Eagles To Visit Highlands Cowboys

Emma Jurewicz/CSC Sports Info

Two football teams that haven’t opened the season as well as they had hoped will match up at noon on Saturday in Las Vegas, N.M., where the Chadron State Eagles will visit the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys for a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference clash.

Both teams have 1-3 records and are 0-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. They have a common opponent. Both lost to Colorado Mesa. The Mavericks defeated Highlands 56-37 on Sept. 18 while Mesa held on for a 24-17 verdict over Chadron State last Saturday.

The Eagles had the edge in about every statistical category in Grand Junction except what was on the scoreboard. They out-yarded the Mavericks 402 to 327, had 25 first downs compared to 18, possessed the ball 7 ½ more minutes, converted on nine of 17 third downs as opposed to three of 12 for Mesa and punted just twice.

But the Eagles are averaging only 20.5 points through their first four games, and, as Head Coach Jay Long noted on his radio show this week, that’s not enough in this era of college football.

“We get a lot of yards, but lack points. We need to find a way to get in the end zone,” Long stated.

The Eagles also lost to Colorado Western 23-10 in their opener and were nipped by Angelo State 28-24 before defeating South Dakota Mines 31-20 two weeks ago. Then came the setback at Colorado Mesa.

Highlands opened its season with a 44-7 walloping of Fort Lewis before dropping a 31-21 decision to RMAC preseason favorite Colorado Mines. The high-scoring shootout with Mesa followed. Last week, the Cowboys lost 40-21 to NCAA Division I FCS Tarleton State of Texas in a non-conference tilt.

The Cowboys are averaging 475.5 yards while giving up 412.3 a game. Quarterback Ramon Atkins has completed 84 of 160 passes for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns to go with five interceptions. He’s also run for 220 yards. His favorite target is the RMAC’s leading receiver, CJ Sims, a 5-foot-6, 160-pound scatback who has caught 24 passes for 480 yards and five TDs, besides returning a kickoff 93 yards for a score.

Chadron State quarterback Dalton Holst completed 29 of 51 passes for 290 yards last Saturday. That gave him 10,036 career passing yards, just 79 shy of Jonn McLain’s school record. For the season, the senior from Gillette, Wyo., has completed 79 of 141 tosses for 917 yards and five TDs. He’s been intercepted once.

Seniors are the Eagles’ receiving leaders. Cole Thurness has 22 receptions for 164 yards and Chad Mikelson has 14 for 252. In addition, Jahani Wright has 10 catches for 109 yards and Montel Gladney eight for 148.

The Eagles’ leading rusher, Elijah Myles, has 77 carries for 345 yards and three touchdowns.

Middle linebacker Jeremiah Makahununiu is the Eagles’ tackle leader with 42 stops, half of them unassisted. Both outside linebacker Noah Kerchal and safety Brendan Brehmer have 29 tackles, followed by another linebacker, Travis Wilson, with 20.

Chadron State has fared well against Highlands through the years, holding a 24-4 bulge in the all-time series. The Cowboys’ last win in the series was 24-16 in 2015. In 2018, the Eagles barely won 43-38 in a game that saw CSC roll up 553 yards of total offense and Highlands 517.

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