CHADRON, Neb. — November 7, 2019 — As the football season winds down, the Chadron State College Eagles will attempt to win their fifth game in a row Saturday when they host South Dakota School of Mines at Elliott Field. Kickoff will be at noon. CSC will honor “service members”, including military veterans and active personnel, as well as first responders, with free admission.
While the Eagles won just one of their first five games before righting the ship and are now 5-4 overall and 4-4 in the RMAC, the Mines Hardrockers have struggled most of the season. They are 2-7 this fall and 1-7 in the conference.
To their credit, three of their losses were by eight or fewer points to solid opponents. They include a 37-33 loss to Colorado Mesa in the season-opener, a 21-13 decision to perennial power Colorado State-Pueblo in early October and a 37-32 setback at Adams State on Oct. 19.
The lone conference victory was an 8-7 nailbiter two weeks ago when the Hardrockers completed a five-yard pass with 21 seconds remaining to edge New Mexico Highlands 8-7 after Mines had blocked a punt for a safety earlier in the game.
Prior to that, Mines went to Canada on Sept. 21 and defeated Simon Fraser 26-7 in a non-conference contest.
The Hardrockers are a young team with just one senior listed as a probable starter on offense and only three on defense.
While the Eagles are second in the RMAC in total offense entering the 10th game of the season at 456.9 yards a game, the Hardrockers are eighth at 312.1 yards.
Mines’ primary offensive weapon is running back Ahmad Lewis, a 5-11, 200-pound junior from Tacoma, Wash. He leads the RMAC in rushing with 229 carries for 1,086 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s run for at least 94 yards in all but one game this season, topped by 217 yards against Adams State.
Chadron State’s Elijah Myles, who has carried 152 times for 818 yards and a 5.4-yard average, is second on the RMAC rushing list after rambling for 514 yards in the last three games.
The Hardrockers have used three quarterbacks. They have combined to complete 129 of 298 passes for 1,466 yards and eight touchdowns. They’ve been intercepted 12 times.
Chadron State quarterback Dalton Holst continues to lead the RMAC in passing with 189 completions on 350 tosses for 2,514 yards and 26 TDs. He’s been intercepted just six times.
Most of CSC’s passes have been caught by three receivers. Rangy senior Tevon Wright has 55 catches for 833 yards and 12 touchdowns, junior Cole Thurness has 56 receptions for 692 yards and seven TDs while senior Brandon Fullerton has 24 for 424 yards and four scores.
While the offense gets much of the credit for the Eagles surge the second half of the season, the defense also has played extra well in recent games, yielding an average of only 323 yards to the last three opponents.
To be sure, the Eagles were fortunate to win last year’s game, which was played on a cold, blustery day in Rapid City.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, Mines’ all-RMAC quarterback Jake Sullivan completed a 24-yard pass to Anthony Ullrich, who lost the ball just before he reached the end zone when he was hit by CSC’s scrappy Tyler Lewis. The fumble was claimed by another CSC linebacker, Travis Wilson, about a foot from the goal line as time expired, allowing the Eagles to win 50-46.
It was the fourth time the Eagles had come from behind in the final quarter to win last season, but none of the others was as climatic.
Dave Collins, radio’s voice of the Eagles, called it a “magnificently incredible game.” The winner gets possession of the Eagle Rock traveling trophy.
The Eagles also will be at home for their final game on Saturday, Nov. 16, when undefeated and nationally-ranked Colorado Mines will visit. The Orediggers beat the Hardrockers in Rapid City last Saturday 49-28.