NEVADA - Nevada showed tremendous grit in the face of adversity against a powerful West Marshall team on a rainy evening Friday at Cub Stadium.
The Cubs played tough defensively for long stretches, but they couldn’t overcome costly injuries and the quick feet of Trojan quarterback Cameron Bannister in a 35-3 loss.
The Cubs entered the game already missing starting tailback Jakob Strottman on offense and they lost quarterback Kody Kruschwitz to a back injury early in the second quarter. Nevada also went without their No. 2 running back — Caden Jones — for a stretch, and had several other players banged up throughout the game.
“I’m really proud of how our kids fought, especially in the second half,” Nevada head football coach Andrew Kleeman said. “We’ve been plagued by injuries, unfortunately, this year. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes and the kids have to just learn from it, pick themselves up each week and fight through it. We had some kids step up tonight that had never played their position before and they fought.”
That made it tough to keep pace with Bannister’s playmaking ability.
Nevada held West Marshall tailback Chase Burr to 68 yards rushing. But Bannister burned the Cubs for 307 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and he also threw for 90 yards and added two interceptions on defense.
“He’s a very good player,” Kleeman said. “He’s improved a lot and is a really tough kid, Definitely a good playmaker.”
Bannister had touchdown runs of 34 and 69 yards to give West Marshall a 14-0 lead three minutes into the second quarter. Nevada came back with its most successful drive of the game, resulting in a 32-yard field goal by Jack Cahill with just over five minutes left in the half.
Bannister struck again with an 18-yard touchdown scamper in the final two minutes. West Marshall shortly followed with the special teams play of the game when Brian Morrison blocked a punt and returned it 33 yards for a score with 40 seconds left in the half.
Nevada stepped up defensively in the second half to limit West Marshall to just one score — a 12-yard Burr touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. But without Kruschwitz, the offense never found its groove.
Senior receiver Brayden Bottorf moved to quarterback when Kruschwitz went down and played admirably. Bottorf completed 9 of 23 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Andrew Saunders had another big night at receiver for Nevada with eight catches for 99 yards. Sam Abraham ran for 48 yards and added 10 yards receiving, Keaton Fry made two catches for 18 yards and Jones finished with 16 yards rushing.
Kruschwitz completed 5 of 12 passes for 48 yards with an interception before he went down. Lucas Rogers had six tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery, Cahill picked up a sack and a fumble recovery and Anthony Ellis made nine tackles for Nevada on defense.
Nevada fell to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in Class 2A District 7. West Marshall improved to 6-1 and 3-0 respectively.
Up next for Nevada is another huge challenge. The Cubs travel to La Porte City to face Union (5-2, 3-0).
“We go into every game expecting to be successful,” Kleeman said. “We’ll do that again next week. We’re going to fight. I know this group wants to finish things right. We’re going to have a great week of practice and do our best.”
The Cubs’ game with the Knights is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
West Marshall 35, Nevada 3
WM 7 21 0 7 - 35
N 0 3 0 0 - 3
WM - Cameron Bannister 34 run (Peyton Pope kick), 2:46.
WM - Bannister 69 run (Pope kick), 9:00.
N - Jack Cahill 32 FG, 5:07.
WM - Bannister 18 run (Pope kick), 1:50.
WM - Brian Morrison 33 blocked punt return (Pope kick), 0:40.
WM - Chase Burr 12 run (Pope kick), 11:41.
Team statistics WM N
First downs 19 13
Rushes-yards 34-382 23-49
Passing 6-11-0 14-35-2
Passing yards 90 135
Total yards 472 184
Fumbles-lost 2-2 0-0
Punts-average 3-34.7 5-43.4
Penalties-yards 6-41 3-24
Rushing: WM - Cameron Bannister 18-307, Chase Burr 12-68, Preston Pope 4-7. N - Sam Abraham 11-48, Caden Jones 8-16, Brayden Bottorf 1-(-5), Kody Kruschwitz 3-(-10).
Passing: WM - Bannister 6-11-0-90. N - Bottorf 9-23-1-87, Kruschwitz 5-12-1-48.
Receiving: WM - Jake Tollefson 4-57, Burr 1-23, Joseph Halverson 1-10. N - Andrew Saunders 8-99, Keaton Fry 2-18, Blake Bottorf 1-11, Abraham 2-10, Jones 1-(-3).
Tackles: WM - Burr 10, David Willis 7, Brayden Evertson 7, Halverson 6.5. N - Anthony Ellis 9, Lucas Rogers 6, Sam Abraham 5, Jack Cahill 4, Mason Hapes 4, Jakob Strottman 4, Ross Uthe 4.
Sacks: WM - Evertson 4, Halverson 1.5, Willis 1, Brain Morrison 0.5. N - Abraham, Cahill, Hapes, Rogers.
Fumble recoveries: N - Cahill, Rogers.
Interceptions: WM - Bannister 2.