Tigers strike early and often, flatten Springfield Central, 49-12

Saturday, September 23, 2017
Nevada Tigers senior tailback, Braxton Shadden (24), proves hard tackle during Friday night's road matchup with Springfield Central.
Submitted photo

The rout was on early Friday night as the Nevada Tigers stomped Springfield Central, 49-12, in a non-conference road matchup.

Springfield Central entered the contest 0-5, having been outscored on the season 206-16.

“We need to play the game the right way all the time, regardless of who we’re playing, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight,” said Nevada head coach Wes Beachler. “And we’ll get tested on that next week when we play a really good DeSoto (Kan.) team.”

Nevada Tigers fullback, Zach Gardner, sheds a Springfield Central defender, en route to a first half touchdown Friday night.
Submitted photo

Nevada (3-3 overall, 2-2 WCC), scored on the opening drive of the game, a seven-play, 65-yard drive capped by a Shelby Trotter three-yard touchdown run over left guard. Matt Thorp’s extra point gave the Tigers a 7-0 advantage with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter.

A Jaren Powrie interception on Central’s first possession had Nevada’s offense setting up shop near midfield. After converting a fourth-and-five, Nevada fullback Zach Gardner punctuated the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.

Taking an inside handoff from senior quarterback Braeden Hinton, the 6-foot, 220 pound Gardner received a key block from left guard Peyton Denney, cut back to the left, and romped into the end zone. After punching in the two-point conversion, Nevada led 15-0 with 3:47 to play in the first.

“With the exception of (Central’s) nose guard, I thought we were the more physical team up front,” noted Beachler. “We played the way we need to play from the get-go.”

The Tigers weren’t finished pouring it on in the first. After quickly regaining possession, they drove in for their third score of the opening stanza, capped by a 20-yard Trotter scoring run. After being converted from wide receiver to tailback, it was Trotter’s sixth touchdown of the season. Thorp’s extra point handed the Tigers a commanding 22-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter a massive hit by Nevada safety Braxton Shadden led Springfield Central quarterback Danny Adams to cough up the ball, with outside linebacker Coletan Shepard scooping up the fumble and taking it in for the 12-yard score. Thorp’s extra point extended Nevada’s lead to 29-0.

Shepard, who missed the first four games of the season, made his debut last week against Smith-Cotton High School.

“I think he’s proven that he’s a solid football player,” said Beachler of the junior, who also plays cornerback. “He still has some things to learn, but I think he’s picked up things fairly quickly, and is playing well for us right now.”

Things went from bad to worse for Central, as a turnover on its ensuing possession set Nevada up with excellent field position. The Tigers wasted little time capitalizing on Central’s miscue, as Hinton connected with senior wide out Hunter Mason for a 45-yard touchdown strike.

Mason, an NCAA Division I signee, soared to make the circus catch, then outran Central’s secondary for the long score. Thorp’s chip shot extra point put the Tigers on top, 36-0, with 4:31 remaining in the first half.

Late in the first half the Tigers regained possession on a Tanner Gotshall interception, as Central had moved into the red zone. It didn’t take long for the Tigers to cash in, with senior tailback Shadden breaking off a 38-yard touchdown run. With the successful extra point the Nevada lead swelled to 43-0 at the half.

“Tanner did a good job of staying over the top,” noted Beachler of the junior free safety. “When the ball was thrown, he jumped the route, beat the receiver to the ball, and ran it back quite a ways.”

Added Beachler: “We gave Braxton the ball on a power play off-tackle, and he took it to the house on the first play.”

In the first half Hinton was 7-for-8 with 167 yards through the air, and a touchdown. The Tigers final score of the contest came at the 8:13 mark of the third quarter, with Shadden gashing the defense and rumbling in for the 42-yard score.

With Nevada’s varsity starters resting comfortably on the sidelines, Central tacked on a pair of late touchdown, coming up empty on the two-point conversion both times.

Beachler said he was pleased with the performance of Hinton under center.

“He’s getting better each week, making the right reads, and throwing to the right people,” said the veteran coach. And he’s a tremendous leader.”

Beachler continued: “I thought the offensive line played a lot better than they did last week. The caliber of the opponent wasn’t the same, but I thought we executed our blocks pretty well.”

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