CHADRON – Dixie State racked up 36 first downs and 631 yards against Chadron State College on Saturday afternoon, but the Eagles’ defense came up big when it counted most, stopping the Trailblazers inside the five-yard line near the end both the first and second halves en route to winning the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference contest in Chadron, 30-18.
Already relieved that Dixie State had not scored following the second goal-line stand and the Eagles were still ahead 23-18, the large Friends and Family Day crowd got a special a thrill before heading home.
After gaining nothing on two carries while primarily trying to run out the clock, CSC senior tailback Kevin Coy somehow stomped through another mass of humanity in the middle of the line, broke free and romped 97 yards to the opposite end of the field for the longest play from scrimmage in Eagles’ history. There were just 16 seconds remaining when he scored.
Generally not known for his speed, Coy had raced 83 yards to the goal line two weeks ago against Adams State for the Eagles’ 10th longest touchdown run all time. He said the Saturday’s even longer jaunt was quite a thrill.
“I guess all that hard work has paid off,” Coy stated. When asked how he managed to break free, he said, “Maybe everybody got a block, I don’t know, but it was fun.”
The game was filled with big plays and long drives, but in the end it was defensive stops that spelled the difference, Chadron State Coach Jay Long said.
“The defense made some big plays when it was absolutely necessary,” Long said. “They were just four of 14 on third down conversions and one of five on fourth down. They also were only three of eight in the red zone. I’m proud of how our guys fought, grappled and scrapped.”
Coy, who now has 11 touchdowns for the season, also scored the Eagles’ first TD on a one-yard run to cap a 75-yard drive on the game’s opening possession. A 36-yard gain on a pass thrown by tailback Stevann Brownto tight end Matt Vargas, who made a one-handed catch, got things started.
Brown’s 50-yard run set up the Eagles’ second touchdown early in the second period on a four-yard pass from quarterback Dalton Holst to wide receiver Tevon Wright.
The Eagles’ also tacked on a 26-yard field goal by Will Morgan to take a 16-0 halftime lead after inside receiver Cole Thurness broke several tackles en route to gaining 57 yards on Holst’s pass over the middle.
Dixie State missed two field goals in the first half, then left ball on the Eagles’ three-yard line as the half ended. Long credited pressure from the middle of the CSC line as a reason the field goals tries veered off to the right.
The Trailblazers needed just seven plays to drive 76 yards for a touchdown to open the second half and connected on a 22-yard field goal midway in the third quarter to cut the Eagles’ lead to 16-11.
Dixie quarterback Michael Sanders connected on six straight passes before tailback Sei-J Lauago ran the final seven yards for the TD.
The Eagles retaliated when Holst and Brandon Fullerton teamed up on a 39-yard pass play for a touchdown with 4:20 to play in the third period. A 17-yard toss to freshman back Elijah Myles and his 18-yard run were included in the 62-yard drive.
Dixie State drove 80 yards early in the fourth quarter and scored on Sanders’ 10-yard pass to Kasey Allison to shrink Chadron State’s lead to 23-18. The big play was a leaping grab in the middle of the field by Xavier Smith, good for 35 yards.
A 48-yard pass from Sanders to Allison helped set up Dixie State’s late threat. The Utah team had a first and goal at the CSC nine and then completed a pass that put the ball at the three. But the Eagles’ defense thwarted the next three Trailblazers’ plays. CSC defensive end Calder Forcella was credited with tackles for negative yardage on two of them.
The Eagles are now 5-2 for the season and Dixie is 5-3. Both of Dixie’s other losses were to nationally-ranked Colorado State-Pueblo and Grand Valley State of Michigan and four of their previous RMAC wins came on touchdown drives in the final three minutes of the game.
Sanders completed 39 of 60 passes for 527 yards while Holst connected on 23 of 35 for 260 yards. Thanks to Coy’s 97-yard run, the Eagles out-yarded the Blazers 177 to 104 on the ground, but Dixie had a 631 to 473 yardage margin overall.
A pair of players named Johnson led the Eagles in tackles with 11 apiece. One of them, Chadron senior Kennan Johnson, the team’s leading tackler each of the past two years, is often at the top of the lists.
But the other one, true freshman Davon Johnson of Ballwin, Mo., who was credited with nine solos, matched his season-total Saturday. Just 5-8, 140 pounds, he entered the game after starting cornerback DeAndre Barthwell reinjured his shoulder in the first period and obviously didn’t shy from contact.
The Eagles will wrap up their home schedule this Saturday against New Mexico Highlands.
First Downs 36 14
Total Net Yards 631 473
Rushes, Yards 32-104 24-177
Passing Yards 527 296
Passing 39-60-1 24-36-0
Return Yards 91 52
Fumbles, Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties, Yards 5-40 8-80
Dixie State 0 0 11 7 —-18
Chadron State 6 10 7 7 —-30