After being thumped by Humboldt State in a non-conference game last Saturday night in California, the Chadron State football team will try to get back on the winning track this Saturday afternoon while playing Dixie State at St. George, Utah. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.
It will be the Eagles’ first football game in Utah. Dixie State visited Chadron State last fall, the Trailblazers’ first year in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, and came away with a 44-27 win during the Eagles’ homecoming.
Chadron State is 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference, good for third place in the standings. Prior to their trip to California, the Eagles had won their previous two games by a 122-33 margin.
To stay alive in the RMAC race, the Eagles need to have a strong October. After meeting Dixie State this weekend, they will play at New Mexico Highlands and host South Dakota Mines before tangling with Colorado Mines, one of the RMAC’s top contenders in recent years, in Chadron on Oct. 28.
Dixie State is 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference during what has been a rather unpredictable ride.
Highlands, which was 0-11 and averaged just 11 points a game last season, surprised the Trailblazers 23-22 in the season-opener by scoring two touchdowns and kicking a field goal in the final quarter.
South Dakota Mines then defeated the Trailblazers 35-14 in Rapid City for the Hardrockers’ only RMAC win this fall.
Dixie then won for the first time by knocking off Black Hills State 38-16 when the Yellow Jackets were without their starting quarterback.
Central Washington, ranked No. 20 at the time, had a 49-14 lead after three quarters, and won 58-40 despite Dixie’s four fourth-period touchdowns in the fourth game of the season.
Last Saturday, Dixie struggled to defeat winless Western State 15-12 in Gunnison. Each of the other foes have tallied at least 45 points against the Mountaineers this fall.
Last fall, Dixie built a 38-0 lead before the Eagles rallied to close the gap during the teams’ inaugural game. The Blazers netted 470 yards and started two touchdown drives from the Eagles’ five-yard line after claiming CSC turnovers.
Coached by Shay McClure, a nine-year assistant at Humboldt State before moving to Dixie State in 2015, the Blazers have a new starting quarterback and tailback this season, but a majority of the other starters were in the primary rotations a year ago.
The quarterback is Malik Watson, a 6-3, 220-pound transfer from San Jose State. He has completed 86 of 143 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s been intercepted six times.
The tailback is Sei-J Lauago, a 5-7, 170-pound fireplug who ran for a total of 150 yards as a freshman last fall. This season, he’s carried 82 times for 478 yards and four TDs. Blake Barney, the alternate quarterback, is the team’s second-leading ground-gainer with 198 yards.
CSC head coach Jay Long admitted that the 56-13 loss to Humboldt State was a blow to the Eagles’ pride. But he predicted the coaches and players will “fix it and flush it” this week and the team will play well again Saturday.
Long said the Eagles had no major injuries at Humboldt State.