TREYNOR, Iowa — More than once, Treynor looked ready to make a memorable comeback on its sparkling new field.
Underwood rose to the occasion every time.
The Eagles lost the turnover battle 2-0 and barely outgained Treynor in total yardage. But they still found a way to leave the Cardinal Athletic Complex as 19-7 winners on a sweltering Friday evening.
Underwood attempted just two passes, relying on a tough ground game and a bend-don't-break defense to avenge last year's 34-12 loss to Treynor. Senior Adian McKee netted two touchdowns and wideout Mitch Forrester reeled in another as the visitors recovered from a quick 7-0 hole to score the game's final 19 points.
“We wanted to prove something to our crowd and to ourselves that we could play ball at this level,” Underwood coach Loren Lintner said. “They did.”
McKee, who got 12 varsity carries last year while mostly playing JV, said the Eagles felt they had plenty to prove in their steamy opener.
“I had to come off every couple (plays), and I just about threw up on the sidelines because of heatstroke,” McKee said. “There was a lot of heart out there.”
The defense certainly displayed some. After allowing a quick score, it forced four turnovers on downs, three punts and a missed field goal the rest of the way.
Leading just 13-7 midway through the third quarter, the Eagles induced a punt after a nine-play possession that was twice kept alive by third-down penalties (roughing the punter and pass interference).
After McKee's 3-yard touchdown sprint put his side up by 12 in the fourth, the Eagles made one last stand. Treynor hit Underwood senior quarterback Colton Bristow to force a fumble and moved 35 yards in eight plays to reach first and goal at the 1.
But a Cardinal fumble backed up the host squad to the 5. Underwood's secondary then knocked down two passes from quarterback Trey Robinson before stuffing the signal-caller at the 2 on a designed run play to all but ice the game.
Robinson, a junior, was cleared for practice only last week after recovering from an ankle injury suffered during baseball season.
“It's real frustrating,” Treynor coach Steve Owens said. “A lot of youth, a lot of new players with maturing and growing to do.
“All around we have to get better. Blocking by everybody; catching by everybody; throwing by everybody. We have to get better everywhere.”
Treynor began the game with a drive befitting its new home. Following an Underwood three-and-out, the Cardinals crafted a 13-play, 97-yard touchdown march to take an early lead. Robinson finished with a 6-yard keeper after he attempted just one pass on the possession.
Underwood didn't trail for long. It countered with a 12-play, 82-yard trek of its own. All but the last snap featured a rush, and then Bristow found Forrester on a short pass before the senior scampered into the end zone from 16 yards out for the equalizer.
After the ensuing Treynor possession fizzled at its own 38, the Eagles needed only four snaps to take their first lead. McKee started with a 12-yard run and ended with a 4-yard plunge across the goal to make it 13-7.
“I have to give it to the Treynor guys — they do have a really nice field here,” McKee said. “But once you get in a game zone, it all kind of goes away and you focus on what you're doing.”
Underwood outgained the hosts 254-241. The Cards' leading rusher, senior Dane Livengood, finished with 91 yards on 27 attempts.
“We played fast tonight,” Lintner said. “We got down and it didn't affect us this year. Hopefully we can play that way all year long.”
Underwood ............................ 7 6 0 6—19
At Treynor ............................ 7 0 0 0— 7
T: Trey Robinson 11 run (Ben Chapin kick)
U: Mitch Forrester 16 pass from Colton Bristow (Preston Jager kick)
U: Adian McKee 4 run (conversion failed)
U: McKee 3 run (conversion failed)
RUSHING: U, Adian McKee 23-128, Cody Kingery 9-64, Colton Bristow 4-9, Mitch Forrester 3-19, Alex Wade 1-4, Jarrett Waters 5-15, John Schnack 1-9, Team 2-(-10). T, Dane Livnegood 27-91, Kyle Young 2-20, Trey Robinson 9-6, Jacob Beard 1-11, Michael Fisher 1-(-1), Team 1-(-4).
PASSING: U, Bristow 1-2-0 16. T, Robinson 11-28-0 114.
RECEIVING: U, Forrester 1-16. T, Young 3-44, Livengood 3-29, Michael Fisher 2-11, Trevor Calfee 2-(-8), Cole Fiene 1-40.