PELLA - The size and depth of No. 4 Pella was more than Nevada could handle in its final football game of the season Friday at Pella.
Nevada was outclassed in the first half by the three-time defending Class 3A state champions, falling by a 49-20 score.
“We had difficulty dealing with their size throughout the game,” Nevada head football coach Andrew Kleeman said. “They also have multiple backs that complement their physicality up front well. They are able to give teams a lot of different looks with the variety of athletes they have.”
Pella built a huge 42-6 lead by halftime. The Little Dutch scored three touchdowns in each of the first two quarters.
Avery Van Zee accounted for three of Pella’s touchdowns in the first half. He returned an interception 18 yards for a score to get things rolling and he added touchdown runs from 20 and 35 yards out.
Gabe Thomas added a 30-yard scoring scamper and Reece Schnell and Sam Warner each had short touchdown runs for Pella in the second quarter.
Om’Unique Wilkerson came up with Nevada’s lone bright spot in the first half. Wilkerson hauled in a big 80-yard touchdown reception from Cam Shill with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Warner broke free on a 71-yard run to paydirt early in the third quarter to wrap things up for Pella.
Nevada played extremely tough the rest of the way. Matt Chitty returned a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter and fellow senior Brendan Sellberg ran one in from 14 yards out in the fourth quarter.
“We did some nice things offensively, but struggled with sustaining drives,” Kleeman said. “Our kids gave good effort, but the margin for error against teams like Pella is razor thin. I’m proud of how our kids continued to battle throughout the game.”
With the loss, Nevada finished 5-4 overall and 3-4 in 3A District 6. It marks the first winning season for Nevada since 2012 and its first in 3A since 1992.
“We have seen some tremendous growth in our program this season,” Kleeman said. “We feel we are on the right track. Our seniors have set at an outstanding example for our underclassmen to follow.”
The Cubs totaled 269 yards against Pella.
Shill completed 10 of 18 passes for 171 yards and Wilkerson made three catches for 82. Trent Stahl had six catches for 73 yards plus 20 yards rushing, Jakob Strottman ran for 57 yards, Sellberg added 25 on the ground and Jack Higgins caught one pass for 16 yards.
On defense, Chitty ended up with three tackles to go along with the fumble recovery, Andrew Saunders tallied 5.5 stops and a fumble recovery and Joseph DePenning recovered a fumble. Jack West added seven tackles, Strottman 4.5 tackles and a sack, Preston Cattanach four tackles and Sam Abraham and Bronzon Mason 3.5 stops apiece.
Parker Walden had a successful onside kick that led to Sellberg’s touchdown, Stahl punted four times for an average of 39.8 yards and Luke Fevold made two extra points for Nevada on special teams.
Pella improved to 8-1 overall and finished as the 3A District 6 champions with a perfect 7-0 district record. The Little Dutch totaled 465 yards against Nevada, with 401 of that coming on the ground.
Warner ran for 129 yards, Van Zee had 98 yards rushing and 27 receiving and Thomas picked up 64 yards on the ground. Ryan Gustafson also completed 4 of 8 passes for 64 yards, Aaron Dows made two grabs for 37 yards and Cade Van Vliet ended up with 4.5 tackles and a sack for Pella.
Pella 49, Nevada 20
N 6 0 7 7 - 20
P 21 21 7 0 - 49
P - Avery Van Zee 18 interception return (Kaden Miedema kick), 10:47.
P Van Zee 20 run (Miedema kick), 6:07.
N - Om’Unique Wilkerson 80 pass from Cam Shill (kick failed), 5:00.
P - Van Zee 35 run (Miedema kick), 3:39.
P - Reece Schnell 4 run (Miedema kick), 10:12.
P - Sam Warner 1 run (Miedema kick), 8:39.
P - Gabe Thomas 30 run (Miedema kick), 5:10.
P - Warner 71 run (Miedema kick), 10:58.
N - Matt Chitty 1 fumble return (Luke Fevold kick), 2:52.
N - Brendan Sellberg 14 run (Fevold kick), 10:01.
Team statistics N P
First downs 11 21
Rushes-yards 30-98 39-401
Passing 10-19-3 4-9-0
Passing yards 171 64
Total yards 269 465
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-3
Punts-average 4-39.8 2-31.0
Penalties-yards 5-45 5-31
Rushing: N - Jakob Strottman 16-57, Brendan Sellberg 6-25, Trent Stahl 4-20, Cam Shill 4-(-4). P - Sam Warner 7-129, Avery Van Zee 5-98, Gabe Thomas 3-64, River Baker 7-49, Reece Schnell 6-42, Aaron Born 6-26, Dalton Chapman 2-4, Matthew Widmar 1-(-2), Logan Shetterly 2-(-9).
Passing: N - Shill 10-18-3-171, Kody Kruschwitz 0-1-0-0. P - Ryan Gustafson 4-8-0-64, Van Zee 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: Om’Unique Wilkerson 3-82, Stahl 6-73, Jack Higgins 1-16. P - Aaron Downs 2-37, Van Zee 2-27.
Tackles: N - Jack West 7, Andrew Saunders 5.5, Strottman 4.5, Preston Cattanach 4, Sam Abraham 3.5, Bronzon Mason 3.5. P - Brendan Davidson 4.5, Cade Van Vliet 4.5, Thomas 3.5, Lucas Warner 3.5.
Sacks: N - Strottman. P - Davidson, Van Vliet, Warner, Joel Byram 0.5, Nate Kissinger 0.5.
Fumble recoveries: N - Saunders, Matt Chitty, Joseph DePenning.
Interceptions: P - Van Zee, Downs, Curtis Ware.