Fans at Haskell's season football opener watched the Fightin' Indians play bend-but-don't-break defense for the most part.
However, when Haskell needed their defense to bend most, it broke and Iowa Lakes CC posted a 19-7 victory on Saturday at Haskell Stadium.
The Indians forced four turnovers on the afternoon, but couldn't stop the Lakers as they drove for the go-ahead touchdown with time running down in the fourth quarter.
Haskell coach Gary Tanner said the team's inexperience was partly to blame.
"We held strong, but then let them have several big plays at the end. I think what we saw today are a lot of things that happen with first-year kids," Tanner said.
Haskell jumped out to an early lead with an impressive 61-yard scoring drive in the first quarter. The Indians held the ball for over six minutes as they drove steadily into Lakers' territory.
Freshman quarterback Benny Bradbury then ran the ball in from seven yards out to put the Indians up 7-0.
That drive was a textbook example of how Tanner hopes his Haskell offense will mature this season, the coach said afterward.
"There were no penalties, and everybody did a good job. When you have 2nd-and-5 situations instead of 2nd-and-15, it makes a lot of difference in your play calling," he said.
Neither team's offense produced in the third quarter. Haskell had the ball in scoring position twice, but an interception killed one drive, and the other ended with a missed field goal.
Tanner thinks more experience will improve the offensive output.
"The things that kept us from winning are fixable," Tanner said. "We need to work on the fine-tuning of our execution."
Haskell's defense stepped up big on the Lakers' first two possessions of the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble and an interception to stop both drives.
But the Indians' offense stalled, and the Lakers drove 76 yards in just over two minutes to take a 12-7 lead.
The final touchdown came after Haskell gave up the ball on downs deep in its own territory.
"They did great for three-and-a-half quarters," Tanner said of his team, "but a couple of things happened in critical situations that were just tough to overcome."
The Indians will play host to Mid-America Nazarene JV on Thursday night, and Tanner said he expects to see progress.
"We're getting our techniques down, that was evident today, but we need to focus on learning how to win," he said.
Iowa Lakes CC 19, Haskell 7
Iowa Lakes 0 6 0 13 -- 19
Haskell 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Haskell -- Bradbury 7 run. Gaines kick.
Iowa Lakes -- Paul 1 run. Kick failed.
Iowa Lakes -- Jansen 22 pass from Cole. Pass failed.
Iowa Lakes -- Doland 16 run. Weaver kick.