COLO — Colo-NESCO had its chances against Twin Cedars in its 8-man District 5 opener, but too many mistakes did the Royals in Friday as they suffered a 28-20 loss at Colo.


Colo-NESCO fell to 0-4 overall after giving up an interception near the goal line on a potential scoring drive just before the end of the first half, and later coughing up an untimely fumble in the fourth quarter. The Royals were also hit with several penalties that proved costly in the long run.


“We need to just keep cleaning stuff up,” Colo-NESCO head football coach Josh Nessa said. “Balls on the ground too many times — too many turnovers and I think we had more turnovers this game than any game we’ve had.”


Even with the the miscues, the Royals still had a shot late.


Twin Cedars took a 28-14 lead into the fourth quarter after the score was tied, 14-14, at halftime. Daniel Beary found Kade Dunkin on a 31-yard touchdown pass and Tytus Hunt ran one in from a yard out for the Sabers in the third.


But Colo-NESCO stayed alive when Kelly Gray found the end zone from seven yards out to cap a 57-yard scoring drive with nine minutes, two seconds left in the fourth. A huge 15-yard scramble from quarterback Brandon Roberts on 3rd-and-13 was the pivotal play for Colo-NESCO in the scoring drive.


The Royals forced Twin Cedars to punt on its next possession, then drove down to the 14 before being tagged for a false start.


Colo-NESCO then fumbled the ball away on its next play, but the defense quickly made up for it as Twin Cedars immediately put the ball on the turf and Jake Perry recovered for Colo-NESCO. That gave the Royals great field position on the Saber 25 with 4:57 to go.


Two negative running plays put Colo-NESCO in a bad spot. The Royals were forced to go for it on 4th-and-15 and were tackled for a loss on the play.


Hunt picked up a big 14-yard run to give Twin Cedars an extra set of downs on its next possession and the Sabers were just able to run out the clock to improve their record to 2-2.


“One thing our kids have never done, they’ve never given up even when the score was lopsided,” Nessa said. “They had a lot of heart. The skill will continue to develop.”


Gray had a big outing in his first night back after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. He accounted for all three Royal touchdowns, rushing for 109 yards and two scores on 19 carries and hauling in a 52-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.


“It’s good having him back,” Nessa said. “That’s something we were missing. He’s got good senior leadership — a very positive kid — and obviously he’s a playmaker.”


Gray also came up with two interceptions and five tackles on defense. Roberts added 10 tackles, Francis Bower 7.5 stops and a fumble recovery, Parker Ryan 3.5 stops and half a sack and Jake Perry three tackles, half a sack and a fumble recovery.


On offense, Roberts completed 6 of 13 passes for 83 yards and ran for 39 yards. Bower added 31 yards receiving and 24 rushing.


Hunt ran for 171 yards on 19 carries and had four catches for 78 and Beary put up 163 through the air for Twin Cedars. Marshall Maple made 9.5 tackles, Brock DenBurger had nine stops, Dunkin 6.5 tackles and an interception and Austin Test a sack and a fumble recovery for the Sabers.


Next up for Colo-NESCO is a district road game versus AGWSR. The game will start at 7 p.m. next Friday in Ackley.


Twin Cedars 28, Colo-NESCO 20


TC 14 0 14 0 - 28


CN 14 0 0 6 - 20


Scoring


First quarter


CN - Kelly Gray 52 pass from Brandon Roberts (run failed), 9:02.


TC - Marshall Maple 8 pass from Daniel Beary (Kade Dunkin pass from Beary), 4:43.


CN - Gray 2 run (Bower run), 1:42.


TC - Tytus Hunt 53 run (run failed), 1:20.


Third quarter


TC - Dunkin 31 pass from Beary (Hunt run), 7:01.


TC - Hunt 1 run (pass failed), 2:16.


Fourth quarter


CN - Gray 7 run (pass failed), 9:27.


Team statistics TC C-N


Rushes-yards 25-180 43-172


Passing 13-17-2 6-13-1


Passing yards 163 83


Total yards 343 255


Fumbles lost 2 1


Punts-average 2-29.5 5-23.0


Individual statistics


Rushing: TC - Tytus Hunt 19-171, Kade Dunkin 1-11, Marshall Maple 4-8, Daniel Beary 1-(-10). CN - Kelly Gray 19-109, Brandon Roberts 12-39, Francis Bower 12-24.


Passing: TC - Daniel Beary 13-17-2-163. CN - Roberts 6-13-1-83.


Receiving: TC - Hunt 4-78, Kade Dunkin 2-37, Brock DenBurger 3-30, Hunt, Marshall Maple 4-18. CN - Gray 1-52, Bower 5-31.


Tackles: TC - Maple 9.5, DenBurger 9, Coty Goemaat 8.5, Hunt 8, Dunkin 6.5, Trenton Reed 5.5. CN - Roberts 10, Bower 7.5, Gray 5, Andrew Grover 3.5, Martin Nicholas 3.5, Parker Ryan 3.5, Jake Perry 3.


Sacks: TC - Maple 1, Reed 1, Austin Test 1. CN - Perry 0.5, Ryan 0.5.


Fumble recoveries: TC - Test. CN - Bower, Perry.


Interceptions: TC - Dunkin. CN - Gray 2.