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Zach Pekale | | October 17, 2020

Holst's experience shines through in RMAC quarterback battle

Chadron State Athletics Chadron State quarterback Dalton Holst throws a pass. Chadron State's Dalton Holst threw for more than 300 yards in a win over South Dakota School of Mines.

Saturday's contest between Chadron State and South Dakota School of Mines was the latest chapter of a history spanning more than a century. The Eagles strengthened their grip on the all-time series record with a 41-25 win over the Hardrockers as CSC quarterback Dalton Holst's experience was the difference in a highly anticipated matchup with RMAC newcomer Jayden Johannsen.

The tale of the tape was the old guard versus the new in Chadron, Nebraska. Holst, a four-year starter, commands the spotlight in the RMAC after leading the conference in passing touchdowns and yards a year ago. He also picked up a nomination for the Harlon Hill Trophy along the way.

Johannsen came to South Dakota Mines by way of FCS powerhouse North Dakota State — a program that seems to know a thing or two about the quarterback position. He was the scout team signal-caller for the Bison during their championship run in 2019. But earning the starting job at Mines was about more than ending up on top of a depth chart. In the past few years, Johannsen has overcome a ruptured appendix in addition to being diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

Here's how the two stacked up against each other on Saturday:

Dalton Holst   Jayden Johannsen
19-for-27 Comp/Att. 17-for-30
361 Passing yards 246
7 Rushing yards 109
2 Touchdowns 2 (1 rushing)
1 Turnovers 2

The head-to-head edge goes to Holst, who bounced back after Chadron State struggled to move the ball in a season-opening loss to Colorado Mesa. A week ago, the Eagles finished with 7 points and 266 total yards, a far cry from their 2019 averages as one of the stronger offensive units in the RMAC.

By halftime of this week, Holst had over 200 passing yards and his touchdown pass in the final minute of the second quarter extended the CSC lead to 21-0. The Eagles' veteran signal-caller appeared more composed and showed an improved rapport with wide receivers Chad Mikelson and Cole Thurness. Both players went for over 150 yards receiving and a touchdown while Holst finished with 361 passing yards and two scores.

Saturday was the ninth time Holst ended up with at least 300 passing yards in a game and the 23rd multi-touchdown game of his career.

Holst's improvements in the passing game also had a positive affect on the Eagles' rushing attack. UCLA transfer Jalen Starks had a big day on the ground, eclipsing 100 yards for the first time with Chadron State as he finished with 116 yards and three touchdowns. As a team, CSC gashed the Hardrockers for 238 rushing yards. 

Johannsen won his first career start in the 135th Black Hills Brawl a week ago. Against Chadron State, he showed glimpses of his potential as a dual-threat quarterback. His running abilities were on full display as he led South Dakota Mines with 109 rushing yards and a score on the ground. But he also didn't look entirely comfortable until the second half. By that point, the Hardrockers trailed 21-3.

Credit the freshman for shaking off a pair of second quarter interceptions to go 6-of-10 passing for 166 yards with a touchdown in the second half. A full game of that poise and confidence will be an exciting time for Hardrockers fans and the DII football community. 

Holst may have won the first battle, but Johannsen will have a chance to return the favor when the Eagles come to Rapid City on Saturday, Oct. 31.

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