NEVADA – Big plays propelled Nevada past Roland-Story and into the playoffs Friday as the Cubs used a big second half to down the Norsemen, 42-26, at Cub Stadium in Nevada.
Nevada had three touchdown runs of over 40 yards – two covering at least 85 yards – in the second half. That enabled the Cubs to break a 14-14 tie at the half and earn their third-straight victory to clinch the final playoff spot in Class 2A District 7.
“I can’t describe how great it is,” Nevada senior Patrick Stephenson said. “We’ve received a lot of negative comments from people, saying we wouldn’t make it this far because of the class we had last year. It means the world to me and the rest of the guys. Even the guys who aren’t seniors, to rise above and really show people what we’re made of.”
Stephenson turned the game in Nevada’s favor for good just over four minutes into the third quarter.
Nevada made a big defensive stand on the opening drive of the second half to force a Roland-Story punt. The Cubs were pinned back at their own 15 when they took possession, but in one play the momentum completely swung their way.
Stephenson lined up in the wingback position, took a handoff on a counter and outraced the Norse defenders down the near side line 85 yards for a touchdown to put the Cubs up 21-14 with 7:45 left in the period.
“That was a new play that we put in this week,” Stephenson said. We thought it would work because they were keying in on Chase (Dobson) so much and you’ve got to give credit to the line. We just learned it this week; they executed it beautifully and gave me a big hole to run through.”
The Nevada defense held again on Roland-Story’s next drive and then turned things over to Dobson.
After tight end Joel Olson made two catches for 31 yards to get the Cubs in Norse territory, Dobson had three strong runs to set up his own 4-yard touchdown run to give Nevada a two-touchdown lead with 10:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Roland-Story threatened to get back in the game on its next drive as a big run by Isaiah Soderstrum and a 14-yard pass from Zach Hovick to Kane Hassebrock got the ball to the Cub 33. But Nevada forced Roland-Story into a fourth-and-9 situation and Stephenson came through with a big interception at the Cub 3 yard-line to end the drive.
It took Nevada just two plays to go 97 yards and ice the game. After a 5-yard run by fullback Riley Huhn, Dobson took a handoff, found a big hole and outraced the Norsemen for a season-long 92-yard touchdown to give Nevada a 35-14 lead with 6:18 left.
“The line opened up a huge hole and I had to make one cut and outrun one guy and we did what we did,” Dobson said. “It was a good run and you’ve got to give it to the whole team. That gave us a good advantage and we kept on them and played until the end.”
Dobson ended up with a game-high 204 yards rushing on 19 carries. It was the fifth-straight game the junior tailback topped the 200-yard mark as he finished the regular season with 1,838 yards and 17 touchdowns on 205 carries.
Roland-Story picked up a pair of touchdowns in the final 3:30 after the game had been decided. In between those two scores, Peyton Sharp had a 40-yard touchdown run for Nevada.
With this victory, Nevada ended the season on a three-game winning streak after a 1-5 start to finish 4-5 overall and 3-3 in 2A District 7. That streak got the Cubs their first back-to-back playoff appearances in school history and also gave head coach John Pelzer his 100th-career victory.
“That’s secondary,” Pelzer said of his milestone win. “The big thing is the kids making it to the playoffs. That other stuff takes care of itself when you have good assistants and good players.”
Nevada nearly hit 500 yards of total offense on the night, finishing with 495. The Cubs had 404 yards rushing on 39 carries.
Stephenson topped 100 yards rushing, finishing with 103 on just four carries. Huhn tacked on 49 yards rushing, Brandon Burke was 5 of 6 passing for 91 yards, Olson caught four passes for 55 yards and one touchdown and T.J. Fey added one 36-yard grab for Nevada.
On defense Stephenson totaled nine tackles, one tackle for loss and an interception. Jake Barker also had nine tackles and a stop behind the line, Huhn and Traye Pelzer each made seven tackles and Dayne Sly had five stops and one tackle for loss.
Roland-Story completed its season with a 2-7 overall record and 2-5 mark in the district. The Norse had 428 total yards on a balanced attack with 252 rushing and 176 passing.
Soderstrum ran for 110 yards on 18 carries, caught five passes for 84 yards and threw an 2-yard touchdown pass to Blake Morgan. Zach Hovick completed 11 of 24 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown with one interception and he also ran for 65 yards for the Norse.
Nevada 42, Roland-Story 26
RS 7 7 0 12 – 26
N 7 7 7 21 – 42
N – Joel Olson 15 pass from Brandon Burke (Erik Fevold kick), 8:37
RS – Josiah Soderstrum 17 run (Sam Mathis kick), 2:54
N – Riley Huhn 9 run (Fevold kick), 3:18
RS – Blake Morgan 2 pass from Soderstrum (Mathis kick), 0:19
N – Patrick Stephenson 85 run (Fevold kick), 7:45
N – Chase Dobson 4 run (Fevold kick), 10:09
N – Dobson 92 run (Fevold kick), 6:18
RS – Soderstrum 1 run (run failed), 3:30
N – Peyton Sharp 40 run (Fevold kick), 2:15
RS – Trent Elliott 17 pass from Zach Hovick (run failed), 0:58
Team statistics RS N
First downs 20 18
Rushes-yards 45-252 39-404
Passing 12-26-1 5-6-0
Passing yards 176 91
Total yards 428 495
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
Punts-average 3-35.3 1-36.0
Penalties-yards 6-48 3-21
Rushing: RS – Josiah Soderstrum 18-110, Zach Hovick 13-62, Blake Morgan 8-55, Andrew Schlatter 6-25. N – Chase Dobson 19-204, Patrick Stephenson 4-103, Riley Huhn 11-49, Peyton Sharp 1-40.
Passing: RS – Hovick 11-24-1-174, Soderstrum 1-1-0-2. N – Brandon Burke 5-6-0-91.
Receiving: RS – Soderstrum 5-84, Morgan 3-46, Trent Elliott 1-17, Kane Hassebrock 1-15, Schlatter 1-9, Charlie Messer 1-5. N – Joel Olson 4-55, T.J. Fey 1-36.
Tackles: N – Stephenson 9, Jake Barker 9, Huhn 7, Traye Pelzer 7.
Interceptions: N – Stephenson.