SPEARFISH — Chadron State used 41 unanswered points in the second half to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, as the Eagles knocked off Black Hills State 48-31 on Saturday in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and season opener for both clubs.

The Yellow Jackets thoroughly outplayed the Eagles over the opening 30 minutes, but Chadron State scored on its first possession to start the second half. Once Elijah Myles put Chadron State on the scoreboard with an 18-yard touchdown run, the Eagles got into a groove Black Hills couldn’t knock them out of the rest of the game.

“We came into the locker room at halftime and said we need to calm down,” Jake Norris, junior offensive guard for the Eagles. “We were beating ourselves. We had some penalties and stuff like that that were putting us in a bad position.

“The second half, we needed to focus on our game, our responsibilities and everything else took care of itself.”

Black Hills State out-gained Chadron State in total yards, 236 to 96 over the first two quarters of the game. The Eagles took four penalties for 38 yards and had their punter slip, resulting in a short field for the Yellow Jackets.

“The first game of the season there’s always those question marks,” Chadron State head coach Jay Long said. “We were in reaction mode instead of attack mode, and we played really sloppy the first half.”

The Yellow Jackets opened THE scoring going into a stiff north wind when Sean Dorney booted a 36-yard field goal. Black Hills made it a 10-0 game when Payten Gilmore scored on a 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter.

The lead grew to 17-0 when first-year starter Andrew Tovar, who was seeing his first on-field action in three seasons, hit Kielar Harpham with a 19-yard TD pass.

“Our offense was in command of everything,” Black Hills State head coach John Reiners said. “Coach (Mitch) Dahlen was calling a great game and our guys were executing it. Andrew was, everyone was.”

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Chadron State’s three-year starter at quarterback, Dalton Holst, calmly drove the Eagles downfield to start the second half. Myles capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive by fighting through two tackles on his way to scoring from 18 yards out.

The Yellow Jackets answered back when Tovar threw his second TD pass of a game, a 5-yarder to Jarett Jenson, to make it 24-7. The Eagles responded by going on another lone drive —75 yards on six plays — to draw within 24-13.

Then the Eagles’ defense stepped up.

Demetrius McFadden intercepted Tovar and Chadron State marched 50 yards with Holst hitting Tevon Wright with a 9-yard TD strike to make it 24-19. After stopping BH near midfield, Holst hit Brandon Fullerton with a 28-yard pass for another touchdown.

Myles, who carried 19 times for 138 yards, scored on runs of 1 and 19 yards, and after Tyler Lewis gathered in the Eagles’ third interception of Tovar, Holst threw his third TD pass of the game, a 28-yarder to Jackson Dickerson, as the Eagles distanced themselves from the Yellow Jackets.

“Chadron’s motto is they’re going to try and punch you in the mouth,” Reiners said. “They didn’t do it the first half, but their deal is they’re going to try and do it the second half. And they did. We didn’t respond as well as we needed to and let them take advantage, and keep getting that momentum.”

Chadron State allowed Black Hills only 28 total yards over the final 30 minutes of the game.

“I was proud of our defense to keep us in the game, only giving up 17 points in the first half,” Long said. “Our guys went out the second half and just executed our game plan.”

Black Hills State takes to the road next week for a conference game Saturday at Colorado Mines. Chadron State  hosts Colorado State University-Pueblo on Saturday in its home opener.

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