Story and photo courtesy of Chadron State Athletics
CHADRON, Neb. – Chadron State's Jonn McLain threw three touchdown passes, Glen Clinton rushed for 122 yards, and the Eagles' defense limited Colorado School of Mines, one of the most explosive offenses in Division II, to just 288 yards in a blustery snowstorm to claim a 20-14 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Elliott Field.
Making the Eagles' defensive performance even more impressive is the fact they stopped Colorado School of Mines on its final three drives on fourth down.
The win, which improves Chadron State to 9-2 overall and 8-1 in the RMAC, all but ensures the Eagles will be included the NCAA Division II playoff field that starts next weekend. However, Chadron State won't know its postseason fate until the Super Region rankings are released Sunday at 3 p.m. on ncaa.com.
“I am so proud of this team, especially our seniors,” CSC head coach Jay Long said. “They have been through so much adversity and today's game in the snow just added to that. It wasn't easy playing out there but those men just found a way to win. I couldn't be more proud of them and what they accomplished.”
The Eagles led 20-0 midway through the third quarter but the Orediggers (6-5, 4-5 RMAC) would not go away and put together back-to-back impressive scoring drives.
Colorado Mines scored its first touchdown late in the third quarter when Tevin Champagne, who rushed for 118 yards, scored from three yards out. Champagne's run capped off an 11-play, 90-yard drive heading into the driving snow.
Following a punt from Chadron State, Colorado Mines put together another long drive, going 80 yards in 14 plays early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Matt Brown, who completed 14 of 29 passes for 132 yards, used his feet to score and scampered into the end zone on fourth and nine from the 10-yard line to cut into the Eagles' lead, 20-14.
The Orediggers couldn't muster any offense on their next drive and punted to the Eagles at the 16-yard line, but two plays later Mines recovered a CSC fumble. However, the Eagles' defense stood tall and allowed Brown to complete two short passes before Cole Montgomery batted down his throw on fourth down.
The Eagles then went three and out on their next possession but the defense bailed them out again when Mines took over at its own 46-yard line with 2:19 to play. Following two straight incomplete passes, Shea Koch sacked Brown on third down for a loss of eight yards. On fourth down, Brown lofted a pass to the sideline but Chadron State safety Trelan Taylor intercepted his pass to seal the win.
Colorado Mines entered the game averaging over 470 yards of total offense and three of their wide receivers were combining to average 25 receptions. On Saturday, though, the Eagles' defense allowed just three Oredigger receivers to have a reception.
Champagne led Mines with six receptions for 21 yards and Jerrod Doucet had four for 71. David Pawelek, who was averaging over eight receptions a game, finished with four catches for 40 yards.
McLain, who finished the game completing 13 of 19 passes for 177 yards, completed passes to six different receivers. His TD throws went to Clinton, Nathan Ross and Allan Schmaltz.
Ross led the Eagles with four receptions for 64 yards.
As a team, the Eagles accumulated 311 yards, including 134 on the ground.
Chadron State's Kevin Lindholm had a game-high 13 tackles and now has 111 this season. He's the first Chadron State player to have over 100 tackles since Kevin Homer did in 1998.