CHADRON, Neb. – The Eagles of Chadron State had won 17 of their last 18 Homecoming games coming into Saturday’s game against the visiting Trailblazers of Dixie State. Make that now 17 of 19 as DSU put on a rushing showcase against the home team to get the win, 44-27.
Gaining 74 yards and scoring a touchdown is a good day for any player. That was only the average line of the five players who carried the ball for the ‘Blazers. Between the five, they gained 370 yards and scored five touchdowns. Led by speedy DeJon Coleman (158 yards, TD), DSU got good games from Clifford Sims (93 yards, TD), Orlando Wallace (69 yards, TD), quarterback Josh Thompson (30 yds, two TDs) and Sei-J Lauago (29 yds).
Thompson got his second start of the year. Blake Barney started last Saturday, but injured his knee in last week’s game. On Tuesday the team was informed that he will likely need surgery and may be done for the season.
“Thompson did a great job today,” said McClure. “We ask a lot of him. He made good reads and good decisions. He managed the clock well. We ended up with a 2-1 advantage in time of possession. And we did not turn the ball over.”
Thompson guided the ‘Blazers on their opening possession 90 yards in six minutes for the initial score, a touchdown pass to Wallace from 11 yards out.
On Dixie State’s next scoring drive, beginning at the end of the 1st quarter, Thompson benefited from great field position when Justin Martin returned the Eagle punt 52 yards to the Chadron 25-yard line. Eight plays later, on fourth down, Thompson called his own number and pushed in 3 yards for the score. With the Anthony Reyes PAT, the score was 14-0 with 10 seconds elapsed in the second quarter.
On the Blazers’ next possession, they drove 61 yards in five minutes before stalling. Reyes punched through a field goal from 35 yards to put DSU up 17-0. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the offense took over at its 31-yard line. Three plays later, Simms scored his touchdown on a 43-yard run with 5:27 remaining in the half.
The Blazers would challenge one last time before halftime, driving the ball to the CSC 14-yard line, but time expired before they could get points on the board. For the first time this year DSU, took a double-digit lead into the locker room.
“We were a little worried about how our guys would respond,” said McClure. “The first two defensive stops in the second half showed that our guys would not relax. Getting the turnovers, then converting those turnovers into points by the offense were the key plays of the game.”
The first turnover was an interception by linebacker Peter Brown, who then returned the ball 30 yards to the CSC 5-yard line. Thompson scored his second TD of the day on a 5-yard keeper.
After the DSU kickoff team stopped the Chadron return at the CSC 10-yard line, DSU defensive lineman James Lautogia forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive lineman Darius Williams. The Blazers started their second consecutive drive at the CSC 5-yard line. Wallace got his second touchdown of the day, this time on the ground, to put DSU up 38-0 with 10:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Chadron State would finally get on the board late in the third quarter. After a good punt return gave the Eagles good starting position at the DSU 30, backup quarterback Matt Vinson got 24 yards of it on first down with a pass. Two plays later, Derek Jackson rushed in from 3 yards. The two-point conversion run came up short and going into the fourth quarter the score was 38-6.
In the fourth quarter, McClure was able to get valuable playing time for reserve players.
“We had some miscues in the final period,” said McClure. “But we got valuable experience for some guys who work hard in practice and haven’t seen the field too much.”
The Eagles put up two quick scores in the first part of the fourth quarter to pull within 38-19. They turned over the ball on downs on their own 15-yard line with just over five minutes remaining. Coleman would get his first touchdown of the day three plays later. With four minutes remaining, Dixie State led 44-19. The Eagles scored one more time on their next possession. Their onside kick was recovered by receiver Aubrey Reed with 2:37 remaining. Dixie State drove the ball to the CSC 17-yard line before letting time expire.
In total offense, DSU outgained Chadron State 470-356. Individually for Dixie State, Reed led the team with four receptions and 53 yards. Martin also had four receptions for 20 yards. On defense, Brown led the team with six tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Colton Olson followed with five tackles.
Dixie State evened its overall record to 3-3 and sports a 3-2 conference record. Chadron State falls to 1-4 in the RMAC and to 1-5 overall.
The Trailblazers will travel to Grand Junction, Colo., next week to take on Colorado Mesa. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Stats: DSU 44, CSC 27
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