Cody quarterback Hunter Hays said all week the team had talked about avoiding bricks of adversity.
Friday night those bricks turned into early fumbles.
The Cody football team overcame early turnovers and an early deficit to defeat the Red Devils 21-6 and hold on to a perfect season record Friday in Evanston.
“I thought we overcame adversity very well,” Hays said. “We talked all week about dodging bricks of adversity thrown at us and we did that pretty well.”
Broncs running back Nic Talich scored the first of two touchdowns with under three minutes in the second quarter that, combined with a Jackson Gail PAT, turned a 6-0 deficit into a 7-6 lead that Cody (5-0) would grow in the second half to seal the win.
Talich led the way with 101 yards rushing and the two scores, while Nathan Wilson added a late touchdown run. The Broncs finished with more than 300 total yards, 273 of those on the ground. Hays finished 6-of-11 for 41 yards passing.
Cody held Evanston to 113 yards offense, but hurt itself with seven penalties in addition to the turnovers.
“We had made mistakes allowing them to score,” lineman Jeff Williams said. “We just stopped making poor mistakes.”
Early on, neither team could avoid multiple mistakes. Cody finished with three fumbles, all lost, and Evanston five, two lost.
“Every year there is one game that is an ugly win, I hope this was ours,” coach Matt McFadden said. “I would rather win ugly than lose pretty. Hats off to Evanston who played very hard. They have been in every game this year … and are close to pulling one off.”
The Red Devils (0-5) capitalized on the Broncs’ first lost fumble inside their 10-yard line, turning it into a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter.
The Broncs’ first three drives ended with a pair of lost fumbles and a turnover on downs.
In the second quarter Cody finished a nearly 100-yard drive with Talich’s 5-yard run. Gail made all three of his PATs, but the first proved to be the crucial point.
“We went 99 yards for a score and that changed the momentum,” Hays said. “The (offensive linemen) put their heads down and got us where we needed to go.”
Talich finished a 92-yard drive in the third quarter with another touchdown run to put Cody ahead 14-6.
“We played a poor first half, but we came out and played our level of football in the second half,” Williams said. “We focused on not holding onto the fumbles and just letting those plays go and moving into the next one.
“We were better than them the entire time, we just had to adjust our level of play.”
The Broncs recovered another Red Devils fumble in the fourth and, after a number of runs by Matt Sandoval to move down the field, Wilson scored from 3 yards out for Cody’s third and final score midway through the fourth.
Sandoval cut short Evanston’s next drive with an interception, effectively sealing the win.
Quarterback David Baxter led Evanston with 68 yards on 6-of-10 passing.
Chaz Cowie added 52 yards rushing for Cody and Sandoval tallied 48 yards.
“We didn’t start well but I was proud of the way we finished,” McFadden said. “It was not our best game and lots of room for improvement, but the kids fought through and found a way to make us 5-0.”
Cody hosts Powell at 7 p.m. Friday at Spike Vannoy Stadium. Powell was the No. 5-ranked team in Class 3A going into Friday night. Cody was ranked second behind Star Valley. Last year the Broncs defeated the Panthers 22-10 in Powell.