CHADRON — October 12, 2019 — It looked as if the Chadron State College football team, which had gotten off to slow starts in four of its previous five games this fall, was in trouble again Saturday when the Adams State Grizzlies jumped out to a 16-0 lead 3 ½ minutes into the second quarter of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference clash in Chadron.
But things changed in the second quarter, when Eagles’ quarterback Dalton Holst threw four touchdown passes, three of them in the final three minutes, to take a 28-16 lead. The hosts also scored two of the three second half touchdowns and came away with a 42-23 triumph.
Bolstered by a string of big plays, the win broke Chadron State’s four-game losing streak and seemed to ignite lots of energy amongst the Eagles.
“We finally got momentum on our side and played an outstanding game,” Chadron State Head Coach Jay Long said. “This is the way we thought we’d be playing all season. The best remedy for losing is winning. This one feels really good.”
Adams State jumped out to a 7-0 lead when quarterback John Buksa hooked up with Tariq Biston on a 76-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter. Biston grabbed the ball about 40 yards downfield and could not be caught. He entered the game as NCAA Division II’s leader in yards receiving with 713 and touchdown receptions with nine.
During their next possession, the Grizzlies’ Erick Ruiz booted a 34-yard field goal. The visitors stretched their lead to 16-0 early in the second period after cornerback Ereon Nash stepped in front Chadron State’s intended receiver and took the interception 28 yards to the Chadron State 17. The Eagles were assessed a half the distance to the goal penalty on the tackle, setting up Bulsa’s nine-yard touchdown toss to Ian Fryday on the next play.
Things soon started to click for the Eagles, who drove 69 yards for their first touchdown. Junior Priest Jennings ripped off 24 yards on his first two carries. Holst then connected with inside receiver Cole Thurness for a 15-yard gain and followed with a 12-yard strike to Thurness in the corner of the east end zone.
After Adams State’s ensuing drive ended when CSC linebacker Lane Helgoth blocked a field goal attempt, the explosiveness of the Eagles’ offense surfaced.
Holst initially hit wide receiver Tevon Wright with a 41-yard touchdown bomb and followed it a minute and a half later with a 54-yard strike to wide open Brandon Fullerton. Both receivers are seniors.
That wasn’t the end of the Eagles’ eruption. Adams State was soon forced to punt, and the versatile Stevann Brown returned it 76 yards to the Grizzlies’ 12. Brown then ran for nine yards and Holst hit Wright with a dart on a crossing pattern in the end zone to make the score 28-16.
The Eagles added to their lead by going 60 yards on their first possession of the third quarter. A 17-yard pass to Thurness opened the drive and a 15-yard run by Brown cashed in the chips.
Chadron State scored its sixth consecutive touchdown when Jennings, who opened the drive with a 20-yard romp, went the final two yards with 8:38 to play. Adams State answered with a seven-play, 67-yard drive that saw Buksa connect on a 25-yard pass to Bitson and then hit Banner on 10-yard toss for the TD.
The Eagles finished with 538 total net yards, 50 more than Adams State. Holst competed 27 passes, his high of the season, for 328 yards, to go with the four touchdowns. Wright had seven catches for 114 yards and Thurness 10 for 91 to lead the CSC receivers.
Jennings was the game’s leading rusher with 11 carries for 87 yards. Brown had 18 carries from the line of scrimmage for 86 yards to go with a two kickoff returns for 78 yards and two punt returns for 76.
Buksa clicked on 24 of his 42 tosses for 317 yards. Bitson caught eight of them for 166 yards and the game’s opening touchdown, but he totaled just 42 yards in the second half.
Will Morgan made all six of his extra point attempts for the Eagles. Linebacker Travis Wilson again led CSC in tackle with 16 while both Tyree Fryar and Tyler Lewis participated in 10 and Noah Kerchal nine.
Lots of flags were thrown, but apparently the game was called evenly. Each team was assessed 14 penalties for 141 yards.
First Downs 21 31
Total Net Yards 488 538
Rushes, Yards 35-171 42-210
Passing Yards 317 328
Passing 24-42-0 27-44-1
Return Yards 93 154
Punts, Average 8-42.5 5-30.4
Fumbles, Lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties, Yards 14-141 14-141
Adams State 9 7 0 7 —-23
Chadron State 0 28 7 7 —-42
ASU–Tariq Bitson, 76 pass from John Buksa (pass failed)
ASU–Eric Rutz 34 field goal.
ASU–Ian Fryday 9 pass from Buksa (Eric Rutz kick)
CSC–Cole Thurness 12 pass from Dalton Holst (Will Morgan kick)
CSC–Tevon Wright 41 pass from Holst (Morgan kick)
CSC–Brandon Fullerton 54 pass from Holst (Morgan kick)
CSC–Wright 3 pass from Holst (Morgan kick) Morgan kick)
CSC–Stevann Brown 15 run (Morgan kick)
CSC–Priest Jennings 2 run (Morgan kick)
ASU–Ziere Banner 10 pass from Buksa (Ruiz kick)