NEVADA - A young Nevada football team delivered a lot of big plays in its season opener against North Polk Friday at Cub Stadium, but the Cubs couldn’t overcome a late Comet surge in a 49-35 loss.
Nevada showed tremendous resilience for a team that lost most of its starters off last year’s 5-4 squad. The Cubs rallied from a 30-14 deficit in the third quarter with three straight touchdowns to take a 35-30 lead.
First-year starting quarterback Kody Kruschwitz threw touchdown passes of 18 and 24 yards to Andrew Saunders and Brayden Bottorf respectively in the third quarter to get his team within 30-28. Kruschwitz then found Jakob Strottman from 12 yards out to put the Cubs in front with six minutes, 28 seconds left.
But a 64-yard Quinten Sommers kickoff return quickly swung the momentum back toward North Polk. Nevada forced a 4th-and-goal at the four, but Comet quarterback Colten Parkins found Jeff Lamp for a touchdown with 3:49 remaining.
Nevada went for it on fourth and long deep in its own territory on its next possession and a deep pass to Saunders was just a tad long. North Polk took advantage as Parkins found Ryan Fausch on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
The Comets iced the game on the next Cub possession when Trevor Mathis returned an interception 25 yards to pay dirt.
“We made a lot of really nice plays, but unfortunately we just had trouble executing at times,” Nevada head football coach Andrew Kleeman said. “That is a sign of a lot of new faces playing. But I’m also really proud of the effort that those kids showed tonight. They gave everything they had.”
Nevada struggled defensively at the line of scrimmage, giving up 293 yards rushing. The Cubs were also hurt by seven penalties and two turnovers.
“We’re going to fix the mental mistakes,” Kleeman said. “That’s part of the experience of the journey and growing game by game. When you haven’t had a lot of varsity snaps, sometimes it can be tough to sustain consistency. They’re going to get there. We have a lot of potential — it’s a much more talented group than I think other people understand and they’re going to do some good things this year.”
Kruschwitz had a great first start, throwing for 224 yards and five touchdowns.
In the first quarter, Kruschwitz found Strottman from 13 yards out on Nevada’s opening drive and connected with Andrew Saunders on a beautiful 69-yard bomb.
Saunders ended up with six catches for 114 yards and two scores and Brayden Bottorf made a 38-yard touchdown grab. Strottman finished with three receptions for 28 yards and two touchdowns and he also did most of the damage on the ground for the Cubs with 104 yards rushing.
Sam Abraham picked up 11 tackles and one interception and Strottman also tallied 11 stops on defense. Ross Uthe and Lucas Rogers each recovered a fumble for the Cubs.
Logan Engebretson ran for 121 yards and one touchdown and Parkins threw for 91 yards and three scores and ran for 86 and one touchdown for North Polk. Sommers had 52 yards and one touchdown on three receptions, Lamp ran for 61 yards and Thomas Jones ran for 25 yards and one score.
Caleb Lomica made eight tackles and Mark Cox tallied 7.5 stops plus a sack for the Comets on defense.
Nevada will face its first road test this Friday at Greene County, a 14-6 winner over Perry in its opener. The game will start at 7:30 p.m. in Jefferson.
North Polk 49, Nevada 35
NP 8 7 15 20 - 49
N 14 0 14 7 - 35
N - Jakob Strottman 13 pass from Kody Kruschwitz (kick blocked), 10:26.
NP - Colten Parkins 2 run (Parkins run), 6:02.
N - Andrew Saunders 69 pass from Kruschwitz (run failed), 2:10.
N - Safety, 1:18.
NP - Logan Engebretson 1 run (Colin Swygman kick), 1:38.
NP - Thomas Jones 5 run (Ryan Fausch pass from Parkins), 7:32.
NP - Quinten Sommers 31 pass from Parkins (Swygman kick), 5:47.
N - Saunders 18 pass from Kruschwitz (Blake Bottorf pass from Sam Abraham), 2:27.
N - Brayden Bottorf 24 pass from Kruschwitz (pass failed), 0:37.
N - Strottman 12 pass from Kruschwitz (Jack Cahill kick), 6:28.
NP - Jeff Lamp 4 pass from Parkins (pass failed), 3:49.
NP - Fausch 8 pass from Parkins (Swygman kick), 0:37.
NP - Trevor Mathis 25 interception return (kick failed), 0:26.
Team statistics NP N
First downs 20 16
Rushes-yards 48-293 33-98
Passing 9-18-1 15-30-1
Passing yards 91 227
Total yards 384 325
Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-1
Punts-average 1-2.0 5-43.4
Penalties-yards 12-78 7-64
Rushing: NP - Logan Engebretson 12-121, Colten Parkins 16-86, Jeff Lamp 11-61, Thomas Jones 9-25. N - Jakob Strottman 25-104, Kody Kruschwitz 6-1, Sam Abraham 1-0.
Passing: NP - Parkins 9-18-1-91. N - Kruschwitz 14-29-1-224, Abraham 1-1-0-3.
Receiving: NP - Quinten Sommers 3-52, Ryan Fausch 2-17, Caleb Lomica 1-16, Engebretson 1-9, Lamp 1-4. N - Andrew Saunders 6-114, Brayden Bottorf 1-38, Strottman 3-28, Abraham 1-26, Blake Bottorf 1-11, Keaton Fry 1-7.
Tackles: NP - Lomica 8, Mark Cox 7.5, Parkins 4.5, Engebretson 3, Lamp 3, Jones 3. N - Abraham 11, Strottman 11, Fry 4, Jay Calentine 4, Ethan Wild 4.
Sacks: NP - Cox.
Fumble recoveries: NP - Fausch. N - Ross Uthe, Lucas Rogers.
Interceptions: NP - Trevor Mathis. N - Abraham.