The Chadron State College football team led by just 7-0 at halftime, but scored five touchdowns and kicked a field goal in the second half while defeating Western Oregon 45-7 in a non-conference game played at Elliott Field in Chadron on Saturday afternoon.
The 10-play, 80-yard drive that netted the Eagles’ first touchdown with 43 seconds left in the first quarter was about the only offensive fireworks in the first half. But three turnovers that the Eagles turned into points ignited their second half uprising that evened their record at 5-5.
“The first half was kind of boring, but we got the momentum and had lots of good things happen in the second half,” said CSC Coach Jay Long. “It was a good win for us and I was happy for our seniors, who got a win in their final home game.”
Two wily seniors, quarterback Dalton Holst and inside receiver Cole Thurness, set up the first half touchdown by connecting on back-to-back passes of 16 and 18 yards. Holst’s 10-yard dart to sophomore Ahlonte Hair in the front of the end zone netted the touchdown with 43 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Otherwise, the first half was pretty much a punting contest between the Eagles’ Gunnar Jones and the Wolves’ Andrew Gross. Both punted five times for averages of 41.8 and 40.8 yards, respectively.
The Eagles posted 17 points in a two minute and 10 second span in the third quarter to put them on the victory trail, then added 21 points on three TDs in the fourth.
Another Holst-to-Ahlonte Hair touchdown pass, this one a 47-yard shot, launched the Eagles’ second half surge. Hair got about a step and a half ahead of the defender and grabbed the perfect pass on a perfect autumn afternoon while in full stride with 10:42 left in the third.
The Wolves failed to cover the ensuing kickoff, and CSC junior Cole Condon claimed the ball at the Western 25. The Eagles were stymied on that possession, but, Jones, who doubles as the CSC punter and placekicker, booted a 40-yard field goal to make the score 17-0.
On the third play of the Wolves’ next possession, cornerback Jahvonte Hair, twin of the receiver who had caught the two CSC touchdowns, zoomed in front of the intended receiver and picked off a pass that he returned 16 yards before being shoved out of bounds at the Western 19.
On the first play after the interception, the Eagles’ leading rusher, sophomore Jeydon Cox, took the ball around right end to the end zone.
The Eagles added to their lead early in the fourth quarter when the Wolves fumbled a pitchout at their own five-yard line and CSC defensive end Kael Juelfs turned the loose pigskin into a lineman’s dream, claiming it in the end zone for another six points.
“When you keep hustling it sometimes pays off,” said Juelfs, one of 18 seniors who were playing their final game at Elliott Field. “I knew I had to get it when I saw that ball go into the end zone.”
Cox, who finished the game with 112 yards rushing on 13 carries, had back-to-back carries totaling 60 yards that resulted in another CSC touchdown with 12 minutes left to play. He went 33 yards on the first romp and 27 on the second.
Each team scored on long pass plays as the clock was winding down. The Oregon visitors got the first, a 58-yarder from Gannon Winkler to Thomas Wright for their only touchdown. The Eagles posted the second, a 69-yard strike from Mason Hamilton to Jamal Browder, both freshmen.
Most of the statistics were much closer than the final score. The Eagles ran 71 plays and finished with 400 yards of total offense, while the Wolves had 69 snaps and 389 yards. There was less than a minute of difference in the time of possession.
But the Eagles had four takeaways and didn’t commit any turnovers. As much as anything, that’s what made the difference on the scoreboard.
Holst completed 13 of 28 passes for 133 yards and also ran for 44. The Wolves used three quarterbacks about equally. None of them completed more than 30 percent of his passes, and as a trio the connected on 10 of 33 for 265 yards. Winkler was the leading receiver with 136 yards on four catches. Their leading rusher was Omari Land with 17 carries for 87 yards.
Linebackers again led the Eagles in tackles. Sophomore Joey Geil, who also recovered a fumble, led with eight and seniors Noah Kerchal and Travis Wilson each had six. Linebacker Jaylin Parnell paced Western with 12 stops.
The Eagles will wrap up their season by playing at Black Hills State in Spearfish this coming Saturday, Nov. 13.
First Downs 15 20
Total Net Yards 389 400
Rushes, Yards 26-124 39-194
Passing Yards 265 206
Passing 10-33-1 15-30-0
Return Yards 73 66
Fumbles, Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties, Yards 9-56 3-25
Western Oregon 0 0 0 7 —-7
Chadron State 7 0 17 21 —45
CSC—Ahlonte Hair 10 pass from Dalton Holst (Gunnar Jones kick)
CSC—Ahlonte Hair 47 pass from Holst (Jones kick)
CSC—Jones 40 field goal.
CSC—Jeydon Cox 19 run (Jones kick)
CSC—Kael Juelfs recovered WOU fumble in end zone (Jones kick)
CSC—Jeydon Cox 27 run (Jones kick)
WOU—Thomas Wright 58 pass from Gannon Winkler (Danny Cossette kick)
CSC—Jamal Browder 69 pass from Morgan Hamilton (Jones kick).