CHADRON, Neb. — October 31, 2018 — Big time offensive explosiveness could be the order of the day again Saturday when the Chadron State Eagles visit O’Harra Stadium in Rapid City to battle the South Dakota Mines Hardrockers. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Both teams have rolled up gobs of yards and scored a vast number of points, but both also have given up large quantities of both, logically setting the stage for another high scoring contest that should keep the fans entertained.
The Eagles, who will not play a non-conference game this year, are 6-2 while the Hardrockers are 4-5 overall and 3-5 in the RMAC. Mines defeated Simon Fraser of Canada 52-29 in its non-league contest.
The Hardrockers’ three RMAC victories have been over Western State 38-21, Black Hills State 62-14 and Adams State 56-42.
All four wins have been at home and, all of Mines’ losses have been on the road.
Three of them were by the narrowest of margins. Colorado Mesa edged the Rockers 36-33, Dixie State hung on 51-47 and New Mexico Highlands pulled out a 53-52 squeaker two weeks ago in Las Vegas.
The Hardrockers also lost at CSU-Pueblo 41-14 on Sept. 29 and fell to undefeated Colorado Mines 84-42 last Saturday in Golden.
The Hardrockers’ game against the Colorado Mines Orediggers, the Eagles’ season finale opponent on Nov. 10, was a stemwinder.
Colorado Mines led 49-42 at halftime, then scored five more touchdowns in the third period while blanking the Hardrockers in the second half.
Colorado Mines rolled up 654 total net yards and South Dakota Mines accumulated 496. Those teams not only lead the RMAC in total offense, but they also rank one-two nationally in net yardage from the line of scrimmage.
South Dakota Mines is averaging 548.7 yards a game, just 3.6 yards a game fewer than Colorado Mines. Chadron State is averaging 451.4 yards a game, 24th highest in the nation this season. That figure would be the Eagles’ fourth highest all-time if it can be maintained the final two games.
When it comes putting points on the scoreboard. The Hardrockers are averaging 44 a game and the Eagles 37.8
Defensively, both of Saturday’s foes are down the lists quite a ways. The Hardrockers have yielded an average of 462.9 yards a game and the Eagles 478.2, putting them eighth and ninth among the conference’s 11 teams in total defense.
The CSC defense, though, has been giving up 11 fewer points a game than the Rapid City team. The opponents have scored an average 30 points a game against the Eagles and 41.1 against the Hardrockers.
“We’ve definitely given up a lot of yards, but we’ve made some big stops and gotten some big turnovers when it’s really counted, particularly in the last two games,” CSC defensive coordinator Jeff Larson said. “I just hope we can do that again Saturday because their offense is potent.”
The Hardrockers have several exceptional offensive players. Quarterback Jake Sullivan, a graduate of St. Thomas More High in Rapid City, has completed 236 of 365 passes for 2,864 yards (318.2 per game) to rank second in the RMAC to Colorado Mines’ Isaac Harker in yards per game passing.
Sullivan also can run the ball. He’s rushed for 324 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s thrown for 24 TDs.
There’s also running back Connor Silveria, who set the Division II national single-game rushing record of 425 yards while carrying 46 times against Adams State on Oct. 13. Silveria, who is 5-11, 200, also ran for 123 yards the next week against New Mexico Highlands before leaving the game in the third period because of an injury. He did not play on Saturday in Golden and his status against the Eagles has not been disclosed.
With Silveria not able to play the entire game against Highlands, Sullivan really unleashed the Mines’ passing game, completing 45 of 60 passes for 592 yards, all Hardrockers’ records. He clicked on 33 of 54 tosses for 425 yards and five TD versus Colorado Mines and also led the team in rushing but for only 28 yards.
Sullivan’s favorite target is wide receiver Isaiah Manley, who caught 14 passes against both Highland and Colorado Mines to tie the school’s single-game record.
For the season, Manley has 73 catches for 1,016 yards and 11 TDs.
All three of the Mines’ standouts mentioned are seniors. However, Dominick Jackson, who leads the RMAC in interceptions with six, is a sophomore.
The Eagles have won both of the games against the Hardrockers since the series, which dates back to 1912, was resumed after a 20-year hiatus before Mines joined the RMAC.
CSC came from behind to win 37-33 in Rapid City in 2016, when quarterback Matt Vinson threw five touchdown passes for the Eagles. Last year in Chadron, the Eagles took a 15-0 lead in the first quarter and won 29-17.
The winner gets possession of the Eagle-Rock trophy. CSC leads the all-time series 48-18.