NEVADA — It wasn’t easy, but the Nevada football team found a way to outlast a gritty Vinton-Shellsburg team and earn a 28-21 homecoming victory Friday at Cub Stadium.
Nevada was coming off back-to-back decisive wins over Perry and South Tama, and Vinton-Shellsburg entered the game without a victory on the season. But Nevada had a tough time getting its explosive passing attack going against the Vikings.
At halftime, the two teams were knotted up at 7-7 in a defensive struggle. But in the third quarter, Nevada turned up the dial offensively and defensively, scoring two unanswered touchdowns.
Sam Abraham found Jakob Strottman on a 3-yard touchdown pass and Cub quarterback Kody Kruschwitz threw a 22-yard scoring toss to Andrew Saunders for Nevada in the third.
The fourth quarter saw Vinton-Shellsburg battle back. Brooks Erickson ran in his first touchdown of the game from seven yards out to pull the Vikings closed within 21-14 with 10 minutes, 50 seconds left in regulation.
Nevada responded with its third scoring drive of the half. Strottman capped it off with a 12-yard touchdown run with 6:29 remaining.
Vinton-Shellsburg put one more score on the board when Erickson found the end zone on a 1-yard run. But Nevada held on after Kruschwitz found Saunders for 16 yards on a third-and-5 play to enable the Cubs to run out the clock, improve to 3-2 on the season and start off 1-0 in Class 2A District 7.
“The kids played hard, and we came out with a hard-fought win,” Nevada head football coach Andrew Kleeman said. “(Vinton-Shellsburg) had a great game plan and came out differently than they showed on film. It forced us to make adjustments and the kids responded well. We were able to execute better in the second half offensively and made enough stops defensively to win the game.”
Nevada won despite being outgained 334-252 in total yards.
After turning in the two best passing games in school history over the last couple weeks, Kruschwitz was held to 132 yards on 9 of 16 passing with one touchdown and interception apiece. But he came up with the big completions when they were needed in the second half, and was also the team’s leading rusher with 48 yards — including a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Abraham ran for 36 yards, completed two passes for eight yards and caught three for 33 yards. Saunders finished with three catches for 43 yards, Strottman 35 yards rushing and 32 receiving and Nelson one reception for 32 yards.
On defense, Abraham and Ayden Rhodes each made nine tackles and Jay Calentine added 5.5 stops and a sack. Strottman and Anthony Ellis each picked up seven tackles and Nelson recovered a fumble.
Vinton-Shellsburg fell to 0-5 and 0-1 respectively. Erickson ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 43 yards and another score, and Jose Wilson had 37 yards rushing and 36 passing for the Vikings.
Nevada goes on the road this week to take on Benton Community (4-1, 0-1). The game will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Van Horne.
Nevada 28, Vinton-Shellsburg 21
VS 0 7 0 14 - 21
N 7 0 14 7 - 28
N - Kody Kruschwitz 30 run (Kruschwitz kick), 6:19.
VS - CJ Rickels 16 pass from Brooks Erickson (Alex Pladsen kick), 0:43.
N - Jakob Strottman 3 pass from Sam Abraham (Kruschwitz kick), 7:37.
N - Andrew Saunders 22 pass from Kruschwitz (Kruschwitz kick), 3:22.
VS - Erickson 7 run (Pladsen kick), 10:50.
N - Strottman 12 run (Kruschwitz kick), 6:29.
VS - Erickson 1 run (Pladsen kick), 2:32.
Team statisticsV-S N
First downs 19 15
Rushes-yards 40-255 33-112
Passing 8-13-0 11-18-1
Passing yards 79 140
Total yards 334 252
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-average 4-24.2 2-47.0
Penalties-yards 10-68 5-61
Rushing: VS - Brooks Erickson 20-191, Jose Wilson 10-37, Keegan Thompson 8-14, Alex Pladsen 2-14. N - Kody Kruschwitz 6-48, Sam Abraham 10-36, Jakob Strottman 11-35, Caden Jones 2-1.
Passing: VS - Erickson 6-9-1-43, Wilson 2-4-0-36. N - Kruschwitz 9-16-1-132, Abraham 2-2-0-8.
Receiving: VS - Chevy Burnell 1-30, C.J. Rickels 4-26, Jay Young 2-21, Sam Griffith 1-2. N - Andrew Saunders 3-43, Abraham 3-33, Joven Nelson 1-32, Strottman 3-32, Blake Bottorf 1-0.
Tackles: N - Abraham 9, Ayden Rhodes 9, Strottman 7, Anthony Ellis 7, Jay Calentine 5.5.
Sacks: N - Calentine.
Fumble recoveries: N - Nelson.
Interceptions: VS - Pladsen.