BAXTER - An emotional rivalry game brought out the best in the Collins-Maxwell football team when the Spartans took on their former teammates from Baxter Friday at Baxter.
Collins-Maxwell still fell short, dropping a 42-22 decision after struggling to slow the Bolts’ ground game.
But the Spartans put together the best four quarters in their short existence as a football program. It marked the first time the young program had gone the entire game without a running clock — Collins Maxwell was only down 26-22 entering the fourth quarter before running out of gas.
“They had to line up against their former teammates — I couldn’t even imagine doing that, and our guys handled it very well,” Collins-Maxwell head football coach Cory Crnkovich said. “After the first snap, all our boys wanted to do compete for a win, and that’s what we did. Our guys gave everything they had, but we just came up short.
“We had plenty of chances to score and take the lead, but we still are having too many mental mistakes. If we can manage those, we will be fine.”
The Spartans trailed 20-6 at the half. In the third quarter, Kadin Bennett found Simon McKinney on a 25-yard touchdown pass and later hooked up with Brett Livesay on a 19-yard score.
Rylee Scott ran in both 2-point conversions to help Collins-Maxwell pull within one touchdown of taking the lead entering the fourth quarter.
But the Spartan offense stalled over the final 12 minutes, and Baxter’s Rory and Dalton Heer each scored a touchdown to enable the Bolts to pull away and earn their first victory of the season.
Bennett completed 10 of 18 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Mason Markley was 3 of 6 for 54 yards and an interception for Collins-Maxwell.
“Our timing for our passing game has improved a lot,” Crnkovich said. “Our quarterbacks are making the right reads and the wide outs are taking advantage of the opportunities they are given.”
John Kasper stepped up with five catches for 100 yards at receiver for Collins-Maxwell. Livesay made four grabs for 70 yards and two touchdowns — the first being a 19-yarder in the first quarter — and McKinney added two catches for 25 yards and a score.
“In weeks past, we had a hard time catching wide open passes,” Crnkovich said.
“This week, that wideout group was on a mission, and they paid attention to the coverages that were thrown at them.”
Caleb Fullerton ran for 66 yards on eight carries and Bennett added 42 yards rushing on 15 attempts.
As a team, the Spartans compiled 282 total yards.
Baxter totaled 442 yards. The Bolts had good balance, with 282 rushing yards and 160 through the air.
McKinney made 12.5 tackles, Fullerton 11 and Scott nine for the Spartan defense. Carson Skinner chipped in 5.5, Mitchell Bienfang five, Livesay 4.5 and Hunter Clair four plus an interception.
Brendyn Padget replaced injured Cole Damman at quarterback for Baxter and completed 11 of 15 passes for 160 yards and two touchdowns and added 78 yards and one score on the ground.
Rory Heer ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns and Dalton Heer made four catches for 87 yards and a score and chipped in 19 yards on the ground.
On defense, Rory Heer picked off two passes and Will Clapper and Koby Barber each had two sacks for Baxter.
The loss put Collins-Maxwell at 0-5 on the season and 0-2 in 8-man District 5. The Spartans have a shot at earning their first-ever victory this Friday against Colo-NESCO (0-5, 0-2).
“The guys know what we need to do to pick up our first win this Friday,” Crnkovich said. “We got a taste of what it’s like to be in a game. This week in practice we will have to adjust some schemes, but if we compete like we did against Baxter and take care of the ball, we will have a chance.”
“We’ve never been in a game for four quarters and we got a taste of that last week,” Crnkovich said. “This week, we have to keep building on the Baxter game. We have to keep trusting the process.”
The game between Collins-Maxwell and Colo-NESCO takes place on homecoming night at Colo. It is set to start at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Baxter 42, Collins-Maxwell 22
CM 6 0 16 0 - 22
B 8 12 6 16 - 42
B - Andrew Esqueda 19 pass from Brendyn Padget (Carter Nelsen pass from Padget).
CM - Brett Livesay 17 pass from Kadin Bennett (PAT failed).
B - Rory Heer 20 run (PAT failed).
B - Padget 3-run (PAT failed).
CM - Simon McKinney 25 pass from Bennett (Rylee Scott run).
B - Heer 25 run (PAT failed).
CM - Livesay 19 pass from Bennett (Scott run).
B - Heer 3 run (Padget run).
B - Dalton Heer 26 pass from Padget (Padget run).
Rushes-yards 25-76 48-282
Passing 13-24-2 11-15-1
Passing yards 206 160
Total yards 282 442
Fumbles lost 0 0
Punts-average 4-32.5 3-31.7
Rushing: CM - Caleb Fullerton 8-66, Kadin Bennett 15-42, Mason Markley 2-(-32). B - Rory Heer 22-141, Brendyn Padget 17-78, Andrew Esqueda 8-44, Dalton Heer 1-19.
Passing: CM - Bennett 10-18-1-152, Markley 3-6-1-54. B - Padget 11-15-1-160.
Receiving: CM - John Kasper 5-100, Brett Livesay 4-70, Simon McKinney 2-25, Hunter Clair 1-6, Fullerton 1-5. B - D. Heer 4-87, Carter Nelsen 2-27, R. Heer 3-21, Esqueda 1-19, Peyton Johnston 1-6 .
Tackles: CM - McKinney 12.5, Fullerton 11, Rylee Scott 9, Carson Skinner 5.5, Mitchell Bienfang 5. B - R. Heer 8, Esqueda 5, Padget 4.5, Koby Barber 4.5, Will Clapper 4.
Sacks: B - Barber 2, Clapper 2, Nelsen 1.
Interceptions: CM - Clair. B - R. Heer 2.