Aidan Freeman kicked a 36-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give a Nevada team ranked fifth in Class 3A a dramatic, 25-22 victory over Gilbert in the Class 3A District 2 opener for both teams Friday at Gilbert.
Freeman's field goal came after Nevada marched from its own 15 to the Tiger 19. The Cubs had their fourth successful fourth-down conversion of the game to keep the drive alive and set up Freeman's kick.
The victory put Nevada at 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the district. Gilbert gave a gutsy effort in falling to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the district.
"That's a really good football team and we're a really good football team," Gilbert head coach Graham Lundt said. "Obviously we want to be on the other side of the scoreboard, but our guys play freaking hard."
Here is what we learned from Nevada's exciting victory:
Aidan Freeman's clutch leg gives Nevada the win
Nevada put together a 66-yard drive to set up Freeman's winning field goal. He stepped up, got his leg into the ball and sent it over the cross bar with 30.6 seconds left.
"I have a lot of time to think about it when I'm down there by myself, but it was a really good snap and a really good hold," Freeman said. "They were both perfect and I hit it well. I don't get to kick a lot of field goals, so it feels good to have one that means that much."
Nevada tied the game at 22-22 with four minutes left in the third quarter to set up the dramatic finish.
Cason Stevenson returned from injury to spark the Nevada backfield. He scored the tying touchdown on a 21-yard run.
"It felt good," Stevenson said. "The two past games I was on the sidelines supporting my teammates. It just felt really good to be back and get back to rhythm with the boys."
The Cubs are happy where they're at heading into another rivalry game next week at home against Ballard.
"Gilbert is a heck of a team — they're a lot better than they were last year," Nevada quarterback Noah Mills said. "At the end of the day it feels good to come out with a win. Great start to district play."
Gilbert shows its potential
Gilbert led 22-15 at the half. The Tigers took advantage of a bobbled snap on fourth down to block a Nevada punt and set up their first touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Owen Kautman completed the 11-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run as Gilbert took an early 8-0 lead.
Nevada evened the score on a 4-yard Noah Mills touchdown run and a successful 2-point pass, but Gilbert came right back on a 64-yard Nash Hanson kickoff return for a touchdown. Another Cub big play, this time a 52-yard scoring pass from Mills to Drew Robinson, tied the score again at 15-15, but with 1:39 left in the half Kautman hooked up with Owen Wirth on a 24-yard touchdown pass to put Gilbert on top heading into the break.
The Tigers played outstanding physical football in defeat. They suffered their second straight close loss to a top-10 3A team after falling to No. 10 Creston in a 39-36 battle last week.
Lundt said the wins will come and he is pleased with the direction his team is heading.
"We're missing the boat a little bit, but we'll get on there and boy we play hard," Lundt said. "They've got a really nice team, but we'll keep working. I will guarantee you the winner of our district won't go undefeated. Everything we still want is still right in front of us. I couldn't be more proud of our guys."
Gilbert will play at Algona next week.
Nevada 25, Gilbert 22
Nevada 8 7 7 3 — 25
Gilbert 15 7 0 0 — 22
Individual statistical leaders
Rushing: Nevada — Cason Stevenson 30-177. Gilbert — Will Hawthorne 6-15.
Passing: Nevada — Noah Mills 9-14-0-115. Gilbert — Owen Kautman 10-15-1-106.
Receiving: Nevada — Drew Robinson 2-68. Gilbert — Owen Wirth 5-55.
Tackles: Nevada — Dylan Fritz 5.5. Gilbert — Hawthorne 10.5.
Sacks: Nevada — Jackson Burlage 1. Gilbert — Hawthorne 1.
Fumble recoveries: Nevada — Carson Mather 1.
Interceptions: Nevada — Kyle Kingsbury 1.
This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Nevada holds off Gilbert in 3A District 2 football thriller, 25-22