Defense tallied five sacks in victory
NEVADA – The first step in proving last year wasn’t a fluke was successful for the Nevada football program Friday when the Cubs hosted South Tama for their season opener at Cub Stadium.
Behind a dominant defensive effort and three big runs on offense, the Cubs knocked off the Trojans by a 24-14 score.
Nevada held South Tama scoreless for the first three quarters, building a 17-0 lead. That helped the Cubs easily withstand a couple late breakdowns on defense to get their quest at a repeat trip to the playoffs off to a great start.
"We’ve heard a lot of negative comments since we lost a lot of seniors from last year, but we had a lot of kids step up and make good plays, work as a team and win this game," Nevada tailback Chase Dobson said.
Coming off a 1,000-yard season last year as a sophomore, Dobson ripped off 181 yards on just 12 carries Friday. He set up Nevada’s first touchdown with a 56-yard run late in the first quarter and he had a 75-yard jolt lead to the Cubs’ second score in the third quarter.
"I’ve got to give it to the linemen," Dobson said. "They make the holes and all I have to do is get back the secondary."
Both touchdowns Dobson set up were accounted for by first-year starting quarterback Brandon Burke.
Burke hooked up with tight end Joel Olson on an 11-yard touchdown pass over the middle with two minutes, 42 seconds to go in the first quarter to give Nevada a 7-0 lead.
"It felt awesome," Burke said. "Right when I threw it I was like ‘come on touchdown!"’
With three minutes left in the third quarter, Burke powered the ball in from one yard out to put the Cubs up 14-0.
Special teams helped Nevada take firm control of the game. In the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Erik Fevold stepped up and drilled an impressive 45-yard field goal in the first attempt of his career to give his team a three-score lead.
The Cub defense, meanwhile, had been ferocious up to that point. South Tama only put together one quality drive over the first three quarters.
Early in the second quarter, South Tama drove down to the Cub 12-yard line. But linebacker Patrick Stephenson sacked Trojan quarterback Dalton Doyle and forced a fumble that was recovered by Nevada’s Riley Huhn to thwart the drive.
"We worked through a lot of adversity," Stephenson said. "Early in the game we weren’t running some of our blitzes and our stunts right. We got pretty lucky to be honest, because there were a couple times we should’ve been in man and we were in zone, and we were fortunate they didn’t capitalize on that. But at halftime we talked about it, got it straightened out and the second half I thought was a lot better."
South Tama’s first touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter when Nevada had taken its foot off the gas pedal a little bit. Bo Blocker ran one in from three yards out to cap an 80-yard Trojan drive that featured two fourth-down conversions.
Nevada answered right back as Riley Huhn followed up a 28-yard run with an 8-yard touchdown run with 3:07 left. The game’s final score came in garbage time as South Tama’s Zach Morris caught a 52-yard touchdown pass off a Cub breakdown in the secondary with 51 seconds left.
"They got us last year and we got them this year," Nevada head coach John Pelzer. "We got a lot of kids in because it was hot. I was happy with second stringers we had to call on to step it up and get in there and give some guys some breathers. I’m pretty happy with everyone really."
Burke was 2-for-2 passing for 27 yards, Huhn finished with 45 yards rushing on just three carries and Dayne Sly ran for 28 yards on five totes with the football to complement Dobson for Nevada on offense.
Stephenson led the Cubs defensively with 11 tackles and one sack and forced fumble apiece. Huhn had six tackles and a fumble recovery, T.J. Fey finished with four stops and an interception, Alex Merfeld delivered two sacks and Emir Murphy and Kyle Chaska each added one sack apiece.
Next up for Nevada will be another shot at revenge. The Cubs face a Bondurant-Farrar team that won a 48-42 slugfest over them a year ago.
"Each match-up is different and I remember we had a hard time matching up with Bondurant last year just because of the things they do," Pelzer said. "We’ll have our work cut out for us as coaches getting a game plan put together. But we’re excited."
The Cub-Bluejay game will take place at 7:30 p.m. next Friday in Bondurant.
Nevada 24, South Tama 14
ST 0 0 0 14 – 14
N 7 0 7 10 – 24
N – Joel Olson 11 pass from Brandon Burke (Erik Fevold kick), 2:42
N – Burke 1 run (Fevold kick), 3:00
N –Fevold 45 FG, 11:17
ST – Bo Blocker 3 run (Adrian Castanon kick), 7:03
N – Riley Huhn 8 run (Fevold kick), 3:07
ST – Zach Morris 52 pass from Dalton Doyle (Castanon kick), 0:51
Team statistics ST N
First downs 16 9
Rushes-yards 34-67 33-252
Passing 16-24-1 2-2-0
Passing yards 214 27
Total yards 281 279
Fumbles-lost 3-1 3-0
Punts-average 2-35.5 3-42.6
Penalties-yards 4-30 5-45
Individual statistics – Nevada
Rushing: Chase Dobson 12-181, Riley Huhn 3-45, Dayne Sly 5-28, Pat Stephenson 5-12, Brandon Burke 8-(-13).
Passing: Burke 2-2-0-27.
Receiving: Dobson 1-16, Joel Olson 1-11.
Tackles: Stephenson 11, Huhn 6, Traye Pelzer 6, Chase Dobson 4, T.J. Fey 4, Alex Merfeld 4.
Sacks: Merfeld 2, Stephenson, Kyle Chaska, Emir Murphy.
Fumble recoveries: Huhn.