The Lumberjacks football team looked poised for a big push to the playoffs Saturday night at the Redwood Bowl, dismantling the Chadron State Eagles 56-13.
HSU came out with their chainsaws roaring, when Senior quarterback Robert Webber connected with his No. 1 target, junior wide out John Todd for a beautiful 37-yard catch that set up sophomore running back Jamar Byrd for the first score of the game from the 2-yard line. The team would not look back.
Todd wants the whole team to get credit for the way they’ve started this season but wants them to remain focused on a week-to-week basis.
“We all deserve credit,” Todd said. “We work our butts off. Winning is just like a trophy for that but we’re gonna take it step by step. We got a big game with Central Washington next week.” Todd finished the game with two receptions for 123 yards and a score.
The 1-2 punch of All-American senior tailback, Ja’Quan Gardner and sophomore tailback Jabar Byrd, was on full display. Each back gave the Eagles defense fits, combining for three scores. A big part of the running games success was the performance of the offensive line who were constantly opening holes for the two backs throughout the game.
Gardner is off to his best start statistically since he was runner up for the Harlan Hill trophy in 2015 and while that is in the back of his mind, he’s more worried about helping his team win.
“You wanna try to take it game by game, prepare for each game, give it your best every game,” Gardner said. “That’s not really on my mind but it would be cool to win.”
Gardner lead the team in rushing with 135-yards and a touchdown and Byrd added a career high two scores of his own. Senior quarterback Robert Webber had a near flawless game, throwing for 338-yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
The offense showed up as usual with 525-yards of total offense but the defense stepped up big time, taking the ball away from the Eagles seven times. The Jacks shut out the Eagles in the final 30 minutes and picked off Chadron’s quarterback five times.
Davaeon Johnson had a night to remember with a team high three picks off Eagles QB Dalton Holst. On one play, Johnson picked off Holst and ran the ball back 48-yards for an electrifying Jacks touchdown less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Johnson’s three interceptions tied a Great Northwest Athletic Conference single-game record.
Jacks head coach Rob Smith is proud of his defense for stepping up and taking care of business against a Chadron team that had scored 73 points in the previous game.
“It’s just doing your job,” Smith said. “It’s trusting the guy next to you to do his job. Everybody wants magic answers and there’s no magic to it. Its guys playing hard and guys doing their job.”
The Jacks go into this week ranked No. 17 in the nation and are traveling for a tough conference showdown against the No. 13 ranked Central Washington University Wildcats (5-0) Saturday.
The Wildcats are coming off a 62-0 stomping of Simon Fraser on Saturday in which they held the Simon Fraser offense to just 26-yards on the day. The Jacks defeated Simon Fraser earlier this season 72-14.
The two powerhouse teams should provide some fireworks in this match-up. The game can be seen via live-stream at the Humboldt State athletics website. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at Central Washington’s Tomlinson Stadium.