SPENCER - Costly turnovers on the offensive side, and a rash of injuries on the defensive side, cost the Class 2A Cherokee Braves dearly here Friday night in a season-opening 35-27 setback at the hands of 3A Spencer's Tigers.
That Cherokee offense lit up the Tigers for impressive numbers, but they weren't enough as the Braves patched-up defensive line could not keep Spencer out of the end zone when it counted most in the second half.
Cherokee sophomore quarterback Tyler Jones completed 26-39 passes in the game for 401 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw three costly interceptions in the Braves' passing offense.
Chris Campbell led the Braves receiving corps with eight catches for 228 yards and all four TDs, while Michael Boothby grabbed eight catches for 103 yards, Josh Mugge three for 27, Mark Johnson four for 14, and Matt Koch two for 14.
Spencer led 7-6 after one quarter, and nursed a 21-19 halftime lead, before outscoring the Braves 14-8 in the second half.
The ground-oreinted Tigers rushed 63 times for 270 yards and five touchdowns, with Eric Norgaard leading the way with 26 hauls for 128 yards.
Several Braves had outstanding nights on the defensive end, with Mugge leading the way with 14 tackles, followed by Nick Daum 11, Nick Loughlin 10, Tim Jones eight, Ben George eight, and Matthew Boothby seven.
"We had too many injuries late in the game in the defensive line to stop their rushing attack," said Cherokee coach Tony Napierala. "A couple costly mistakes on offense prevented us from scoring a couple times."
Cherokee plays one more non-district game Friday, hosting 3A Storm Lake in the annual "Battle Axe" game.