CHADRON, Neb. — October 4, 2018 — The Chadron State Eagles will launch the second half of their schedule on Saturday when they visit Adams State in Alamosa, Colo., for another Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest. Kickoff is set for 1 o’clock.
The Eagles are 4-1, defeating Black Hills State, Fort Lewis, Colorado Mesa and Western State and losing to Colorado State-Pueblo. They have scored 167 points and accumulated 2,155 yards and have given up 119 points and 1,984 yards.
Adams State lost its first two games, falling to Colorado Mines 49-7 and New Mexico Highlands 65-37, but has defeated the last three foes by narrow margins. The Grizzlies shaded Black Hills State 44-41, Western State 55-52 and Fort Lewis 45-42.
Altogether, the Grizzlies have tallied 191 points and rolled up 2,368 yards, both second only to undefeated Colorado Mines in RMAC stats. The opponents also have compiled big numbers. They have scored 249 points, the most in the conference, and gained 2,401 yards.
The story was about the same for Adams State a year ago, when it had a 4-7 overall record and was 4-6 in the RMAC. Last year’s team averaged 32.4 points but gave up 45.6 per game. The Grizzlies were also second in total offense at 488.1 yards a game, but the opponents averaged 552.7
Last year’s Eagles-Grizzlies game was comparable of how things went for Adams State much of the season. The Eagles scored 10 touchdowns, seven of them in the first half to take a 51-26 lead, and went on to win 73-46. It was the eighth time Chadron State scored 70 or more points in a game.
The Eagles racked up 495 total net yards, rushing for 219 yards and throwing for 276. Adams State rushed for just 34 yards but passed for 328.
The Grizzles’ offense is fired by quarterback Nick Rooney, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior from Minnetonka, Minn. During two years at Rochester Community and Technical College in his home state, he threw 105 touchdown passes to set the National Junior College Athletic Association record. His 7,884 passing yards also was the all-time NJCAA mark.
Last year was Rooney’s first at Adams State. He led the RMAC in most of the passing stats, completing 271 of 441 tosses for 3,163 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was intercepted only 10 times.
CSC defensive coordinator Jeff Larson said he admires Rooney’s abilities.
“He throws the ball all over the place, has a really quick release and welcomes contact,” Larson said. “He doesn’t run much, but moves really well in the pocket.”
Both of Rooney’s leading receivers from a year ago are back. They are seniors Chad Hovasse, 6-1, 215, and Marquese Surrel, 6-3, 180.
In 2017, Hovasse led the RMAC with 87 catches for 1,201 yards and 14 touchdowns while Surrel grabbed 68 for 954 yards and 10 TDs.
So far this season, Hovasse has 41 receptions for 560 yards and seven scores, and Surrel has 35 catches for 531 yards and five TDs.
The Adams State ground game is led by Tyree Harris, a 5-11, 205-pound senior who has rushed 94 times for 493 yards. He got 254 of those yards against Black Hills State, when he carried 32 times.
One of the Grizzlies’ most impressive statistics is scoring 22 of the 24 times they have reached the red zone. Eighteen of the scores have been touchdowns.
The Eagles are 14 of 17 in the red zone, but also have scored nine touchdowns on plays that originated beyond the 20-yard line, two more on interceptions and another on a blocked punt.
Individually, Chadron State doesn’t have as many players as Adams State at the top of RMAC statistical lists, but has played well on both sides of the ball to go with numerous special teams plays. The Eagles’ offense can both run and throw the ball while the defense has played particularly well, especially when it’s considered that all but four of last year’s starters expended their eligibility.
Quarterback Dalton Holst is among the reasons the Eagles are improved this fall. He has completed 95 of 154 passes for 61.7 percent, up nine points from a year ago. He’s also scored eight touchdowns and has been intercepted just once.
Despite the fact that all-star tight end Colt Foster suffered a season-ending knee injury during his first play of the season, Holst still has an array of capable receivers.
Inside receiver Jackson Dickerson leads the Eagles with 27 catches for 291 yards while both of the starting wide receivers, Tevon Wright and Brandon Fullerton, have 17 receptions for 317 and 284 yards, respectively. Versatile Cole Thurness has 15 catches for 175 yards. Each of the four has two touchdown receptions.
Hard-running Kevin Coy, Jr, leads the ground game with 86 rushes for 343 yards and six touchdowns, most of them on determined plunges up the middle. Junior Stevann Brown has 35 carries for 294 yards for an 8.4-yard average and freshman Elijah Myles has toted the ball 42 times for 236 yards and two TDs.
Linebackers Tyler Lewis and Keenan Johnson lead the Eagles in tackles with 47 and 43, respectively. Next up are safetys Tyree Fryar, a junior college transfer, with 38 stops and Malik Goss, a freshman, with 30. Both have come up a big interception.
Fryar’s theft ended the game at Colorado Mesa and Goss’s pick led to his 82-yard return that got things going against Western State last Saturday.
The defensive line, led by ends Kyle Temple and Calder Forcella, also has been tough. The pair has combined for seven quarterback sacks. A variety of tackles also have gotten high marks from the CSC coaching staff while rotating in the middle of the line.
After the trip to Alamosa, the Eagles will be idle the following Saturday, Oct. 13. They will host Dixie State on Oct. 20. Like CSC, the Dixie State enters this week’s action with a 4-1 record.