NEVADA -- On a night in which multiple levels of football were showcased, the Nevada Tigers and head coach Wes Beachler took to Logan Field against a relative unknown opponent in the Vikings of Kansas City Northeast Law and Public Service.
Both teams came into Nevada Little League Football night fresh off of a win. The Tigers were still riding a high from last week's 54-8 Homecoming victory over El Dorado Springs, while the Vikings eclipsed the .500 mark with a 14-6 victory over Lincoln College Preparatory.
For the second straight week, the Tigers put up more than 50 points and cruised through the entire second half with a running clock on their way to a 54-7 victory. That win brought the Tigers' scoring total to 108 points in just two games since their last defeat.
"I think we're executing at a high level on both sides of the ball and that's always beneficial. I just hope we're not peaking too early," Beachler said. "I think we just need to keep getting better from here and keep working hard and we'll be OK."
After winning the opening coin toss, Taylor Manes gave the Tigers great starting field position at the Northeast 44. The Tigers wasted little time taking full advantage of that field position as Dalton Hendren took the first play 44 yards right through the middle of the Vikings' defense to make it 7-0 Nevada with 11:42 left in the opening period.
The Tigers came into the night hoping to contain the speedy Vikings offense and did so emphatically, stopping Northeast's first drive with an interception by Andrew Schmidt at the 44. It took a little bit longer for Beachler's squad to capitalize on the field position that time, but they eventually did as Bradey Denney capped off a six-play, 44 yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 with 7:44 to go in the first quarter.
"It was good for us to see that style of team," Beachler said. "I thought our kids did a great job neutralizing the speed. And you do that by being where you're supposed to be on defense."
Just 5 minutes later, the Vikings cut the lead in half with a strong drive of their own that was capped off by a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jamell Tunley to Cornell Duley to make it 14-7 with 2:32 left in the first quarter. Nevada didn't need any more motivation than that to respond as they took just two plays to score on a drive that was capped off by a 31-yard scamper by Hendren to make it 21-7 with 1:44 left.
The Tigers still weren't done scoring in the opening half as they once again stopped the Vikings offense and took the ball near midfield. Hendren was the go-to back on that drive as well and ultimately capped it off with a 23-yard scamper for his third touchdown of the night to make it 28-7 with 10:27 left in the half.
Denney got his second score of the night just a couple of minutes later as he capped off what was yet another short drive for the Tigers with a 3-yard touchdown right through the middle of the Vikings defense to make it 34-7 Nevada with 7:57 to go. The Tigers started a drive on their own side of the 50-yard line just once and took full advantage of that field position edge every time, adding one more on a 15-yard run by Tristan Smith to make it 41-7 with 3:31 to go.
Just when everyone thought the Vikings would be able to maintain possession and run out the clock, Cole Sanderson picked up the Tigers' second interception of the night, setting up strong field position once again. Taylor Manes quickly followed with a 15-yard touchdown run that gave the Tigers a 48-7 lead, which they took into the locker room at the break.
The Tigers dominated on all sides of the ball throughout the first half, putting up 301 yards of offense -- all on the ground to just 136 yards of total offense for the Vikings. Hendren led the effort for the Tigers as he rushed for 160 yards on eight carries.
Turnovers and penalties certainly didn't help the Vikings in the first half, either. Northeast was on the receiving end of eight flags in the opening half to just four for Nevada and turned the ball over twice, giving the Tigers a plus-2 turnover margin.
It looked as though the second half should go by quickly with the running clock, but that didn't stop the Tigers from adding to their lead once more in the third quarter on Hendren's fourth touchdown of the game -- a 56-yard run with 4:29 left to make it 54-7.
Just when it looked like the Vikings might be able to find the scoreboard one more time, Joseph Gazaway recovered a Willie Loper fumble on the Nevada 3 for the Tigers' third forced turnover of the night. From there, the Tigers simply ran out the clock, keeping the ball on the ground to take the victory by a final score of 54-7.
The Tigers finished with a total of 432 yards of offense in the contest -- all on the ground -- led by Hendren's 222 yards on just 10 carries. Northeast finished the night with 189 yards of total offense.
"Well, he's a once every five years type of kid," Beachler said of Hendren. "I mean, you have a back like that come through your program every once in a while and we have three of them. He's got great size, good speed, good balance, he sees the field well. He's a good ball player."
With that win, the Tigers improved to 4-2 on the year and are set to head out on the road for just the second time this season next week, taking on the Bulldogs of Springfield Central High School. Kickoff in that contest is set for 7 p.m.