After spotting Western State a 17-0 lead and successfully fighting its way back into last Saturday’s Family Day game only to be rebuffed, the Chadron State College football team will play Saturday and play at Adams State in Alamosa, Colo., on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
CSC head coach Jay Long said his team had lots of positives and also several negatives in the tussle with Western, which the Mountaineers won 24-15. He said the Eagles are still searching for an offensive identity and consistency on both sides of the ball.
“We’re going to simplify things and concentrate on what we can do best,” Long stated with regard to the offense.
Through three games, the Eagles have averaged just 3.4 yards on 95 rushing plays and completed 57 of 106 passes for 637 yards. They are only 18 of 47 on third down conversions.
Long said both his team and Adams State are excited about Saturday’s game. It will kick off at 1 o’clock. While CSC is 1-2, the Grizzlies are winless in their three RMAC contests.
Black Hills State edged Adams State 34-33 in the season-opener. Western State caged the Grizzlies 56-25 and Fort Lewis won its first game of the season 21-16 last Saturday while playing in Alamosa.
Adams State doesn’t have a weapon comparable to Western State’s Austin Ekeler, who gained 283 yards against the Eagles, but junior tailback Cory Brown is averaging 6.2 yards on 37 carries. The Grizzlies also like to pass. They have thrown the ball 136 times and run it 89 times from scrimmage.
Junior Jorge Hernandez has been the primary quarterback. He’s completed 45 of 89 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns.
As usual, the Grizzlies have a strong kicking game. Senior Zach Cimaglia was tabbed the RMAC Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year and does both the placekicking and punting. He has made three of four field goal attempts and is averaging 38.6 yards on eight punts this season.
A year ago, Cimaglia led the conference’s punters with a 43.8-yard average.
After playing three hard-hitting games, injuries have taken a toll on the Eagles. Long indicated that starting quarterback TD Stein, who has an upper chest injury, remains questionable for Saturday’s game.
CSC also has missed senior defensive end Tyler Kiess, who sustained a badly sprained ankle in the season-opener and has not been able to return. Long said Kiess, who became a regular as a true freshman, may redshirt this season if he can’t return soon.
CSC defensive coordinator Jeff Larson said several others players who are on the Eagles’ two-deep defensive chart are “banged up.”
“We’re just going to have to reload and get after it,” Larson noted. “It will probably give several younger players the chance to see quite a bit of action. Thankfully, both starting cornerbacks [Steve Allen and Devante Thomas] seem to be healthy and another corner, Trey Mosley, is at full speed again.”
Despite Ekeler’s success against the Eagles, Long said tackles Truett Box and Mitch Collicott played extra well in the defensive line. The coach also said tailback Cody Paul “provided a spark” on offense.
Paul’s 11-yard dash into the end zone in the fourth period appeared to give the Eagles the lead, but it was erased by a holding call.
Another bright spot in the running game was the 56-yard sprint by redshirt freshman Priest Jenningsto open the second half. It was the first carry in Jennings’ career.
Sophomore receiver Max Gray collected double-digit receptions for the second consecutive week against Western State, and now leads the conference with 7.7 receptions per game.
The Eagles lead the all-time series versus the Grizzles 23-4.
After this weekend’s trip, the Eagles will be at home for three consecutive contests.