By Con Marshall BOX SCORE
The Chadron State Eagles scored four touchdowns in each half while claiming their first victory of the season, a 56-3 verdict over Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., on Saturday afternoon in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action.
The Eagles dominated every phase of the game, piling up 592 total net yards, including 367 rushing, while holding the Skyhawks to just 116 total yards, after their minus 11 yards rushing is deducted. Chadron State finished with 32 first downs and Fort Lewis just seven.
CSC Head Coach Jay Long said it felt good to win, and commended his team for playing well in each phase of the game. He added that this past week he and his staff simplified the offense, and the players executed it well. He also said the Eagles’ defense turned in an outstanding team effort, giving up no running plays longer than six yards and only two passes longer than 10 yards.
Fort Lewis scored first after the Eagles made one of their few mistakes. It was a fumbled punt return that gave the Skyhawks possession at their own 40-yard line. But after picking up two first downs, Fort Lewis had to settle for a 44-yard field goal by Hunter Villavicencio midway in the opening quarter.
The Eagles scored their first touchdown just 80 seconds later when former Mitchell standout Rylan Aguallo ran the final 11 yards after another young running back, Dorian Collier, had dashed 34 yards and the Skyhawks were flagged for pass interference.
Chadron State scored three touchdowns in the second period, the first two on runs of three and five yards by massive Jalan Starks and the other a 22-yard pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Preston Pearson to true freshman Tommy Thomas.
The first of the three TDs was set up by 16-yard passes from Pearson to Collier and Jamal Browder. A fumble recovery by linebacker Heamasi Latu, followed by a 13-yard keeper by Pearson set the stage for the second score. Runs of 11 yards by Aguallo and eight by Jeydon Cox and an 11-yard pass to tight end Peter Krohn preceded the third of the second quarter TDs.
Already ahead 28-3, the Eagles opened the second half with their biggest play. Browder carried a jet sweep 70 yards to the end zone with no one coming close to catching him after he turned the corner.
Chadron State went ahead 42-3 with 1:15 left in the third, when senior receiver Ali Musi made a one-handed catch over his outside shoulder for a 22-yard gain and Starks went the final three yards to the goal line for his third TD of the day. Long called Musi’s reception among the best he has ever seen.
Early In the fourth quarter, Pearson threw his second touchdown pass, an eight-yard strike to Ahlonte Hair in the end zone to cap an 80-yard drive on the ninth play. A 22-yard run by Aguallo and a 19-yard pass to Krohn were the big gainers.
The Eagles posted their final touchdown on a two-yard pass from alternate quarterback Trevor Wehman to tight end Ro Ambercrobie after Cox ignited the drive with a 19-yard ramble and end Jackson Hesford carried for 12 yards.
Gunnar Jones made all eight of his extra point attempts and averaged 46 yards on three punts.
A southpaw from Kearney, Pearson completed 18 of 24 passes for 218 yards. Nine Eagles caught passes, led by Krohn with six receptions for 56 yards.
Cox had 16 carries for 103 yards to pace the Eagles’ ground game. Aguallo rushed nine times for 65 yards, Starks 11 times for 58 and Collier three for 50, to go with Browder’s 70-yard sprint to open the second half.
Fort Lewis quarterback Braden Wingle completed 17 of 32 passes for 127 yards. His team is now 0-5 and has been outscored 252-35.
The Eagles will be at home this coming Saturday to host Adams State for a noon kickoff.