RAPID CITY, S.D. – The defenses dominated the first half, but the offenses made up for lost time in the second half here Saturday night as the Chadron State College football team continued its mastery over South Dakota Mines with a 37-22 triumph.
The win was the Eagles’ second over the Hardrockers in two weeks. The first game was played in Chadron with the Eagles winning 41-25. They have now won all six of the matchups since the rivalry was renewed in 2016 after Mines joined the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, but none of them have been easy.
Mines was fired up for the Halloween contest after downing Colorado Mesa 24-9 the previous Saturday.
“It’s always hard to beat a team twice in one season,” CSC Coach Jay Long said. “We didn’t do a good job of protecting our quarterback, Dalton Holst, in the first half, so we struggled. But our defense held and we did much better giving Holst time in the second half and it showed.”
The senior from Gillette connected on a pair of 39-yard passes to freshman Jahani Wright and a 40-yarder to senior tight end Baylor Hayes to spark the Eagles’ attack in the second half. Wright caught the first bomb for a touchdown and the other two big gainers set up touchdowns.
Neither team scored in the first quarter and Chadron State held just a 9-3 halftime lead. But both offenses got untracked in the second half when they combined for 47 points.
Mines opened the scoring on the first play of the second period on Enis Sefa’s 28-yard field goal. The Eagles got their first points three minutes later when Holst connected on 25-yard pass to all-star receiver Cole Thurness and tailback Chris Busby, freshman from Scottsbluff, capped the 57-yard drive with runs of 13 and one yard. The extra point try was blocked.
Chadron State added a 36-yard field goal by Drake Holdren on the last play of the half, soon after linebacker Travis Wilson had intercepted a Mines pass at the hosts’ 23.
Mines opened the second half by going 75 yards in nine plays to knot the score. Quarterback Spencer Zur hit Isaiah Eastman with a 14-yard pass for the TD. It stayed tied at 9-9 when the Eagles blocked the point after try.
The visitors answered in a hurry. Wilson returned the kickoff to midfield, Thurness ran for 13 yards and on the next play Holst connected with Wright, who made a beautiful leaping catch in the end zone, on the first of the 39-yard bombs. Holdren made this extra point and Chadron State led the rest of the way.
Chadron State stretched the lead to 23-9 with 3:30 left in the third frame after a short punt gave the visitors the ball at the Mines 26. It took the Eagles eight plays to reach paydirt, but Jalen Starks, their 250-pound tailback, eventually leaped into the end zone from the one-yard line.
The Hardrockers responded by going 60 yards in 11 plays with their bruiser, Ahmed Lewis, scoring from the one on the second play of the fourth period.
The Eagles scored the next two touchdowns to pretty well seal the verdict.
They needed just three plays to go 50 yards the first time after Holst and Wright hooked up on another 39-yard pass that carried to the 11. Starks carried on the next two plays of about equal distance for the touchdown, making the score 30-16.
Just three minutes later, after the Eagles had sacked Zur on a fourth down and five situation, Busby scored his second touchdown on a three-yard burst on the first play after Holst had connected with Hayes on their 40-yard strike
Mines wrapped up the scoring with an 84-yard drive that saw Zur hit Eastman on a 19-yard scoring toss with 4:28 remaining. The Hardrockers attempted an onside kick, but Thurness, a native of Rapid City, claimed the pigskin to secure the victory.
Difficulty with statistical equipment made the offensive numbers for the game incomplete, but linebacker Jeremiah Makahunuiu led the Eagles with nine tackles while Noah Kerchal had eight and Jeremiah Gutierrezseven. Cornerback Bobby Peele intercepted his third pass in three games for the Eagles to stop a Mines drive in the second quarter.
Now 2-1 during the abbreviated season, the Eagles will renew another long-time rivalry next Saturday by playing a Nebraska-Kearney. The Lopers played their first game this fall on Saturday and defeated Pittsburg State of Kansas 31-26.