The Eagles came back from a fourth quarter deficit for the third time this season, pulling of an exciting 43-38 victory over the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys, at Elliot Field, Saturday.
The win improves the Eagles to 6-2 this season and earns the team its first undefeated home record since 2006.
Up 37-31 with NMHU threatening to score the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, Demetrius McFadden, Junior of Pahokee, Florida, forced a fumble from Cowboys’ receiver D.J. McFadden, senior of Philadelphia, which Chadron safety Malik Goss, freshman of Upland, California, recovered for a 62-yard touchdown.
Though Chadron’s attempt at a two-point conversion failed, the defensive score improved the Eagles lead to 43-31, giving the team a crucial two-score lead.
“It felt good to score my second (defensive) touchdown, but there is no way I could have done it without my teammates,” Goss said regarding the fumble return. “They forced the fumble and set me up to be successful by leading me down the field untouched by anyone.”
Despite the turnover, the Cowboys continued to pressure late in the game, cutting their deficit to 43-38 when Highlands quarterback Danny Cameron, senior of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, rifled a 9-yard pass to Dillon Gassoway, freshman of Albuquerque.
Following the touchdown, Highlands forced an Eagles’ three-and-out on the next drive, but began their final possession at their own 1-yard line after Chadron special-teams weapon Zach Kozlik artfully placed a 43-yard non-returnable punt as deep into New Mexico territory as was possible.
Chadron was able to stall New Mexico at its own 15-yard line and get the ball back with 2:52 remaining.
A pair of third-down conversions, the first a 9-yard run by Chadron’s Kevin Coy Jr., the second a 10-yard pass from Dalton Holst to Cole Thurness, allowed the Eagles to then run out the game clock and seal the victory.
Leading 14-0 after the first quarter, Chadron allowed the Cowboys 21 unanswered points during the second quarter. Following a 26-yard field goal to end the first-half, the Eagles trailed Highlands 21-17.
Despite ceding momentum to Highlands, it took Chadron just 12 seconds to regain the lead when, on the first play from scrimmage, Holst launched a 42-yard pass to receiver Cole Thurness, sophomore of Rapid City, South Dakota, to go up 24-21.
From there the lead would change in New Mexico’s favor following a Cowboys’ field goal and touchdown pass, but Chadron’s 16-yard rushing touchdown to begin the fourth quarter gave the Eagles’ the lead for good thanks to Goss and Chadron’s late-game heroics.
The Eagles’ attack was balanced with Holst completing 17 of 29 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns.
Chadron receiver Wright caught 5 passes for 97 yards; teammate Cole Thurness c aught six for 94 yards. Each had a single touchdown and contributed big receptions during the game.
On the ground, CSC rushed for 255 yards as Elijah Myles, freshman of Hawthorne, California, ran for a season-high 99 yards with one touchdown to complement Coy’s 148-yard, one-touchdown, game.
According to CSC’s Sports Information Department Coy’s performance put the senior running back over the 2,000 career rushing yards mark, with 2,120. Coy is now 121 yards from Hall-of Fame runner Mike Fackrell who sits at 10th all-time among CSC athletes.
Throughout the high-scoring affair the Eagles’ defense caused three turnovers with fumble recoveries by Goss and Merritt Crabtree, senior of Newcastle, WY, and an interception by linebacker Tyler Lewis, junior of Arvada, Colorado.
Chadron was led in tackles by redshirt freshman Brendan Brehmer, of Alliance, and senior Keenan Johnson, of Chadron, who each had 11. Eagles’ defense mainstay Tyler Lewis, junior of Arvada, Colorado had eight.
Chadron was once again outgained by their opponent in a winning-effort as the Cowboys combined for 553 yards to the Eagles’ 517.
Highlands quarterback Cameron completed 26 of 39 passes for 391 yards, and threw five touchdowns. The senior quarterback’s most-found target was teammate McFaddon who caught 10 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Cowboys receiver Zach Drew-Toles, senior of Las Vegas, Nevada, also broke 100-yards receiving on 5 catches for 113 yards.
Dione Alston, senior of Salem, New Jersey, led all Highlands runners with 137 yards on 22 carries.
The Eagles’ T.D Stein, senior of Chadron, took just 10 snaps as the team’s starting quarterback Saturday before leaving the game with an apparent knee injury. Stein is not expected to play in Chadron’s upcoming game with South Dakota Mines.
Against Highlands, the Eagles were without both DeAndre Barthwell, junior of Westland, Michigan, and Jackson Dickerson, junior of Chadron, due to injury. Dickerson is expected to play Saturday.
Early in the fourth quarter Highlands wide receiver Louis Webb, junior of DeSoto, Texas, went to the ground awkwardly, resulting in a 20-minute delay as the Webb had to be stretchered from the field and taken to nearby Chadron Hospital.
When contacted by The Eagle Monday, New Mexico Highlands University’s Sports Information Department did not have information regarding the severity of Webb’s injury.
This Saturday, CSC travels to Rapid City, S.D., to face the Hardrockers who currently have a 4-5 record.