By Con Marshall Chadron Record BOX SCORE
Chadron State scored the first nine points during the Eagles’ homecoming football game Saturday afternoon, but did not score again, as nationally-ranked Colorado Mines Orediggers rolled to a 45-9 victory in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest.
The Orediggers were scoreless in the first quarter, when they were forced to punt, had a pass intercepted and missed a field goal.
They also had to punt again early in the second period, but scored three touchdowns and added a field goal on their next four second period possessions to build a 24-9 halftime lead.
Now 3-2 for the season and 3-0 in the conference, Mines also scored the first two times it had the ball in the third quarter, added another TD in the fourth. The Orediggers finished with 476 total net yards, almost exactly twice the Eagles’ figure.
As is his habit, senior quarterback John Matocha was masterful while directing the Mines offense. Yes, the Eagles’ defense sacked him twice and his first interception of the season after throwing more than 130 passes this fall led to Chadron State’s field goal that opened the scoring.
But, for the game the senior from Texas completed 24 of 32 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns while getting plenty of help from a stout offensive line and receivers with a knack of getting open
Matocha had completed six of his first seven passes before his eighth toss was tipped and then grabbed by Chadron State linebacker Xavier Harrell at the Orediggers’ 38.
With Chadron State’s No. 3 quarterback Preston Pearson, a redshirt freshman, at the controls because both of the signal callers ahead of him on the depth chart—Heath Beemiller and Mason Hamilton—are injured, the Eagles soon made two of their biggest plays of the game.
That’s where the drive died and Chadron State had to settle for Gunnar Jones’ 20-yard field goal with 5:48 left in the opening quarter.
Mines missed a 43-yard field goal as time was running out in the first frame. On the second play after taking possession, Pearson, a southpaw from Kearney, hit wide receiver Ahlonte Hair with a 38-yard pass that carried to the visitors’ 34.
Chadron State tailback Dorian Collier ripped off a 17-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, then caught Pearson’s pass along the north sideline and fought his way into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown. Although the extra point attempt was blocked, the Eagles led 9-0.
The Eagles forced another punt on Mines’ next possession, but after being called for holding, Chadron State also had to punt. The Orediggers’ Mason Pierce returned the ball 43 yards to the CSC 28. Three plays later, Matocha hit wide receiver Max McLeod with a touchdown strike in the back of the end zone for their team’s first touchdown.
On the Eagles’ ensuing possession, their punt was blocked at their own 35. After a first down on three running plays and Matocha’s 15-yard pass to his favorite receiver, Josh Johnston, the Mines quarterback hit tight end Kenny Wright with a five-yard TD pass.
Mines scored again in short order after Pearson’s pass was intercepted by Matt Minnehan and returned 19 yards to the Chadron State eight. With lineman Blayke De La Rosa leading the way, the Eagles showed some feistiness by sacking Matocha for a nine-yard loss, but passes of 12 yards to Mason Karp and five to alternate running back Landon Walker in the corner of the end zone put Mines ahead 21-9.
It appeared the 0-5 Eagles might retaliate late in the first half. Pearson’s passes to Thomas and tight end Peter Krohn along with a roughing the passer penalty on the toss to Krohn, gave Chadron State a first down at the Mines 33. However, the Eagles’ next pass was intercepted by safety Jaden Williams, who returned the pick 37 yards.
CSC also was assessed 15 yards for sideline interference on the return, and Matocha connected with McLeod on a 23-yard pass that carried to the CSC 10. With just three seconds left on the clock, Mines settled for a 26-yard field goal by Matt Eich that made the halftime score 24-9.
The difference continued to grow in the third quarter, when Matocha hooked up with Johnston, on an 84-yard pass play for a touchdown. Soon afterwards, the same pair connected on a 41-yard gain that was cashed in by Walker’s 12-yard rumble.
The game’s final touchdown came with 10:30 to play when Chris Yoo ran the final 10 yards to wrap up an 11-play, 80-yard drive that saw Matocha complete five consecutive passes for 61 yards.
Johnston caught five passes for 156 yards while McLeod had six for 79. The Orediggers’ all-star tailback, Michael Zeman, carried six times for 28 yards in the first quarter and did not play again. Walker was the primary replacement and became the game’s leading rusher with 11 carries for 45 yards.
Pearson will undoubtedly long remember his first college start that was played before a large crowd and against one of the top teams in Division II with more than 30 seniors on the roster. He was sacked seven times and picked off twice but completed 17 of 27 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown.
Chadron State Coach Jay Long said Pearson is among the players on his young team who are learning and will get better each week.
“We’ve got eliminate turnovers and not make so many mistakes,” the coach said. “We’ve played a tough schedule and I’m sure we’ll have more success the second half of the season.”
First Downs 21 11
Total Net Yards 476 233
Rushes, Yards 35-116 32-50
Passing Yard 360 183
Passing 28-36-1 17-27-2
Return Yards 137 24
Punts, Average 4-39.5 9-37.8
Fumbles, Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties, Yards 7-70 7-53
Colorado Mines 0 24 14 7 —45
Chadron State 3 6 0 0 —-9
CSC—Gunnar Jones 20 field goal
CSC—Dorian Collier 12 pass from Preston Pearson (kick failed)
CSM—Max McLeod 29 pass from John Matocha (Matt Eich kick)
CSM—Kenny Wright 5 pass from Matocha (Eich kick)
CSM—Landon Walker 5 pass from Matocha (Eich kick)
CSM—Eich 26 field goal
CSM—Josh Johnston 84 pass from Matocha (Eich kick)
CSM—Walker 12 run (Eich kick)
CSM—Chris Yoo 10 run (Eich kick)
Rushing: CSM—Landon Walker 11-45, Michael Zeman 6-28, John Matocha 9-14, Chris Yoo 6-21, Evan Foster 2-3, Jack Lowry 1-minus 6. CSC—Dorian Collier 8-28, Ali Musa 2-15, Jalen Sarks 7-13, Tommy Thomas 1-12. Rylan Aguallo 1-3, Preston Pearson 13-minus 20.
Passing: CSM—John Matocha 24-32-1, 306 yards, 4 TDs; Evan Foster 4-4-0, 41 yards. CSC—Preston Pearson 17-27-2, 183 yards, 1 TD.
Receiving: CSM—Josh Johnston 5-156, Max McLeod 6-79, Mason Karp 6-31, Sean Roberts 3-32, Zach Hoffman 2-23, Landon Walker 2-14, Kenny Wright 2-13, Robert Valenzuela 1-8, Josh Krause 1-4. CSC—Peter Krohn 5-29, Tommy Thomas 3-26, Ahlonte Hair 2-44, Grant Swenson 2-40, Ali Musa 1-21, Dorian Collier 2-17, Ro Abercrombie 1-3, Jalen Starks 1-3.