Don Beebe Stadium and Elliott Field were made, fans and players had to wait a bit longer than expected Saturday evening as heavy rains delayed the Eagles’ opener by two hours. The long wait, however, didn’t stop the team from coming out strong and cruising to a 45-8 victory over rival Black Hills State.
“With all the rain and the lightning delays we just sat in the locker room and simmered and simmered and simmered,” Eagles’ Head Coach Jay Long said after the win. “When the guys got to come out on the football field it’s like they exploded.”
3,500 fans who endured the rain and delays weren’t let down as the Eagles’ defense immediately went to work setting up their offense with great field position when Eagles’ senior defender Zecharie James, of Hampton, Virginia, broke into the backfield and got a hand on the Yellow Jackets punt from their own 24-yard line at the close of the team’s opening possession.
The ball traveled only 16 yards as a result, leaving the Eagles’ offense poised to strike from the Black Hills 40-yard line.
The Eagles’ special teams played a big role in the win as senior Keenan Johnson, of Chadron, added another punt block on the Yellow Jackets’ third possession which set up Chadron’s second scoring drive at the Black Hills 22-yard line.
“At the beginning of the year special teams is always big,” Long said of their contribution.
Later in the second quarter when the Jackets put together their only scoring drive, Eagles’ sophomore Jake Norris, of Fort Morgan, Colorado, blocked the extra point attempt.
“That was probably (Norris’) 20th play ever on the field, so I was pretty proud of him,” Long said.
Senior Zack Kozlik, of Coronado, California, named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Special Teams player of the year, had three punts in the game, twice pinning the Yellow Jackets at their own 4-yard line.
The Eagles’ offense, expected to have a strong season after returning nine of 11 starters, got to work early when senior Kevin Coy, of Davenport, Florida, broke through the defense and into the end zone from 26 yards out on just the third play of the team’s first possession.
Coy, who rushed for 115 yards in the game, had surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark by the end of the first half, scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter, and adding another in the second.
“I felt great,” Coy said after the game, “but I’ve got to give it up to my O-line, first and foremost. They played great.”
Much is expected of the team’s veteran offensive line this season, and the group certainly impressed in its debut.
“When we talked about keys to the game we wanted to dominate the line of scrimmage and I thought our offensive and defensive lines did that,” Coach Long said.
The effort from the O-line allowed Chadron, which rushed a total of 48 times for 284 yards, establish their running game early.
While Coy led the Eagles’ running corps in yardage on 15 carries, junior Stevann Brown, of Casper, Wyoming, wasn’t far behind with 85 yards on 13 carries.
Turning the duo of returning backs Coy and Brown into a triple threat from the backfield, true freshman Elijah Myles, of Hawthorne, California, was given 12 carries during his first game in Eagles’ uniform, and averaged 6.5 yards-per-carry for a total of 66.
Sophomore quarterback Dalton Holst completed 13 of 19 attempts throwing for a total of 150 yards, including a 28 yard touchdown pass to Brown in the second quarter.
Senior T.D. Stein, of Chadron, was used strategically throughout the game in the quarterback position completing two of four passes. The two completions were touchdowns thrown to sophomore Cole Thurness, of Rapid City, South Dakota, and redshirt freshman Karson Avila, of Denver, Colorado.
Eagles’ junior Tevon Wright, of Miami, led all Chadron receivers with 80 yards on four catches.
CSC junior Tyler ‘Gator’ Lewis, of Arvada, Colorado, led the defense with nine tackles while both junior Tyree Fryar, of Burlington, New Jersey, and true freshman Malik Goss, of Upland California, were credited with eight.
“Malik Goss had a terrific day,” Coach Long said. “He was one of those kids we’ve talked about who can really run and puts himself in good positions.”
Junior Calder Forcella, of Greybull, Wyoming, also made his presence known in the game sacking Black Hills senior quarterback Ryan Hommel twice.
The Eagles will continue their season with a big test this Saturday as they travel to Pueblo, Colorado to face the CSU-Pueblo Thunderwolves who were the 2017 RMAC Co-Champions and ranked first overall in the 2018 RMAC preseason coach’s poll.
The Thunderwolves are coming off a 56-14 thrashing of number four ranked Dixie State this past Saturday in Pueblo.
The Eagle’s Devin Fulton contributed to this story.
Black Hills St. 0 6 2 0 – 8
Chadron St. 14 21 10 0 – 45
FIRST DOWNS………………. 20 26
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)………… 31-143 48-284
PASSING YDS (NET)…………. 206 177
Passes Att-Comp-Int……….. 41-25-0 24-15-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS….. 72-349 72-461
Fumble Returns-Yards………. 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards………… 0-0 1-16
Kickoff Returns-Yards……… 7-94 1-15
Interception Returns-Yards…. 0-0 0-0
Punts (Number-Avg)………… 7-29.1 3-49.0
Fumbles-Lost……………… 1-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards…………… 7-65 12-111
Possession Time…………… 29:29 29:36
Third-Down Conversions…….. 6 of 18 4 of 11
Fourth-Down Conversions……. 0 of 2 1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances……. 0-2 4-4
Sacks By: Number-Yards…….. 2-4 2-10
RUSHING: Black Hills St.-Payten Gilmore 15-59; Ryan Hommel 7-45; Shane
Brooks 2-21; Keyshawn Farmer 2-14; Collin Powers 4-6; Isaac Jefferson 1-minus 2.
Chadron St.-Kevin Coy, Jr 15-115; Stevann Brown 13-84; Elijah Myles 12-64; TD
Stein 3-12; J. Dickerson 1-8; Cole Thurness 1-3; Dalton Holst 3-minus 2.
PASSING: Black Hills St.-Ryan Hommel 24-39-0-198; Collin Powers 1-2-0-8.
Chadron St.-Dalton Holst 13-19-0-150; TD Stein 2-4-0-27; Tyler Hyland 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING: Black Hills St.-Keiler Harpham 7-41; Markez Boykin 5-53;
Jordan Pace 4-34; Eriq Swiftwater 3-43; Payten Gilmore 2-14; Dylan Reiners 2-13;
Isaac Jefferson 1-6; Shane Brooks 1-2. Chadron St.-Tevon Wright 4-80; J.
Dickerson 3-13; Cole Thurness 2-26; Baylor Hayes 2-10; Stevann Brown 1-28;
Karson Avila 1-9; Chad Mikelson 1-8; Kevin Coy, Jr 1-3.
SACKS (UA-A): Black Hills St.-Cole Miller 1-0; Luis Bach 1-0. ChadronSt.-Calder Forcella 2-0. TACKLES (UA-A): Black Hills St.-Josh Gurnaby 11-2; Austin Goddard 6-3;Lathen Stevens 7-0; Cole Miller 6-1; Jack Mazurie 2-3; Jarrell Ganaway 2-1; LuisBach 1-2; Marquise Clayto 0-3; Conor Heaney 2-0; Dimitri Butts 2-0; Brett Lamb2-0; Kolten Johnson 0-2; Drew Hebel 1-0; Bailey Rosenstrauch 1-0; Chris James1-0; Brice Harkless 1-0; Tanner Gamble 1-0; Taran Whelchel 0-1. ChadronSt.-Tyler Lewis 4-5; Tyree Fryar 7-1; Malik Goss 6-2; Zecharie James 6-0; CalderForcella 4-2; Keenan Johnson 3-3; Travis Wilson 2-3; D. Barthwell 4-0; D.McFadden 3-0; M. Crabtree 2-0; Brian Sanchez 1-1; Cole Thurness 1-1; Kyle Temple0-2; Louis Smith 1-0; Ali Musa 1-0; Tayven Bray 1-0; Matthew Mazas 0-1; J.Dickerson 0-1; Chad Mikelson 0-1; Brendan Hopkins 0-1.