By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The new Big 8 Conference got things underway Friday night when the Nevada Tigers visited the Reeds Spring Wolves. Having not played each other in the past few years, each side was unfamiliar with the other but had viewed many hours of film. It was a story of two halves, with the first half being tightly played but the second saw Reeds Spring take advantage of Nevada’s turnovers. Both teams are known for their running attack so it was a surprise when Reeds Spring seniors Blake Gronvold and Cole Watson connected for four touchdown passes to lead the Wolves to the 52-32 victory.
“It was a good game,” said Watson. “The first half we were kind of trying to figure things out, they run a weird offense and defense. As we progressed we got it down and by second half we were dominating. We knew they were going to play coverage, and we knew their corners were going to come off strong on run defense. We knew that if we could get to the outside, we’d have the chance to score touchdowns. I had four touchdowns and it feels good, good first game to start the year off.”
The first half did not start off well for the Wolves, as they turned the ball over early in the first quarter. On Nevada’s first play on offense they showed a little trickery as they ran a half-back option to sophomore Kaden Denney from senior Jaren Powrie for a 52-yard touchdown. Reeds Spring would answer back when Gronvold connected with Watson for a 17-yard touchdown pass. On the ensuing kickoff, Denney ran the return for 91-yards, giving Nevada a 12-6 lead, even though they had only run one play on offense. Reeds Spring then marched the ball down the field and with 3 minutes remaining in the quarter Gronvold connected with Watson for 15-yards, tying the game.
In the second quarter, the defenses on both sides settled down and did not give up the big play. Reeds Spring scored their lone touchdown of the quarter when senior Seth Stamps scored from 30-yards out. Gronvold would run in the 2-pt conversion on a broken play, giving the Wolves a 20-12 lead. Nevada got the score within two when senior Trey Beachler caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from junior Matt Thorp. Reeds Spring would march the ball down the field but the Wolves ended up turning the ball over on downs; Nevada, however, did not capitalize on the turnover. The score at the half was 20-18 in favor of the Wolves.
“I thought we faced a little adversity in the first half but that our kids responded,” said Reeds Spring coach Lance Gosch. “We turned the ball over that first half and that hurt us. Then the long kickoff return and I thought we cleaned that up. The second half was big on the defensive side, we took advantage of some turnovers and that really turned the game for us. The third quarter was big for us, it turned the momentum and we got up on them.”
The Tigers came out in the second half, turned the ball over four straight possessions and Reeds Spring was quick to take advantage of the Nevada mistakes.
“We fumbled twice, threw a pick, and didn’t field a squib kick to start the third quarter,” said Nevada coach Wes Beachler. “You can’t do that when you play a good team. We missed an opportunity for a touchdown pass at the end of the half that could have maybe put us up by four or six by halftime… missed opportunities. It looked like a week one game for us.”
In the third quarter Reeds Spring sophomore Colton Cramblett ran one in from 16-yards. Cody Hughes had a 25-yard touchdown run. Gronvold and Watson connected on the third touchdown of the quarter. Stamps scampered in for 34-yards, scoring the fourth touchdown of the quarter. With approximately three minutes to go in the quarter Reeds Spring intercepted an errant Tiger pass, giving the Wolves the ball back for the fifth time in the quarter. Gronvold connected with Watson for the fifth touchdown of the quarter, essentially putting the game out of reach for Nevada.
“I thought we played really well,” said Gronvold. “My offensive line gave me a lot of time to pass; they really dominated tonight and they did a good job of handling those big boys up front from Nevada. Cole and I had a great game tonight. We game planned pretty well for it throughout the whole week; we knew what they were going to do and we just ran our game plan. We don’t pass a lot but when we do we are gonna hit you with one. We are run, run, run and sometimes you just don’t expect it. In the first half I think we expected something a little different from Nevada and we were kind of slow to start off. Then the second half we started firing off the ball. I was just proud of the way the team played tonight, proud of the way the entire 11 guys played.”
“Our offense put the ball on the carpet, which looked like week one,” said Beachler. “We’ll get those things fixed and keep plugging ahead. There’s no easy games, you’ve just got to be ready to play. We have a lot of young kids, we are trying to build it up. They are all new starters in the offensive backfield, all new starters at linebacker. We’ve got some things to clean up but they’ll get better with time.”
Nevada scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter with mostly second string players on the field for both sides. Scoring for Nevada was Thorp and sophomore Ty Thomas, making the final score 52-32.
“Every time we have success on the ground, it starts with the guys up front, and we’ve got a lot of guys that made their first start tonight and they did a good job,” said Gosch. “At halftime I told them to just keep working, to clean some things up. We felt we’d worked hard over the summer on conditioning so we thought we were primed for a good second half. Our kids responded and we took care of the ball and were opportunistic on the other side. I thought they did a good job for a lot of those kids’ first Friday night action, I thought they did a good job. It was a good night.”
Nevada 32, Reeds Spring 52
Nevada 12- 6 – 0- 14 32
Reeds Spring 12- 8 – 32 – 0 52
Nevada—Kaden Denney, 52-yard TD pass from Jaren Powrie (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Cole Watson, 17-yard TD pass from Blake Gronvold (PAT no good)
Nevada—Denney, 91-yard TD KO return (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Watson, 15-yard TD pass from Gronvold (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Seth Stamps, 30-yard TD run (2 pt. conv. good)
Nevada—Trey Beachler, 3-yard TD pass from Matt Thorp (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Colton Cramblett, 16-yard TD run (2 pt. conv. good)
Reeds Spring—Cody Hughes, 25-yard TD run (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Watson, 15-yard TD pass from Gronvold (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Stamps, 34-yard TD run (PAT no good)
Reeds Spring—Watson, 14-yard TD pass from Gronvold (PAT no good)
Nevada—Thorp, 6-yard TD run (PAT no good)
Nevada—Ty Thomas, 3-yard TD run (2 pt. conv. good)