NEVADA — Things were looking bleak for Nevada early in the fourth quarter of its Class 3A District 6 football game with Grinnell Friday at Cub Stadium.
The Cubs were trailing the Tigers 9-7 following a Tanner Strand touchdown run with 11 minutes, 23 seconds remaining. Nevada’s offense had been flat all game in the gloomy and wet weather conditions, so it appeared the Cubs were on the ropes.
But Nevada wasn’t about to let its senior night be ruined by the Tigers. Brendan Sellberg followed Grinnell’s score with a long touchdown run and the Cubs recovered two fumbles in the final six minutes to pull off a 23-9 victory and secure just the third winning season for the program since 1992.
“They came out ready to play, but we just stuck to our game plan,” Sellberg. “We just stuck our nose to the grindstone. We’ve got this on the turnaround. We’re going big places, so that was a huge win for us.”
Sellberg turned the tide for Nevada with 5:45 to go in the fourth quarter.
After struggling to move the ball up the middle, Nevada started finding success on runs to the outside during the fourth quarter. Facing second-and-13 on its own 44, Nevada ran a 49-sweep to Sellberg on the left side of the field.
Sellberg got to the outside, found a lane and outran the Tiger defense 56 yards to the end zone to put the Cubs back in front.
“I told my line and Jakob (Strottman) here give me a good block, I’m going to do all I can to bust it,” Sellberg said. “It felt good.”
Grinnell came back ready to try and counter Sellberg’s score, but the Tigers fumbled the ball just 13 seconds after the Cub touchdown. Strottman was there to recover it inside the Tiger 25.
“I just saw the ball drop and I ran and got it,” Strottman said. “It was huge.”
The Cubs had three turnovers to one for Grinnell up to that point.
Strottman’s fumble recovery led to a 24-yard Luke Fevold field goal with 1:40 left in regulation. Grinnell was still within striking distance down a touchdown, but the Cub defense came up clutch again on the next Tigers’ possession.
This time Bronzon Mason recovered a Grinnell fumble forced by Jack Higgins to set up a 9-yard Trent Stahl touchdown run to ice the game with 1:20 remaining.
“It was Jack Higgins — I just followed him in,” Mason said.
The victory put Nevada at 5-2 overall and 3-2 in 3A District 6 with two tough road games remaining with Norwalk and Pella.
“We know Norwalk and Pella are going to be tough,” Sellberg said. “We’ve got Norwalk next week. We’re just going to come out and play like we can. We’re fully confident we can win if we play like we’re capable of.”
The game was also emotional for the seniors that have carried the program a long way since going 2-7 as freshmen in the program’s move back up to 3A from 2A.
“I’m happy that we won,” Mason said, “but sad it’s the last time.”
Sellberg ran for 100 yards on 12 carries and caught two passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Stahl had 31 yards rushing and 49 receiving, Cam Shill threw for 102 yards and a touchdown, Strottman made 9.5 tackles and two fumble recoveries, Mason ended up with seven stops and Higgins 6.5 tackles and a sack for Nevada.
Grinnell fell to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in 3A District 6. Palmer Schulte ran for 117 yards on 36 carries and Nick Popp caught three passes for 61 yards for the Tigers.
Up next for Nevada is Norwalk (5-2, 4-1). The game will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Norwalk.
Nevada 23, Grinnell 9
G 0 3 0 6 - 9
N 7 0 0 16 - 23
N - Brendan Sellberg 29 pass from Cam Shill (Luke Fevold kick), 6:42
G - Wyatt Dillon 27 FG, 1:05.
G - Tanner Strand 2 run (pass failed), 11:23.
N - Sellberg 55 run (pass failed), 5:45.
N - Fevold 24 FG, 1:40.
N - Trent Stahl 9 run (Fevold kick), 1:20.
Team statistics G N
First downs 13 10
Rushes-yards 52-112 31-154
Passing 4-10-0 7-16-1
Passing yards 64 102
Total yards 176 254
Fumbles-lost 3-3 2-2
Penalties-yards 6-42 8-82
Punts-average NA 6-44.8
Rushing: G - Palmer Schulte 36-117, Trenton Miller 3-5, Drew Coffman 6-0, Alex Farmer 1-0, Tanner Strand 5-(-2). N - Brendan Sellberg 12-100, Trent Stahl 9-31, Jakob Strottman 8-21, Om’Unique Wilkerson 1-4, Cam Shill 1-(-2).
Passing: G - Strand 1-1-0-27, Coffman 2-6-0-19. N - Shill 7-16-1-102.
Receiving: G - Nick Popp 3-61, Schulte 1-3. N - Stahl 3-49, Sellberg 2-35, Jack Higgins 1-14, Om’Unique Wilkerson 1-4.
Tackles: N - Jakob Strottman 9.5, Bronzon Mason 7, Stahl 7, Jack West 6.5, Higgins 6.5, Sam Abraham 5.5, Luke Merfeld 5.
Sacks: N - Higgins.
Fumble recoveries: N - Strottman 2, Mason.