CHADRON - A big second half vaulted the Chadron State College football team to a 30-14 victory over the University of Mary on Saturday afternoon during the season opener for both teams.
The score was knotted at 7-7 at halftime after both teams scored touchdowns following turnovers and missed a field goal.
But the Eagles added two touchdowns in the third quarter and tacked on three field goals by Travis Atter in the fourth quarter. The Marauders scored their second touchdown with 5:26 to play when Josh Winfield returned an interception 59 yards.
Chadron State outgained the North Dakota team by a 344 to 151-yard margin and had the ball 43 minutes compared to just 17 for Mary.
“It was good to win the first game,” said Chadron State head coach Bill O’Boyle. “We finally got going (on offense). We didn’t finish several good drives because of one guy or another making a mistake. It’s something I think we can fix. It was a good thing we were in shape because the offense was on the field a lot and didn’t seem to get gassed.”
Chadron State got the first break and scored in short order. Late in the first quarter, the Mary punt returner dropped a long punt and Chadron State’s Maurice Threatts claimed the ball at the Marauders’ four. After the Eagles lost a yard on two rushing plays, quarterback Garrett Treffer connected with wide receiver Brandon Harrington, who made a leaping catch, in the end zone. Atter added the extra point.
Mary knotted the score midway in the second period when tight end Micah Costello ran 16 yards with a pass from quarterback Henry Lau and Rett Thibodeaux tacked on the extra point. The touchdown came three plays after the Marauders’ Phil Thomas made a diving interception of a Chadron State pass after it had been tipped at least once by players on both teams.
Both kickers missed 44-yard field goals in the opening half, but Chadron State dominated the second half.
The Eagles scored just with just 1:37 gone of the clock in the third period. Harrington returned the second half kickoff 56 yards in front of the Chadron State bench to the Mary 24. The Marauders were called for a block below the waist at the end of the play, giving CSC possession at the 12. After two carries by Threatts that moved the ball to the six, Treffer connected with inside receiver Isaac Stockton with a pass over the middle in the end zone.
Chadron State also scored on its next possession when Treffer hit Harrington about 15 yards down field. Harrington broke a tackle and raced untouched to the goal line to complete a 60-yard play.
Atter, who kicked the extra points following both third period touchdowns, missed on a 25-yard field goal as the fourth quarter was beginning, but he made up for it on later in the period by booting field goals of 48, 23 and 30 yards. The first of the field goals was the longest of the Buffalo, Wyo., senior’s career and the 10th longest in Chadron State history. He has now booted 42 field goals during his career, seven short of Jay Masek’s school record.
An unusual play allowed Mary to score its second touchdown with 5:30 left on the clock. Treffer was back to pass when he was hit chest high by a Marauder who was blitzing from the outside. The ball popped into the air. Mary’s Winfield grabbed it and jogged 59 yards to the end zone.
Treffer, who was making his first start in a regular season game, completed 21 of 31 passes for 206 yards and the three touchdowns. Harrington was the game’s top receiver with eight receptions for 98 yards and the two TDs. Threatts led all rushers with 16 carries for 66 yards and had a 50-yard run in the second period wiped out by holding.
Lau, who was under heavy pressure from the CSC defense all day, completed eight of 31 passes for 90 yards and was just one of 11 for through the air in the second half. One of his fourth quarter passes was intercepted by freshman Phil Rivera, who made a diving catch that set up Atter’s second field goal.
Mary gained just 61 yards on 19 rushing plays with tailback Jamal Lomax carrying nine times for 27 yards to set the pace.
Curtis Darrah led Mary’s receiving corps with three catches for 56 yards.
Both teams had outstanding punting. Thibodeaux averaged 40.6 yards on nine punts and Chadron State’s Kevin Berg averaged 40.8 on four.
Berg, who is an alternate safety, also was CSC’s leading tackler with five. Linebacker Caleb Thompson paced the Marauders with 10, nine of them solos.