BAXTER - Colo-NESCO may have come up a tad short against Baxter Friday, but no one can take away the amazing effort and big plays the Royals produced in a 72-69 loss to the Bolts.


The game was a wild roller coaster that saw 10 lead changes and the two teams combine for more than 1,000 yards of offense.


“No one at this game could say that it wasn’t exciting,” Colo-NESCO head coach Josh Nessa said. “I am proud that our players never gave up. I don’t think this would have happened early in the season. We have much more fight in us than we did at the beginning of the season.”


Colo-NESCO battled back from a 38-21 deficit to push Baxter to the limit.


Andrew Grover scored on a 16-yard run and Francis Bower added a 2-point conversion run to cut Baxter’s lead to nine points at halftime. The Royals then surged ahead by a 49-44 score in the third quarter as Bower, Grover and Andrew Tschantz each had a touchdown run.


Baxter regained the lead just before the end of the third on a 55-yard Rory Heer run, but Bower scampered 25 yards to paydirt to give Colo-NESCO a 55-50 lead early in the fourth.


The back-and-forth play continued the rest of the game.


Baxter went ahead on a Cole Damman run, Grover answered with a 33-yard tote into the end zone and the Bolts came back with a 9-yard Damman run for six. Colo-NESCO went up 69-64 on a 3-yard Bower run, but Damman hooked up with Cody Damman on a 14-yard touchdown pass to reclaim the lead for Baxter by three points.


Colo-NESCO had one last chance. The Royals drove deep into Bolt territory, but fell just short of the goal line on the last play of the game.


“Our players kept grinding and for that I am really proud of them,” Nessa said. “ We had our chance to win the game as we came up only two yards short on the final play of the game.”


The game featured explosive plays by two very different offenses. Colo-NESCO used a physical ground game with two tight ends on the line and Baxter ran a lot out of the spread.


Colo-NESCO finished with 480 yards, 426 of which came on the ground.


“We love to run the ball and our players have a lot of pride in our new offense this season,” Nessa said. “Our backs are finishing their runs much better and just when you think they are down they surge ahead for more yards. Our line has improved so much since the beginning of the season.”


Bower ran for 158 yards and five touchdowns and caught four passes for 54 yards and a score. Grover finished with 144 yards and three scores on the ground, Tschantz ran for 82 yards and Brandon Roberts threw for 54 yards and ran for 36.


Baxter compiled 563 yards. The Bolts also had a tremendous running game, but they also featured a little more balance with 404 yards rushing and 159 through the air.


“The Bolts love to pass and use it to set up the run and scramble,” Nessa said. “We thought we had come up with a great scheme against the Bolts and many times we had them covered. But they would scramble and it was difficult to tackle them when we were all spread out.”


Cole Damman had an amazing game with 263 yards rushing and 159 passing and he accounted for eight touchdowns. Heer had 139 yards rushing, 54 receiving and three total touchdowns and Carter Nelsen caught six passes for 77 yards and a score for Baxter.


Tschantz had 10 tackles and Grover four tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery to lead Colo-NESCO on defense. Parker Ryan had 6.5 tackles and half a sack, Bower 5.5 stops, Roberts five tackles and half a sack, Tanner Ingle three tackles and a sack and Jayce Woodle three tackles.


The loss put Colo-NESCO at 3-6 on the season and 3-3 in 8-man District 5. Baxter improved to 4-5 and 3-3 respectively.


Colo-NESCO finishes up the season this week against Gladbrook-Reinbeck (6-2, 6-0). Gladbrook-Reinbeck has already clinched the district championship.


“They look to be much improved from last year, in which they were district champs as well,” Nessa said. “They are like us in that they love the run game. Looking forward to a great senior night in Colo on Friday.


The game against Gladbrook-Reinbeck is set to start at 7 p.m. this Friday.


Baxter 72, Colo-NESCO 69


CN 14 15 20 20 - 69


B 16 22 12 22 - 72


Scoring


First quarter


B - Cole Damman 39 run (Damman run).


CN - Francis Bower 33 run (run failed).


CN - Bower 1 run (Andrew Grover run).


B - Damman 65 run (Tice Clapper pass from Damman).


Second quarter


B - Heer 33 run (Damman run).


CN - Bower 1 pass from Brandon Roberts (Ephram Muntz kick).


B - Heer 30 pass from Damman (Heer run).


B - Carter Nelsen 17 pass from Damman (pass failed).


CN - Grover 16 run (Bower run).


Third quarter


CN - Bower 1 run (kick blocked).


B - Damman 12 run (Heer run).


CN - Andrew Tschantz 17 run (kick failed).


CN - Grover 4 run (Grover run).


B - Heer 55 run (run failed).


Fourth quarter


CN - Bower 25 run (run failed).


B - Damman 3 run (Cody Damman pass from Damman).


CN - Grover 33 run (Roberts run).


B - Col. Damman 9 run (run failed).


CN - Bower 3 run (run failed).


B - Cod. Damman 14 pass from Col. Damman (Col. Damman run)


Team statistics


C-N B


Rushes-yards 60-426 35-404


Passing 4-9-1 13-19-1


Passing yards 54 159


Total yards 480 563


Fumbles lost 0 1


Punts-average 2-32.0 NA


Individual statistics


Rushing: CN - Francis Bower 25-158, Andrew Grover 23-144, Andrew Tschantz 4-82, Brandon Roberts 7-36, Tanner Ingle 1-6. B - Cole Damman 26-263, Rory Heer 8-139, Jake Travis 1-2.


Passing: CN - Bower 4-9-1-54. B - Damman 13-19-1-159.


Receiving: CN - Bower 4-54. B - Carter Nelsen 6-77, Heer 3-54, Cody Damman 3-25, Travis 1-3.


Tackles: CN - Tschantz 10, Parker Ryan 6.5, Bower 5.5, Roberts 5, Grover 4. B - Col. Damman 12, Cod. Damman 12, Travis 7.5 Micah Kearns 6.


Sacks: CN - Ingle, Roberts 0.5, Ryan 0.5. B - Kearns.


Fumble recoveries: CN - Grover.


Interceptions: CN - Grover. B - Cod. Damman.