LA PORTE CITY - Nevada made Class 2A District 7 leader Union sweat it out as much as possible before coming up just shy of the upset in a 23-20 loss to the Knights Friday at Union.


Nevada led last year’s state semifinalist early in the fourth quarter before giving up back-to-back touchdowns. The Cubs scored a touchdown in the final minute to put one last scare into the Knights in a gutsy effort by a team coming off back-to-back lopsided losses to Benton and West Marshall.


“This game was one of the best games we’ve played in my time coaching here,” Nevada head football coach Andrew Kleeman said. “Unfortunately, we came out on the losing end.”


After three quarters of great defense by both teams, the offenses picked it up down the final stretch.


A 12-yard touchdown pass from Kody Kruschwitz to Andrew Saunders put Nevada in front on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Cubs went for two on the point after and Sam Abraham ran it in to give them a 14-8 lead.


Union answered right back. With 8:02 remaining, Brayden Grosse caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Felderman and followed with a 2-point run to push the Knights in front, 16-14.


On the Cubs’ next drive, they moved the ball all the way down to the Union 23 before Kruschwitz was intercepted by Grosse. Union capitalized on the Nevada mistake by marching 74 yards for the game-clinching score with 1:25 remaining.


Grosse again came through for the Knights with a 20-yard touchdown run and Ben Dvorak added the extra point to put Union up by nine.


But Nevada refused to go away.


With 37 seconds left, Kruschwitz found Abraham on a 49-yard touchdown pass to get the Cubs within three. But the point-after kick was blocked and Union recovered the ensuing kickoff to end the game.


“I’m extremely proud of the effort we gave, especially against a quality team,” Kleeman said. “We are still in the process of building a culture in our program. Friday night proved we have potential to get where want to be.”


Each team only scored one touchdown prior to the fourth quarter.


Kruschwitz found Brayden Bottorf on a 29-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter for Nevada. Gross found pay dirt on a 20-yard run in the second quarter and C.J. Weltzin caught a 2-point pass following the score for Union.


Nevada came up short despite outgaining Union 390 to 287 in total yards.


Kruschwitz broke his own school record for completions in a game, going 31 of 47 for 315 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Saunders caught 14 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown, becoming Nevada’s single-season record holder in receiving yards with 759.


Abraham made seven grabs for 86 yards and Brayden Bottorf had four for 76. Joven Nelson made five catches for 42 yards and Blake Bottorf one for 10.


Abraham also led Nevada in rushing with 69 yards on 13 carries.


On defense, Lucas Rogers made eight tackles and Ayden Rhodes and Jack Cahill seven apiece for the Cubs. Ross Uthe added six, Abraham five plus a tackle for loss and Nelson also came up with five stops.


Grosse ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns, caught the one 22-yard touchdown pass and also completed one pass for 11 yards to lead Union. Kaleb Roach ran for 135 yards, Felderman completed 4 of 7 passes for 40 yards, Levi Gray made seven tackles and three stops behind the line and Carter Asmussen joined Grosse in coming up with an interception for the nights.


Union improved to 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the district. Nevada will take 3-5 overall and 1-3 district marks into its final game of the season Friday at Roland-Story (3-5, 1-3).


The Cubs’ game against the Norsemen will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Story City.


Union 23, Nevada 20


N 6 0 0 14 - 20


U 0 8 0 15 - 23


Scoring


First quarter


N - Brayden Bottorf 29 pass from Kody Kruschwitz (pass failed), 7:32.


Second quarter


U - Brayden Grosse 20 run (C.J. Weltzin pass from Grosse), 4:56.


Fourth quarter


N - Andrew Saunders 12 pass from Kruschwitz (Sam Abraham run), 11:50.


U - Grosse 22 pass from Dylan Felderman (Grosse run), 8:02.


U - Grosse 20 run (Ben Dvorak kick), 1:25.


N - Abraham 49 pass from Kruschwitz (kick blocked), 0:37.


Team statistics N U


First downs 22 18


Rushes-yards 23-75 42-236


Passing 31-47-2 5-8-0


Passing yards 315 51


Total yards 390 287


Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0


Punts-average 2-58.5 5-34.8


Penalties-yards 8-67 6-57


Individual statistics


Rushing: N - Sam Abraham 13-69, Kody Kruschwitz 8-5, Andrew Saunders 2-1. U - Kaleb Roach 29-135, Brayden Grosse 11-107, Dylan Felderman 2-(-6).


Passing: N - Kruschwitz 31-47-2-315. U - Felderman 4-7-0-40, Grosse 1-1-0-11.


Receiving: N - Saunders 14-101, Abraham 7-86, Brayden Bottorf 4-76, Joven Nelson 5-42, Blake Bottorf 1-10. U - Grosse 1-22, Bryce Parker 2-14, Silver Schmitz 1-11, Roach 1-4.


Tackles: Lucas Rogers 8, Jack Cahill 7, Ayden Rhodes 7, Ross Uthe 6, Abraham 5, Nelson 5. U - Levi Gray 7, Bryce Parker 6, Roach 5.5, Carter Asmussen 5.5, Kyle Gross 5.


Sacks: N - Abraham. U - Lane Albertsen.


Interceptions: U - Asmussen, Grosse.