Haskell Indian Nations University's youth showed throughout Saturday night's 2006 season opener.
Penalties, dropped passes and the inability to stop the run all contributed to a 27-6 defeat to Peru (Neb.) State at Haskell Stadium.
With the exception of their lone scoring drive, the Indians (0-1) were unable to get into any offensive rhythm, and allowed the Bobcats to chew up the clock, via the use of a trio of running backs.
"Peru had a great game plan," HINU coach Eric Brock said. "They pounded us. We are going to learn a lot from this film in how our chess pieces look and who performed and who didn't."
Haskell, which started freshman Marlon Dick at quarterback and freshman Bubba Wills at running back, appeared to have jitters in the season debut for both schools.
"It is a tough loss, especially since it was on the home field," Dick said.
Peru State got on the board first, midway through the second quarter. Sophomore running back Cody Smith broke two tackles en route to his 14-yard touchdown scamper. He finished with 104 yards on 20 carries.
"Our linebackers are pretty young, so we need to make sure that we slow him down," Brock said of Smith. "We fixed it a little in the second half, but they kept running and he is a special kid."
The Bobcat offense was also helped by the rushing ability of Lynn Meyer and Mike Mertens, who combined for more than 100 yards and a touchdown.
HINU would get all the way to the Peru State 6-yard line after the Bobcats' first scoring drive, but an offensive pass interference call backed up the Indians 15 yards. Kicker Matt Martens had his 38-yard field-goal attempt partially blocked, ending that scoring threat.
It didn't take long for Peru State (1-0) to take control after halftime, with the Bobcats needing less than two minutes in the third quarter to score again. Once again it was Smith taking it to the end zone, this time on a 30-yard run. Smith took the carry to the right side and quickly beat all of the HINU defenders within the first 5 yards of the run, resulting in an easy touchdown.
Peru State would score later in the quarter on a 19-yard pass by Derek Falor to Jared Gerdes on a post route. Gerdes cut to the left side of the field and had his man beat, and Falor put the throw right in his hands to put the Bobcats up, 20-0.
Haskell would cut the score to 20-6 four minutes into the fourth quarter on the Indians' most efficient drive of the night. Dick showed his potential on the drive, hitting five of his seven passes for 61 yards. He connected with Hunter Smith in the back of the end zone from 9 yards out.
"It seemed like his passes were there," Brock said of Dick's performance on the night. "I didn't think he lost the game for us. He didn't win the game obviously for us."
However, that score would be the closest the Indians would come, their offense reverting back to the form it showed all night while failing to get a first down the rest of the evening.
Peru State added a meaningless touchdown with two minutes remaining to close out the scoring.
Brock said the loss was not critical and his team has the ability to rebound.
"We have a full season left to play," Brock said. "When you are 8-1 or 9-1, this game will be long forgotten."
The Indians have a bye week before returning to action with a road trip Sept. 9 to South Dakota Tech.