MURRAY — Murray’s fast start was the biggest difference in its 64-40 victory over Colo-Nesco here Monday night, but arguably the biggest play of the game came in the third quarter, after the Royals had just cut Murray’s lead to 30-16, making it a two-possession game.
Colo-Nesco started the half with the ball, trailing 30-8. On the second play of the Royals’ drive, senior running back Adam Lytle took the ball off the right side for a 58-yard touchdown.
Senior quarterback Brandyn Neimeyer carried the ball up the middle for the 2-point conversion, making it a 30-16 ballgame with 11:34 remaining in the third quarter.
Neimeyer then kicked a squib kick, which Murray senior Devin Shields jumped up to corrall. After gathering the ball, Shields side-stepped one defender and then ran right up the gut before swinging wide toward the sideline, running the ball 54 yards for a touchdown.
“That may have been the play of the game right there,” head coach Keith Shields said. “We talked about it at halftime, that they get the ball and we want to try and shut them down the first possession, because if they score, the momentum’s on their side.
“Devin Shields returned that kick and that was an unbelievable play. It really shifted the momentum back to our side, not that they didn’t come back and score again. But, it picked our sideline back up was the key thing it did. It gave us back a three-score lead.”
The Royals answered immediately as Neimeyer ran the ensuing kickoff 62 yards for a score, scoring the third touchdown of the half in just :50 of play.
Murray quickly answered yet again, however, as Austin Halls ran the ball three straight plays and scored on a 3-yard run, giving the Mustangs a 44-22 lead with 10:25 left in the quarter.
Fueled by the return of senior tight end Cody Scroggie from an ankle injury, the Mustang offense jumped out to another quick start.
While it wasn’t the zero to 60 start in a matter of seconds like in the opening-round win over Twin Cedars, Murray still held a big early lead.
Thanks to three touchdown passes from Halls to Scroggie, the Mustangs held a 22-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Halls-Scroggie connection hooked up one more time in the first half, scoring from 13-yards out to give Murray a 30-0 lead with 5:04 remaining in the half.
Scroggie finished the game with seven catches for 141 yards and four scores.
“We jumped out, played well defensively as well,” Shields said. “A couple long passes there to Cody Scroggie. It was one of those things, we didn’t know if he’d be able to go all week, and he just makes a difference stretching the field for us, and Austin made a couple good throws out there.”
Even though the Royals scored 40 points on Murray, Shields was pleased with the defensive effort, knowing that Neimeyer is one of the best runners his team has faced all season.
“Brandyn Neimeyer, the last two games had run for over 600 yards,” Shields said. “Coach Baker and Coach Eckels did some nice things making adjustments from when we played them the first time. The guys up front executed it really well. George Barber, I don’t know how many tackles he was in on in the backfield, but some of that was due to the adjustments we made.”
Barber finished the game with 12 total tackles, including a team-high four for loss.
“Our defensive front did a fantastic job of plugging gaps,” Shields said. “Our guys stayed disciplined and stayed home and did a nice job tonight. I thought that was the key to the game there, especially early.”
With the win, Murray (11-0) advances to the quarterfinal round where the Mustangs will host Adair-Casey (10-1) in yet another rematch.
That game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday at Mustang Stadium.
Murray won the first matchup 64-26 back on Sept. 21. Adair-Casey advanced to the rematch with a 52-20 win at H-L-V, Victor.
Murray 64, Colo-Nesco 40
Colo-Nesco 0 6 22 12 - 40
Murray 22 8 28 6 - 64
M — Cody Scroggie 67 pass from Austin Halls (Sam Rockhold pass from Halls), 11:04
M — Scroggie 24 pass from Halls (Scroggie pass from Halls), 7:41
M — Scroggie 4 pass from Halls (2-pt. failed), 4:32
M — Scroggie 13 pass from Halls (S. Rockhold from Halls), 5:04
C — Tyler Erickson fumble recovery in end zone (Brandyn Neimeyer run), 1:00
C — Adam Lytle 58 run (Neimeyer run), 11:34
M — Devin Shields 54 kickoff return (Corey McCracken from Halls), 11:22
C — Neimeyer 62 kickoff return (2-pt. failed), 11:10
M — Halls 3 run (2-pt. failed), 10:25
C — Erickson 53 run (2-pt. failed), 7:02
M — Seth Nerness 23 run (Scroggie from Halls), 4:47
M — Halls 77 run (2-pt. failed), :02
C — Neimeyer 22 run (2-pt. failed), 7:48
M — Nerness 11 run (2-pt. failed), 2:41
C — Neimeyer 24 run (no attempt), :00
Rushing: C - Brandyn Neimeyer 36-211, Adam Lytle 17-85, Tyler Erickson 2-52, Dustan Curran 1-(-2). M - Austin Halls 13-191, Seth Nerness 20-152, Corey McCracken 3-16, Sam Rockhold 1-7.
Passing: C - Neimeyer 3-8-1 for 88 yards. M - Halls 13-24-1 for 193 yards.
Receiving: C - Erickson 3-88. M - Cody Scroggie 7-161, Nerness 3-23, Rockhold 2-6, McCracken 1-3.
Tackles (solo-assists): M - George Barber (7-5), RayDean Burdess (5-5), Rockhold (3-6), Eddie Otto (6-2), Nerness (3-4), Halls (5-1).
Tackles for loss: M - Barber 4, Rockhold 2.
Interceptions: M - Halls 1.