Madison Central had an opportunity to take control early in a rematch of last year's region championship.
After a 55-yard run by Ashton Hulberg, the Indians had a first down on the Conner 1-yard line.
One play later, they fumbled the ball away.
"With such a young team, it would haven been interesting to see what that would have done --if we would have been able to get a touchdown," Central coach Mark Scenters said. "We had the momentum. We hit a couple of big plays. But, we didn't get it in."
That was the first of many missed opportunities.
Central committed four turnovers and were handed a 27-6 loss by the Cougars on Saturday during the Roy Kidd Bowl in Richmond. The Indians failed to convert on both their red zone chances and were only 4-of-13 on third-down attempts.
"You can't have turnovers against a well-coached team," Scenters said. "And we know they are a well-coached team. There were some times when we had a chance to make a play and we didn't. Then there were times when they had opportunities to make plays and they did. That's really what the game comes down to."
Central defeated Conner in double overtime last November in Richmond to win the program's first-ever region title.
The rematch turned out much differently.
The Indians lost 26 seniors from that team, while the Cougars also had many key performers graduate.
Conner, however, returned its starting quarterback. Senior Jared Hicks had two touchdowns in the playoff game - and he scored three more times in the season opener.
Hicks threw two TDs and rushed for another score. He completed 13-of-29 passes for 150 yards.
"He is very experienced. His knowledge of the offense is fantastic," Scenters said of Hicks. "He's the center of their offense for a reason. He gets the job done."
Central turned the ball over on its first two possessions on Friday. The Cougars missed a field goal, but took the lead on a 15-yard run by Hicks with 9:06 left in the second quarter.
Central answered back.
Junior running back Joe Burton broke loose for a 31-yard TD run. The extra point was blocked.
"We have the ability to be explosive," Scenters said of the Central offense. "We don't have the speed we had last year, but we have some speed in spots. We can get that speed in space and take advantage of it."
Hicks hit Justin Daniels on a 28-yard TD pass with 3:02 left to give the Cougars a 14-6 lead, which they took into halftime.
Central had a chance to cut into that advantage early in the third quarter .The Indians moved into red zone after a 33-yard catch from John Landsaw, but that possession resulted in a missed field goal.
Conner extended its lead to 21-6 on a 7-yard TD catch by Drew Seigmundt less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Colton Roy added a 17-yard TD run with 9:31 left in the game.
Canon Scenters made his first career varsity start. The Central quarterback had three interceptions - two in the fourth quarter. Scenters was 9-of-18 for 111 yards.
"It's part of the learning process," Scenters said. "He will get better."
Burton finished with 58 yards rushing, while Hulberg added 55 yards on the ground.
Zach Holbrook caught four passes for 59 yards and Landsaw had two catches for 48 yards.
The Indians finished with almost as many total yards as the Cougars (247-222) and had the ball for almost 25 minutes. Conner, however, did not commit a turnover.
"We were in the game the whole way. It got out of hand late. We are just going to stay positive and teach, teach, teach. We will get better," Scenters said.
Central is set to return to action Friday at Anderson County.