THORNTON — Being that their first game was in late August, Nederland football players weren’t expecting to encounter an Ice storm.
But that’s exactly what happened Saturday night at Five Star Stadium, as the Panthers were unable to fend off the efforts of Cornerstone Christian quarterback Evan Ice in a 26-7 season-opening loss.
Ice rushed for 251 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another. He turned in the game-breaking play just as it appeared the teams were bound for a scoreless first half.
The 6-foot-1 senior was nearly sacked near his own 15-yard line before escaping and darting down the right sideline for a 77-yard touchdown run a mere 50 seconds before intermission.
“What a play. Holden (Reecer) has him nailed in the backfield,” said Nederland coach Aaron Jones, whose team dressed only 18 players. “He pulled his wristband off, and there goes the guy. That kid’s a heck of a player.”
Ice then capped Cornerstone Christian’s lengthy drive to begin the second half with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Zach Sheppard. The Bulldogs recovered the ensuing on-side kick, and Ice froze out the Panthers with a 5-yard TD run to make it 20-0.
“You have to bite that guy’s ankles to get him down,” Reecer said. Nederland averted the shutout when sophomore linebacker Patrick Parker picked off Ice and returned it for a 5-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, It was a frustrating opener for the Panthers, who were the victims of three successful on-side kicks all together, once punted on third down, and were called “Neederland” by the public-address announcer.
“We’re snake-bitten,” Jones said. “My kicker has turf toe, my starting safety (Wyatt Wales) got injured at practice Friday, and we had a soccer player out there in T.J. Bolt who was playing his first ever football game.”
There were positives, as the Panthers defense held on downs three times inside their own territory while still scoreless. Reecer played a beast of a game at linebacker, adding a first-half interception of Ice to his numerous tackles.
Reecer also had his moments carrying the ball. The former guard gained 42 yards on 10 carries. T.J. Bolt and Adam O’Melia each logged runs of more than 20 yards, and freshman quarterback Michael Wood was composed despite some struggles.
“We had some cramps and some little muscle things that slowed us down after that long run,” Reecer said. “But we’re going to win next week.”
The Panthers drove to the Cornerstone Christian 3 early in the fourth but were stopped on downs. That preceded Parker’s pick-six.
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CORNERSTONE CHRISTIAN 26, NEDERLAND 7
At Five Star Stadium
Nederland (0-1) X0 0 0 7 — 7
Cornerstone Christian (1-0) 0 6 14 6 — 26
Cornerstone Christian — Evan Ice 77 run (pass failed).
Cornerstone Christian — Zach Sheppard 25 pass from Ice (run failed).
Cornerstone Christian — Ice 5 run (Sheppard pass from Ice).
Nederland — Patrick Parker 5 interception return (Dillon Weaver kick).
Cornerstone Christian — Ice 4 run (pass failed).
First downs 8 16
Rushes-yards 31-116 42-334
Passing yards 17 44
Comp-Att-Int 3-15-0 5-18-2
Punts-Avg. 6-36.2 1-25.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 6-50 10-60
RUSHING — Nederland: Reecer 10-42, O’Melia 7-44, Bolt 6-28, Ridnell 2-2, Wood 6-0; Cornerstone Christian: Ice 28-251, Holder 14-83.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Nederland: Wood 3-14-0, 17yards, Reecer 0-1-0, 0 yards; Cornerstone Christian: Ice 5-18-2, 44 yards.
RECEIVING — Nederland: O’Melia 1-14, Weaver 1-3, Ridnell 1-0; Cornerstone Christian: Durrill 3-19, Sheppard 2-25.