Courtesy of Chadron State Athletics
CHADRON, Neb. â€“ The Chadron State College football team had just about everything happen during its first game of the 2010 season. Everything, that is, except a punt.
The Eagles cruised to their fifth-straight season-opening win with a 35-3 victory over the University of Mary Saturday at Elliott Field but it wasnâ€™t without drama.
Chadron State lost its starting quarterback â€“ senior Garrett Treffer â€“ near the end of the first half with a hip pointer, but the offense didnâ€™t miss a beat under the direction of redshirt freshman Jonn McLain and the solid leg of redshirt freshman kicker Michael Ziola, who booted four field goals and added three extra points.
The defense, meanwhile, did its part by creating three turnovers that turned into two scoring drives and limited the Mary offense to just 97 total yards.
â€œIâ€™m very happy with the game and to open with a win is always nice,â€ CSC head coach Bill Oâ€™Boyle said. â€œA couple unfortunate things happened but we did a nice job of bouncing back. The young guys played well. We were confident in their abilities before coming into the game and they came through.â€
One of those unfortunate things was a CSC fumble that Mary recovered at the Eaglesâ€™ 40-yard line in the first quarter. After going 15 yards in seven plays, Tyler Ryan capped it off with a 43-yard field goal.
The Eagles responded by driving 66 yards in nine plays the next time they got the ball. Treffer, who completed eight of 12 passes for 121 yards and a TD in the game, hit Nathan Ross for a 40-yard gain to set up Ziola for a 20-yard field goal.
Chadron State took the lead for good when Treffer found Jeremy Sondrup for a nifty 26-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. Treffer didnâ€™t come back into the game following that pass, but Oâ€™Boyle said he should be able to play next week.
Mary threatened later in the first half and moved the ball to the 5-yard line after a CSC penalty with less than 30 seconds to play, but the Eaglesâ€™ defense switched the momentum back to their favor when Phil Rivera picked off a Craig Bagnell pass in the corner of the end zone.
â€œPhilâ€™s interception near the end of the first half might have been the play of the game,â€ Oâ€™Boyle said. â€œThe defense did a great job all day of picking us up and we were able to carry that momentum from the interception into our performance in the second half.â€
The Eagles did much of their damage in the third quarter by scoring 15 points â€“ two field goals, a touchdown and a safety â€“ while hounding the Maraudersâ€™ offense. Mary had negative 11 yards in the quarter and owned the ball for less than five minutes.
Ziola started the scoring spree with a 35-yard field goal that ended an eight-play, 43-yard drive and the Eagles tacked on a safety a few plays later when Kramer Hirz blocked a punt in the end zone. After the free kick, Ziola added another field goal to capitalize on an 11-play drive.
CSC scored its only touchdown of the quarter moments later when Cory Beran forced a fumble that James Belville recovered at the Maraudersâ€™ two. John Ritzen scampered in for the score on the next play to give the Eaglesâ€™ a 25-3 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Ziola booted a 20-yard field goal and Quinell Atkins scored his first career touchdown when he broke free from a Mary tackler and scurried down the south sideline for a 35-yard TD.
Ritzen led CSCâ€™s ball carriers with 74 yards on 16 carries and Jeremy Sondrup was the leading receiver with 67 yards on four receptions. McLain completed seven of 10 passes for 89 yards.
Bagnell, who was making his first start for Mary, completed 12 of 22 passes for 69 yards. The Marauders who were without their top tailback Jamal Lomax due to a hamstring injury, rushed for six yards on 28 carries.
Belville paced the CSC defense with nine tackles.
The Eagles (1-0) will play at Pittsburg State Saturday.
Before the game, CSC Athletic Director Brad Smith and President Janie Park presented the family of Garrett Schlichtemeier a commemorative jersey signed by Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys. Schlichtemeier was a freshman wide receiver from Ogalalla in 2009 who died in an automobile accident during the spring.