Chadron State couldn’t catch many breaks during its four-game losing streak.
The Eagles had a knack for winning nail-biters last season, staging fourth-quarter comebacks four times while finishing 7-3. But this fall, they twice allowed the deciding touchdown in the final three minutes and started 1-4.
Then 1-5 was looming two weeks ago, when Chadron trailed Adams State 16-0 in the second quarter. But that’s when fortunes shifted.
Quarterback Dalton Holst threw four touchdown passes in the final nine minutes of the first half, turning a 16-point deficit into a 12-point lead. The Eagles won 42-23, then last week they built a 27-point first-half lead for another win.
“The first half of the season was tough,” Chadron coach Jay Long said. “But the kids kept believing and they bought into what we’re doing.”
A high-scoring offense makes the Eagles a dangerous opponent. They average 35.1 points and 470.9 yards per game, which is best in the RMAC.
Elijah Myles and Stevann Brown each have more than 400 yards rushing — Myles ran for a career-high 173 last week. But it’s through the air where Chadron is most potent.
Holst is fifth in Division II in passing touchdowns this season (20) and sixth in passing yards (2,079). A three-year starter, the junior eclipsed the 7,000-yard career mark last week. With four games left in the regular season, Holst is on pace to set single-season school records for passing yards (2,891) and passing touchdowns (30).
“The offense has gotten better each week. Dalton is a big part of it,” Long said. “He’s a terrific football player.”
Chadron looks to extend its winning streak Saturday against 6-1 Dixie State, which has won a program-record six in a row. Dixie State announced that it’s transitioning to NCAA Division I at the end of this school year.
A year ago, the Eagles edged Dixie 30-18 in a game that featured 1,100 yards of offense.
“We’re excited to play Dixie. It’s a good place to play,” Long said.
Other games this week
Culver-Stockton (2-5) at Peru State (0-7), 11 a.m.: As Peru seeks its first win, Culver-Stockton has dropped four in a row. Tajh Eaddy leads the Bobcats with 371 yards rushing.
Midland (3-4) at Jamestown (1-7), 1 p.m.: QB Noah Oswald has accounted for 13 TDs the past two weeks as Midland goes for its third straight win. Bellevue East grad Maximus Wold rushed for 163 yards last week.
Concordia (3-4) at Dordt (4-3), 1 p.m.: All four of Concordia’s losses have been by a touchdown or less — it pushed No. 5 Northwestern last week in a 20-14 loss. Dordt is coming off a 61-0 win over Doane as it rolled up 420 yards rushing.
Doane (4-4) at Northwestern (6-0), 1 p.m.: Doane tries to bounce back after its three-game winning streak was snapped last week. The Red Raiders, who beat Doane 28-25 a year ago, average 37.5 points a game.
Hastings (2-4) at Briar Cliff (4-3), 1 p.m.: Both teams are coming off byes. Hastings looks to snap a four-game skid while Briar Cliff, which allowed 9.5 points through its first six games, gave up 49 to Morningside in its last game.
Morningside (6-0) at Dakota Wesleyan (1-7), 1 p.m.: Morningside has won its first six games by an average of 49 points. Omaha Burke grad Arnijae Ponder leads the GPAC in rushing (140.8 per game) and has run for at least 100 yards in 10 straight games.
Nebraska Wesleyan (3-3) at Central (5-1), 1 p.m.: Wesleyan looks to snap a three-game skid against a Central team that leads the American Rivers Conference in total offense (457.2 yards per game). Wesleyan’s Jonathan Curti leads the ARC in passing at 300.3 per game.
UNK (5-2) at Fort Hays State (5-2), 2 p.m.: UNK looks to follow up last week’s 24-17 upset of Northwest Missouri State. Hays is the two-time defending MIAA champ.
Wayne State (2-5) at Mary (1-6), 2 p.m.: Wayne tries to shake off last week’s double-overtime loss to Northern State. Nicholas Joynt recorded 20 tackles, including 15 solos, while freshman QB Andy McCance threw for 132 yards in his return from a broken hand.
Lincoln (1-6) at Northwest Missouri (6-1), 2 p.m.: Should be a good bounce-back opponent for the Bearcats, who dropped nine spots in the Division II poll to 16th after a loss to UNK. Lincoln has been outscored by an average of 44-13.
The Nebraska 100: Our greatest athletes
The Nebraska 100, originally selected in 2005 and then updated and re-ranked in 2015, came from a pool of nearly 500 names from the ranks of high school, college, amateur and professional sports from the past 140 years. Assistance came from a panel of veteran sports observers from across the state, with the newspaper's sports staff determining the final rankings.