Royals stun Spartans, 34-30: C-N comes back from 30-13 deficit
COLO - A big pass play, a blocked punt and stellar defense down the stretch sparked a 34-30 comeback victory for the Colo-NESCO football team over Collins-Maxwell in 8-man District 5 play Friday in Colo.
The Royals trailed 30-13 over four minutes into the second half, but came roaring back to improve to 2-0 in the district and 2-1 overall.
“Early on last year and the year before that this team would’ve just given up,” Colo-NESCO head coach Josh Nessa said. “We’re making a lot of progress. This is huge for us.”
A.J. Smith scored his third touchdown of the game for Collins-Maxwell with 7:55 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans their biggest lead. But Andrew Grover immediately struck back for Colo-NESCO, sneaking out of the backfield to catch a wide-open pass from Kenny Cutler and race 66 yards to paydirt just 22 seconds after Smith’s score.
“That’s a play that worked for us last year,” Nessa said. “Coach (John) Pelzer does a great job calling the plays and (Grover) just chipped the end and then goes out into the flats and he’s just wide open because they’re so used to seeing that action.”
A bad snap resulting in a big loss by Collins-Maxwell helped Colo-NESCO force a punt on the Spartans’ next possession. The Royal offense then marched down the field and on the first play of the fourth quarter quarterback Kenny Cutler plunged into the endzone from 1 yard out to pull the Royals within 30-28.
The Colo-NESCO defense came up big again on the next Collins-Maxwell drive to force another punt. Then Royal defensive end Tanner Ingle came up with the special teams play of the game by blocking a punt to give the Royals the ball at the Spartan 21.
“It was like a missile for me,” Ingle said. “I was going in as hard as I could. I knew if I just beat that one dude on that edge I could get back there and make that play.”
It took the Royals four plays to capitalize on Ingle’s big punt block. On the fourth play Cutler ran the ball in from three yards out with 9:17 to go for the go-ahead touchdown..
Collins-Maxwell still had plenty of time to answer. But Colo-NESCO defensive tackle D.J. McMillan made two big plays to disrupt the Spartans’ next drive - forcing them to turn the ball over on downs.
“I just got it in my head that I’ve got to toughen up, get in there and make some tackles,” McMillan said.
McMillan ended the game with 4.5 tackles and he also ate up a lot of space so the Royal linebackers and defensive backs could make plays. He credited an aggressive approach in the second half to turning things around for the Royal defense.
“We started switching up what gaps we were going to go in,” McMillan said. “We’d line up and then twist over and start confusing them. We played some good defense.”
Colo-NESCO failed to answer on its next drive, giving Collins-Maxwell one last crack at regaining the lead. But the Royal defense held firm again, with Andrew Tschantz stopping Jace Huntrods short of the first down marker on a fourth and long play with 1:37 to go.
Grover picked up a first down run on the Royals’ next possession to ice the game.
“We had a nice win last week, but this was a better opponent that does a lot of different things,” Nessa said. “For having a crappy week of practice with crappy weather I think they performed pretty well and figured things out in the second half.”
Colo-NESCO gave up 308 yards rushing, but only 23 on the ground. The Royals only allowed 18 yards after the final Collins-Maxwell scoring drive.
“It’s so nice to have our defense be able to step up in big moments and make some big plays at the end,” Ingle said. “It feels amazing.”
Ingle had 4.5 tackles and one tackle for loss. Brandon Roberts made 6.5 stops and two tackles for loss, Grover and Tschantz each had 7.5 tackles, Cutler tallied six stops plus an interception and Parker Ryan led the Royals with 13 stops and one tackle for loss.
Grover ended up with 151 yards and one touchdown rushing to go along with his huge touchdown reception to pace the Royals on offense. He credited a big talk at halftime with generating the right mindset for the Royals to make their comeback.
“We went into the shed at halftime all yelling and angry,” Grover said. “We came out and started great, but in the second quarter we started slacking. In (the shed) we changed our minds and were like we ain’t slacking no more. We ran hard, everyone put down solid blocks, I could get up the hole - it just all clicked.”
Cutler completed 3 of 5 passes for 110 yards to go along with his two touchdown runs. Kaleb Gray ran for 31 yards and a touchdown, Roberts had 41 yards rushing and Tschantz made two grabs for 44 yards.
The loss was the first of the season for Collins-Maxwell. The Spartans fell to 2-1 both overall and in the district.
Smith ended up with 213 yards rushing on 22 carries, Huntrods had 86 yards rushing, 13 receiving and 10 passing, Luke Huntrods caught one pass for 10 yards and Mason Markley completed 1 of 5 passes for 13 yards with an interception.
Luke Huntrods had eight tackles, Kayden McKinney 7.5 plus a fumble recovery and Caleb Dvorak a sack for the Spartans on defense.
Up next for Colo-NESCO is a road game against Meskwaki (1-2). Warrior quarterback Taurice Grant presents the Royal defense with a big challenge as he can do damage with both his legs (441 yards rushing) and his arm (405 passing).
“They gave us fits last year and they have a very athletic quarterback,” Nessa said. “They look to be much-improved. It’s going to be pretty tough.”
The Royals’ came with Meskwaki is set to start at 7 p.m. next Friday at Meskwaki High School in Tama.
Colo-NESCO 34, Collins-Maxwell 30
CM 8 16 6 0 - 30
CN 13 0 8 13 - 34
CN - Kelly Gray 3 run (Ephram Muntz kick), 8:21.
CM - Rylee Scott 1 run (Jace Huntrods run), 3:13.
CN - Andrew Grover 33 run (run failed), 2:14.
CM - A.J. Smith 65 run (Mason Markley run), 9:00.
CM - Smith 5 run (Caleb Dvorak pass from Markley), 5:22.
CM - Smith 1 run (run failed), 7:55.
CN - Grover 66 pass from Kenny Cutler (Grover run), 7:33.
CN - Cutler 1 run (Muntz kick), 11:57.
CN - Cutler 3 run (run failed), 9:17.
Team statistics C-M C-N
Rushes-yards 46-308 45-230
Passing 2-6-1 3-5-0
Passing yards 23 110
Total yards 331 340
Fumbles lost 0 1
Punts-average 2-41.5 2-30.0
Rushing: CM - A.J. Smith 22-213, Jace Huntrods 22-86, Rylee Scott 3-9. CN - Andrew Grover 21-151, Brandon Roberts 8-41, Kaleb Gray 11-31, Kenny Cutler 5-7.
Passing: CM - Mason Markley 1-5-1-13, Huntrods 1-1-0-10. CN - Cutler 3-5-0-110.
Receiving: CM - Huntrods 1-13, Luke Huntrods 1-10. CN - Grover 1-66, Andrew Tschantz 2-44.
Tackles: CM - L. Huntrods 8, Kayden McKinney 7.5, Brayden Bartleson 7, Smith 5.5, Weston Kahler 5.5, Mitchell Bienfang 5.5. CN - Parker Ryan 13, Grover 7.5, Tschantz 7.5, Roberts 6.5, Cutler 6.
Sacks: CM - Caleb Dvorak.
Fumble recoveries: CM - McKinney.
Interceptions: CN - Cutler.