The Chadron State College Eagles will confront a high-powered offensive attack Saturday when they host Humboldt State of Arcata, California, in their only non-conference game of the season. Kickoff for the CSC Hall of Fame contest will be at noon.
The Lumberjacks, who finished 8-2 last fall, were scheduled just over a year ago, shortly after Western New Mexico announced it was leaving the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Eagles will repay the visit next fall.
Humboldt State is 2-2 this season. The Jacks opened with a 52-45 win over Carson-Newman while playing in Tennessee. They then lost to Azusa Pacific 38-27 and beat Simon-Fraser of Canada 56-24 before losing 48-42 to Western Oregon last Saturday.
The latter three teams, like Humboldt State, belong to the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and will play the Lumberjacks again this season.
Humboldt features running back Ja’Quan Gardner, who last season led NCAA II in rushing with 2,226 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. Those stats helped him rank No. 2 in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy that annually goes to the outstanding player in NCAA Division II.
Gardner is built quite a bit like CSC’s two-time Harlon Hill Trophy winner, Danny Woodhead. Gardner is 5-foot-7, 205 pounds and only a junior.
So far this year, Gardner has rushed 96 times for 575 yards and 11 touchdowns. His yardage total is eighth in Division II. The leader is Western State’s Austin Ekeler, who has run for 832 yards in four games, including 283 against the Eagles two weeks ago. Humboldt State will host the Mountaineers on November 5 in another non-conference matchup.
Gardner is not the Lumberjacks’ only offensive weapon. Junior quarterback Robert Webber is another standout. Last season Webber completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,239 yards and 22 touchdowns. So far this fall, he’s connected on 101 of 148 tosses (68 percent) for 1,321 yards and 10 TDs. He earned conference Player of the Week honors this week after completing 44 of 64 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns in a home loss to Western Oregon. The 502 yards was a program and GNAC record.
The two-pronged attack will undoubtedly put the lots of pressure on the Chadron State defense, which was minus five starters because of injuries last Saturday against Adams State. CSC defensive coordinator Jeff Larson said he anticipates linebacker Courtland Joshua will take the field Saturday, but the others are day-to-day.
The Lumberjacks will be without two wide receivers who started their season opener. Senior wideout Chase Krivashei, who leads the receiving corps with 23 receptions for 318 yards and three touchdowns, is absent from this week’s depth chart, as is sophomore John Todd, who did not play last week versus Western Oregon.
While the Humboldt offense has been potent this fall, the opponents also have piled up the yards and points. The Jacks are averaging 503.5 yards and 44.2 points, however their foes are averaging 487.5 yards and 38.8 points.
All four of the Jacks’ probable starters in the secondary are freshmen who apparently have beat experienced players for the starting nod. All the Humboldt starters on offense are juniors or seniors.
Chadron State has averaged 351.0 yards and 23.8 points and given up 354.2 yards and 28.0 points per game during its 1-3 season.
Hall of Fame inductees John Chancy, Mandy Kubo Chubb, Deron Dolfi, Jim Fairfield, Ed Hermsen, Jarod Moeller, Kory Richardson, and Don White will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game, and then formally inducted in a ceremony at 6 p.m. in the Student Center.