Eagles Hosting Pueblo In Homecoming Game

Quest Savery/CSC Sports Information

After playing extra well in all three phases of the game while defeating New Mexico Highlands 46-16 on the road last Saturday, the Chadron State football team will strive to duplicate that effort this Saturday while hosting Colorado State-Pueblo during Homecoming. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.

The Eagles are 2-3 for the season and 2-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Pueblo is 3-2 overall after losing its first two games to non-conference foes Texas A&M-Commerce (12-6) and Grand Valley State of Michigan (34-14) and winning three straight RMAC game by various margins.

The ThunderWolves initially squeezed past Black Hills State 19-16, overwhelmed South Dakota Mines 49-7 and edged Colorado Mesa 19-13 last Saturday in double overtime.

Chadron State has defeated South Dakota Mines 31-20 and lost to Mesa 24-17 this fall.

Pueblo has been a perennial power since shortly after reviving its football program in 2008 with current head coach John Wristen always in charge. The Eagles blanked the Wolves that year 32-0, but Pueblo has won the ensuing 11 games. Two of them went into overtime.

Wristen began this season with a 117-27 career record. Seven of his teams have been RMAC champions and advanced to the playoffs, according to the CSU-Pueblo website. The Wolves were 11-2 in 2019, the last time they played football before this season.

Chadron State Coach Jay Long says it’s “an exciting opportunity” for the Eagles to have Pueblo as its homecoming opponent.

“We know they have another outstanding team,” Long said. “We know they’ll run the ball well, play great defense and they always have excellent special teams. We showed that we’re strong in all those areas at Highlands. We’ll do our best to play that way again. We think we’ve got a chance to win this week, just like we always think that.”

Through five games, both teams have been giving up about as many yards as they have gained.

Chadron State is averaging 368.8 yards of total offense and the opponents are averaging 364.6. Pueblo is averaging 288.2 yards and has averaged 304.0.

The Eagles opened last Saturday’s game like a house afire, scoring 29 points in the first quarter while completing three long drives and returning a fumble for a touchdown. It was the most points the Eagles have scored in one quarter since Long took over as head coach in 2012.

The quarterback matchup on Saturday will be one of the interesting sidelights. The Eagles feature fifth-year senior Dalton Holst, who became CSC’s all-time passing yards leader with 10,278 by throwing for 232 against Highlands. So far this fall, Holst has completed 90 of 163 passes for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns.

Pueblo’s starter is redshirt freshman Steven Croell, a Broomfield, Colo., native, who is 51 of 85 for 506 yards and five TDs. Senior Devin Williams also has hit on 26 of 45 tosses for 247 yards and a TD.

The Wolves’ leading rusher is senior D.J. Penick, who is 5-10, 187 pounds. He has carried 65 times for 376 yards and two TDs. The Eagles will counter with junior Elijah Myles, who has 85 rushes for 410 yards and three scores.

Both teams have had a big turnover in personnel since they met in 2019, but both return their offensive left tackles who earned first-team all-conference laurels that season. They are the Eagles’ Justin Calderone (6-5, 315) and Pueblo’s Elijah Reed (6-6, 302).

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