Humboldt State scored three touchdowns in the first seven minutes, yielded nearly 250 yards to Chadron State in the first half, but defeated the Eagles 56-13 here Saturday night.
Now 4-0, the Lumberjacks led 35-13 at halftime and picked off five passes in the second half after the Eagles had little choice but to throw the ball on nearly every play.
The Lumberjacks initially scored on a two-yard run by alternate running back Jabar Byrd’s after all-star quarterback Robert Webber hit wide receiver John Todd with a 37-yard pass.
Just two minutes later after the Eagles were forced to punt, Webber connected with Jamere Austin on a 42-yard touchdown strike.
Next, after the Eagles fumbled away the ball following a pass completion, Webber threw a screen pass to Byrd, who carried it 39 yards to the end zone to make the score 21-0 with 8:47 left in the opening quarter.
Bolstered by passes from redshirt freshman quarterback Dalton Holst to Jackson Dickerson and Stevann Brown that gained 32 yards, the Eagles drove more than 60 yards on their next possession, but missed a 36-yard field goal attempt.
As the second quarter was opening, Chadron State defensive end Kyle Temple recovered a Lumberjack fumble at midfield. Holst connected on a 20-yard toss to senior Jack Dobyns and followed it with a 13-yard pass in the end zone to Brandon Fullerton to put the Eagles on the scoreboard.
The teams then traded long touchdown drives. Humboldt went 74 yards, reaching the end zone on Webber’s six-yard pass to Richard Doctor.
The Eagles responded with a lickety-split, 75-yard drive. It opened on a pair of 12-yard passes from Holst to sophomore Tevon Wright, included a nine-yard run by Dickerson and a 34-yard pass to Hemingford product Colt Foster that carried to the Lumberjacks’ two. CSC tailback Kevin Coy scored on the next play, making the score 28-13 with 4:33 remaining in the second period.
Humboldt was called for holding on the ensuing kickoff but on the first play from scrimmage, Webber, who finished the night with 15 completions on 22 attempts for 328 yards and four touchdowns, hooked up with his favorite receiver, John Todd, for an 86-yard scoring play.
The Eagles mounted a mild threat before halftime, but a receiver fumbled after he was hit hard by three Lumberjacks to foil the drive.
Chadron State reached the Humboldt 10 early in the third period, before two passes in the end zone fell incomplete to snuff out the threat.
The Eagles got the ball back almost immediately when cornerback Chris Harris picked off Webber’s pass at the CSC five. They picked up a pair of first downs, but Holst’s pass was intercepted by James Clark after had been tipped. Humboldt’s star running back, Ja’Quan Gardner, fumbled after gaining 25 yards, but the loose ball was recovered at the Eagles’ two by a teammate. Gardner scored on the next play, making the score 41-13.
The Lumberjacks swiped four more Chadron State passes in the fourth quarter and turned two of them in to touchdowns. Three of the pass thefts were by sophomore safety Daveon Johnson, who returned one of them 48 yards to paydirt and took another inside the five.
Gardner 20 carried times for 135 yards to account for most of Humboldt’s rushing yardage. Altogether, Humboldt had 525 yards while the Eagles finished with 348, all but 46 of it through the air.
Holst completed 27 of 53 passes. Dickerson caught nine for 114 yards and Foster five for 70. Tackle Truett Box and linebacker Keenan Johnson each had 10 tackles to pace the Eagles, now 3-2 for the season.
CSC coach Jay Long was complimentary of the Lumberjacks following the game.
“Going into the game,” Long said. “we knew their offense was explosive and could score fast. They scored 21 points on us in the first quarter, and that forced us to be one-dimensional on offense. I felt in the game we had some opportunities to get back into the game, and we just couldn’t capitalize.”
Long added that he’s on the American Football Coaches Association rating committee and will undoubtedly rank the Lumberjacks pretty high this week.