Chadron State dominated most of the first half against Angelo State on Saturday afternoon at Elliott Field, building a 24-0 lead before the Rams scored with 51 second remaining before halftime. But the visitors from Texas ruled the second half and squeezed past the Eagles 28-24 in the non-conference clash played in 90-degree temperatures.
The Eagles had a chance to win in the closing minutes, but stalled at the goal line.
The Eagles were led by their special teams, which blocked four (three officially because of a penalty) Angelo State field goal tries and two punts. However, the Rams rolled up 469 total net yards, including 249 in the second half, and limited the Eagles to just 230 total yards, only 38 of them in the second half.
Angelo State, ranked No. 22 in NCAA II entering the game, opened with a 70-yard drive before being forced to try a 25-yard field goal that was blocked by CSC freshman Josh Zink and returned 27 yards by Jeremiah Gutierrez.
The Eagles promptly drove 68 yards that included a 16-yard pass from quarterback Dalton Holst to inside wide receiver Chad Mikelson and two 13-yard tosses to Cole Thurness. Tailback Elijah Myles ran the final three yards and the Eagles’ impressive new kicker, Gunnar Jones, added the point after.
Chadron State moved on top 14-0 on its next possession with Holst running 19 yards before connecting with Jahani Wright for 11 yards and with Mikelson, who broke a tackle before blasting his way into the end zone to complete the eight-yard play.
Another Angelo State field goal attempt that was blocked by senior lineman Brendan Hopkins, put the Eagles in business again midway in the second quarter. This time on third down and two, CSC gambled and Holst connected with a wide open Montel Gladney on a 72-yard scoring pass.
Moments later the hosts created another break. They recovered a fumble by Angelo State quarterback Zach Bronkhorst and converted it into a 45-yard field goal by Gunner Jones to go ahead 24-0.
But as the first half was ending, the Texas team went 75 yards in just two minutes to gain some momentum going into halftime. Bronkhorst completed a 33-yard pass to running back CJ Odom, then ran for 12 yards before scoring on a one-yard sneak for Angelo State’s first points.
The Eagles continued their almost unprecedented lights out special teams play early in the second half when linebacker Jeremiah Makahununiu blocked a Angelo State punt and Noah Kerchal blunted another field goal try. But they couldn’t convert either of them into points.
The Rams soon got a break when Holst, while going for a first down, lost that ball at midfield. The Texans’ Leddy French recovered it and raced 38 yards to the Eagles’ 13. Bronkhorst scored three plays later on a six-yard run.
With just a minute left in the third quarter, Bronkhorst also connected with wiry receiver Kellen Pachot (5-11, 155 pounds) on a 53-yard pass play for a touchdown. Then, three minutes into the fourth period the pair hooked up again on a 43-yard scoring toss that put the Rams ahead 28-24.
On both occasions, play action by the Rams apparently crossed up the Eagles. Pachot was all by himself when he caught the passes, just as Gladney had been when he was wide when he grabbed the ball for a 76-yard TD in the first half.
Meanwhile, the Eagles had not managed a first down in the half, but the hard-charging special teams plays gave them another chance when safety Brendan Brehmer blocked a Rams’ punt midway in the fourth stanza.
Chadron State was stifled again, this time inside the red zone, but in the final three minutes knocked on the door again after Mikelson returned a punt 18 yards to the Angelo State 37.
After a 6-yard pass from Holst to Cole Thurness and runs of seven and six yards by Chris Busby finally netted first downs, a pass interference call against the Rams gave CSC a first and goal at the Angelo State two.
However, the Eagles lost four yards on a running play against the rugged Angelo State defense, and two passes fell incomplete before the Rams sacked Holst on fourth down to blunt the opportunity and end the game.
CSC Coach Jay Long said he naturally was delighted with the special teams’ spectacular play, but added something must be done to get the Eagles into the end zone late in the game. They also stalled on in a similar situation the previous week at Western Colorado.
As far as is known, the Eagles have never blocked so many kicks in one game. The previous high is believed to be three blocked punts in a six-minute span during a 40-6 win over Westmar College of Iowa in 1989.
Bronkhorst completed 17 of 33 passes for 230 yards and ran 15 times for 67 yards. Nat Omayebu led the Rams in rushing with 13 carries for 94 yard and Pachot caught four passes for 101. Holst clicked on 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards, but no one rushed for more than 29 yards for the Eagles. Thurness caught six passes for 37 yards.
The Chadron State football team will be back home to meet long-time archrival South Dakota Mines this Saturday with kickoff set for 6:30.
The Eagles have won each of the last 14 clashes dating back to 1988 and all six since the rivalry was renewed in 2016 when the Hardrockers joined the RMAC. Most of the recent games have been high-scoring, knock-down dragout affairs. Three have been decided by five or fewer points.
Mines has opened this season by downing Missouri S&T 34-31 and Mayville State of North Dakota 52-7. The Eagles are 0-2. The winner receives the Eagle-Rock Trophy.
; ASU; CSC
First Downs; 23; 12
Total Net Yards; 469; 230
Rushes, Yards; 48-239; 33-71
Passing Yards; 230; 159
Passing; 17-33-0; 16-29-0
Return Yards; 31; 89
Punts, Average; 5-26.0; 5-51.2
Fumbles, Los;t 1-1; 2-1
Penalties, Yards; 10-105; 6-65
Angelo State 0 7 14 7 ---28
Chadron State 14 14 0 0 ---24
CSC—Elijah Myles 3 run (Gunner Jones kick)
CSC—Chad Mikelson 8 pass from Dalton Holst (Jones kick)
CSC—Montel Gladney 72 pass from Dalton Holst (Jones kick)
CSC—Jones 45 field goal.
ASU—Zack Bronkhorst 1 run (Asa Fuller kick)
ASU—Bronkhorst 6 run (Fuller kick)
ASU—Kellen Pachot 53 pass from Bronkhorst (Fuller kick)
ASU--Pachot 43 pass from Bronkorst (Fuller kick)
Rushing: ASU--Nat Omayebu 18-94, CJ Odom 13-70, Zach Bronkhorst 15-67, Kellen Pachot 1-10, team 1-minus 2. CSC—Elijah Myles 17-29, Jeydon Cox 8-22, Chris Busby 4-13, Dalton Holst 4-7.
Passing: ASU--Zach Bronkhorst 17-33-0, 230 yards, 2 TDs. CSC—Dalton Holst 16-20-0, 159 yards, 2 TDs.
Receiving: ASU—Kellen Pachot 4-101, CJ Odom 3-38, Zorhan Rideaux 3-29, Rasheen Green 2-26, Austin Landry 2-22, Dagen Dunham 2-13, Nat Omayebu 1-1. CSC—Cole Thurness 6-37, Jahani Wright 3-16, Chad Michelson 2-24, Montel Gladney 1-72, Peter Krohn 1-6, Ali Musa 2-4, Chris Busby 1-0.
Kickoff Returns: ASU—Andy Pitts 1-20, Zorhan Rideaux 1-11. CSC—Cole Thurness 2-42. Punt Returns: CSC—Chad Mikelson 1-18, Cole Thurness 1-12 Brendan Brehmer 1-11, Xavier Harrell 1-6.
Tackles: ASU—Daron Allman 6-1, 7; Kyle 4-2, 6; Josh Quinton 1-5, 6. CSC—Jeremiah Makahununiu 8-8, 16; Brendan Brehmer 5-5, 10; Noah Kerchal 6-1,7; Jeremiah Guterriez 3-3, Travis Wilson 3-3.