How big plays hurt Nevada in loss to West Marshall. Cubs drop showdown in Nevada, 35-31

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

The Nevada football team simply gave up too m any big plays in a 35-31 loss to West Marshall in a non-conference thriller Friday at Cub Stadium. 

West Marshall's Peyton Hart connected with Grahm Nason on a 72-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 left to give a Trojan team ranked seventh in Class 2A a dramatic victory over the No. 4 team in Class 3A.

Nevada quarterback Noah Mills (15) throws the ball as West Marshall linebacker Peyton Hart (9) and defensive lineman Austin Pfantz (3) converge on him during the first quarter of the No. 4 (3A) Cubs' 35-31 loss to the No. 7 (2A) Trojans

"We've still a lot of work to do," Nevada running back Cason Stevenson said. "I'll still ride with the boys. I'll take them any time of the week."

Nevada rallied from a 21-10 deficit at the half to lead twice, 24-21, and 31-28, before giving up the winning touchdown.

Here's what we learned from Nevada's loss to the Trojans:

Mistakes doom Nevada

Nevada took a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Aidan Freeman. West Marshall quickly countered when Hart found Jace Eich running wide open over the middle for a 68-yard touchdown.

Eich redeemed himself after dropping a wide-open pass in the end zone near the end of the first quarter.

Just a couple plays later West Marshall's Carson Davis intercepted a Noah Mills pass and ran it 53 yards for a touchdown to suddenly give the Trojans a 21-10 lead with 3:56 to go in the half.

"We just made too many mistakes," Nevada head coach Andrew Kleeman said. "You're not going to win too many ball games when you turn the ball over like that and don't execute effectively in those key situations. Hats off to West Marshall. They played a cleaner football game than we did."

The Cubs came back with a big touchdown drive late in the third quarter where they converted two fourth downs, including one inside their own 40, and finished off the drive with a 4-yard Mills touchdown run.

Cason Stevenson added a 12-yard touchdown run with 8:36 left in the fourth to put the Cubs on top and Will Palmer countered a Trojan touchdown with a wide-open 33-yard catch from Mills with 1:43 left in regulation to set up the big finish. 

Kyle Kingsbury caught a 35-yard touchdown pass off a deflection during the first quarter of the Cubs' 35-31 loss to West Marshall Friday at Cub Stadium in Nevada, Iowa

Offense finds its rhythm a little too late

Nevada had a tough time running the ball in the first half and that played a big role in West Marshall taking control.

The Cubs found their groove over the final two quarters. Stevenson had some big runs and Mills also started hurting the Trojans with his legs along with the big touchdown pass to Palmer.

"Certainly the talent is there," Kleeman said. "We just need to keep focusing on the little things. That's what early season is all about. We feel good about things. There was a lot of good stuff today. We just have to clean up the mental mistakes and we'll be fine."

Stevenson rushed 36 times for 162 yards. Mills completed 15 of 21 passes for 223 yards, Drew Robinson made seven receptions or 94, Kyle Kingsbury had five grabs for 79 and one touchdown and Palmer finished with three catches for 50.

Defensively, Jackson Burlage and Carson Mather each recorded five tackles, Dylan Fritz added four and Kingsbury 3.5. Burlage also had a sack, Dallas Stanley one tackle for loss and Aiden Thompson and Nate Anderson combined for one tackle behind the line.

Roland-Story up next for Cubs

Nevada will have to hunker down next week if they hope to prevent the start of a losing streak.

Nevada fans cheer during the Nevada and West Marshall football game at Cub Stadium on Friday

"It's another rivalry game," Kleeman said. "I'm sure our kids will be excited. We need to get back to work on Monday and get better."

Roland-Story has made big strides under head coach Matt Finn and the Norse could be a tough out at Story City even though Nevada won last year's match-up by a decisive 64-7 score at Cub Stadium. 

West Marshall 35, Nevada 31

West Marshall        7        14        0        14 — 35

Nevada                    7         3         7        14 — 31

Individual statistical leaders

Rushing: West Marshall — Peyton Hart 17-101. Nevada — Cason Stevenson 36-162.

Passing: West Marshall — Hart 9-14-0-271. Nevada — Noah Mills 15-21-3-223.

Receiving: West Marshall — Graham Nason 4-148. Nevada — Drew Robinson 7-94.

Tackles: West Marshall — Caden Vellinga 10.5. Nevada — Jackson Burlage 5, Carson Mather 5.

Sacks: West Marshall — Hart 1, Sam Schaper 1. Nevada — Burlage 1.

Interceptions: West Marshall — Carson Davis 2.