Two football teams hungry for a victory will match up Saturday, when Chadron State will play its third consecutive home game. Kickoff will be at noon.
The Eagles are 1-5 this season while their guests, the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys, are 0-6.
“It’s a big game for us,” said CSC coach Jay Long. “We’ve got to go out and play better. We never thought we’d be in this position. Sometimes we look like a good team, other times we’re a really poor team.”
Long said the Eagles’ first half against Dixie State last Saturday was their worst of the season. The visitors had a 24-0 halftime lead, then things went farther downhill in the second half when CSC uncharacteristically lost two turnovers that Dixie turned into touchdowns in the first 4:15 of the second half.
But the Eagles tallied four of the game’s final five touchdowns for what Long called “a positive finish, showing that we never quit.”
As the record indicates, Highlands also has struggled. The Cowboys have been outscored 389 to 64 points. Their latest loss was 44-17 to South Dakota Mines on Saturday, and that’s the most points the Cowboys have managed this season.
The Highlands’ quarterback is Cody Keith, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior who has completed 101 of 199 passes for 1,131 yards and seven of the team’s eight touchdowns. He’s been intercepted five times.
Regan Atkins, a 6-6 junior, and Vincent Venegas, a 5-11 running back, are the team’s top receivers with 26 catches for 315 yards and 25 with 300, respectively. Venegas also has carried 54 times for 156 yards. The team’s rushing leader is Jairan Manning with 229 yards.
“They do a lot of different things on offense,” Long said. “But we’re primarily focusing on what we can do best. Mainly, we’ve got to figure out how to play four (strong) quarters.”
The Eagles’ offensive highlights against Dixie included Jackson’s 41-yard run, followed immediately by Priest Jennings‘ 35-yard romp for a touchdown on the next play.
Collicott participated in seven tackles, at least twice the usual number for a nose tackle, Long said. He also noted that redshirt freshman Cooper Mirich, a linebacker who had not played previously, had five unassisted and one assisted tackle in the latter stages of the game and will probably start against the Cowboys.
Highlands also was winless when it visited Elliott Field a year ago, but limited the Eagles to just 221 yards and won 24-16.
Chadron State is 20-4 all-time against the Cowboys, dating back to the teams’ first meeting in 1992. The three other losses were in 1993, 1997, and 1998 – when the Eagles were league co-champions with Western State.