NORWALK — On a very hot August night, Newton Senior High’s Cardinals turned in a solid performance against host Norwalk High’s Warriors. The outcome wasn’t what the Cardinals, their coaches and fans wanted — a 19-13 loss in overtime.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals established their running game with the new gun-rocket offense. They had six players carry the football as the team rushed for 245 yards against a solid Norwalk defense.
Newton’s defense made a statement early, forcing a fumble and recovering the football on the opening possession of the game. The Cardinals made the Warriors punt five straight possessions.
“I’m disappointed that these kids didn’t get the win tonight. They fought and fought. They were playing in the most difficult environments, weather-wise, I’ve seen while coaching at this school since 1986,” said Ed Ergenbright, Newton head coach.
“Our defense was awesome. We were doing things well on offense from the beginning that we wanted to do until we got fatigued and started losing some of our starting players to the conditions.”
Newton senior linebacker Will Brock hit Norwalk’s junior running back Cory Harding, dislodging the football. Cardinal defensive back Colton Hansen, a senior, recovered the football at Norwalk’s 37-yard line with 10:29 left in the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Tyler Wood connected with junior wide receiver Nick Easley for an eight-yard pass play. Wood picked up three yards running then on the next play, handed the ball off to junior tailback Deonne Harris, who was tackled at the Warrior 12-yard line.
Tristan Peters, another junior running back, gained nine yards to the one-yard line. The Cardinals gave the ball to senior fullback Ray Schroder, who plowed over for the one-yard touchdown.
Grant Davidson added the extra-point kick to put the Cardinals up 7-0 with 7:58 left in the first period. Three plays later, Norwalk was punting the ball back to Newton.
Harris broke loose for a 55-yard run to the Norwalk nine-yard line. Peters powered forward for eight more then sophomore Joseph Banfield went right up the middle for the touchdown from one yard out.
Norwalk blocked the extra-point attempt, leaving it 13-0. Newton was on the move again offensively but stalled out at the Norwalk 31-yard line with 11:06 on the clock in the second quarter. The Cardinals attempted a field goal but came up short.
A Cardinal fumble gave the Warriors the ball at the Newton 41 with 4:06 left in the first half. The Cardinal defense held. Junior defensive end Jordan Travis sacked Norwalk freshman quarterback Brady Brandsfield. Norwalk’s long field goal attempt failed.
Unfortunately, the hot, humid conditions Friday night took its toll. Harris, who had 80 yards on four carries for Newton, was sidelined with cramping. Peters finished with 64 yards on 15 carries and Wood had 56 yards on 15 carries.
“Effort-wise, these kids played off the charts,” Ergenbright said.
The teams had back-to-back fumbles midway through the third quarter. On a fourth-and-four play at the Newton 39-yard line, senior linebacker Nick Glotfelty sacked Brandsfield.
Newton appeared to be going in for a touchdown late in the third period. The Cardinals fumbled the football and the Warriors recovered it on their own six-yard line on the final play of the quarter.
The Cardinal defense held, but a punt changed field position. At the 10:43 mark, Caleb Klocko let loose a 66-yard punt from his own end zone. Newton had the football but was at its own 23.
A five-yard penalty set the Cardinals back and despite 11 yards on two carries by J.T. Thongvahn, the Cardinals had to punt the ball. The punt was returned to the Newton 49 plus a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Cardinals set the Warriors up.
Norwalk scored 13 points in the final 8:30 of regulation, including the tying touchdown and extra-point kick at the 1:15 mark of the fourth quarter. It was a fourth-and-12 play at the Newton 39-yard line.
Norwalk’s Brandsfield scrambled away from Newton defenders and found junior wide receiver Luke Greenslade all alone for the touchdown reception. Daniel Obley, who had missed a PAT kick earlier, was perfect to forge the tie.
“Our defense did a great job against the run tonight. The last two years, this team (Norwalk) has run the ball right down our throats,” Ergenbright said. “They hit that little cross play to tie the game. Our execution was as crisp late. We were shuffling players into positions on offense that they hadn’t had a lot of practice at — and they did a good job — but it shrinks your playbook a bit.”
The Warriors had gotten on the scoreboard earlier behind the running of junior Jesse Cowie. Cowie broke two tackles on his way to a nine-yard touchdown run with 5:56 left.
Newton got the ball back at its 20-yard line with 1:15 remaining in the game.
“We were looking to hit something big, possibly getting into field goal range. If that didn’t happen, we just wanted to run it down and go to overtime,” Ergenbright said.
On the second play of the possession, the Cardinals were awarded 15 yards on a pass interference call against the Warriors. They couldn’t get much further down field and punted on the final play of regulation.
Newton won the toss in overtime and chose defense. Each team gets an opportunity on offense from the 10-yard line in overtime.
Norwalk scored on the second down — a 10-yard pass play from Brandsfield to senior Neil Hanson. It was a quick toss out in the flat and Hanson slipped past a Cardinal defender to get to the end zone. Obley’s kick was no good, leaving the door open for the Cardinals.
Unfortunately, a pitch from Wood to Peters went awry. Newton recovered the football, but lost four yards. Peters gained the four back on second down. Wood’s pass to Easley came up short on the third down. A fourth-down pass went incomplete and the game was over with the Warriors winning.
Wood was 2 of 13 passing, both to Easley, for 19 yards. He threw one interception.
Brock led the Cardinal defense with nine solo stops and three assists. Glotfelty racked up five solo tackles and five assisted tackles, plus three of his tackles were for losses. Levi Michener, senior safety, had five solo tackles while Schroder had four solos and three assisted tackles. Hansen had four solo tackles. Schroder and Hansen each recovered a fumble.
“If we continue to play defense like this every Friday night, we’re gong to win games. Our offense is right there,” Ergenbright said.
Ryan Thompson punted six times for 227 yards, a 38-yard average. Davidson attempted field goals from 49 and 50 yards out.
The Cardinals have their home opener this Friday against Knoxville.
Newton — 13-0-0-0-0—13
Norwalk — 0-0-0-13-6—19
Newton — Schroder 1 yd run (Davidson kick)
Newton — Banfield 1 yd run (kick blocked)
Norwalk — Cowie 9 yd run (kick failed)
Norwalk — Greenslade 39-yd pass from Brandsfield (Obley kick)
Norwalk — Hansen 10-yd pass from Brandsfield (kick failed)
Rushing: Newton- Harris 4-80, Peters 15-72, Wood 15-61, Banfield 8-44, Thongvanh 7-16, Schroder 1-1. Norwalk-Harding 24-107, Johnston 10-28, Cowie 6-16, Greenslade 1-2, Brandsfield 4-2.
Passing: Newton-Wood 2-13-19-1. Norwalk-Brandsfield 10-21-122-0.
Receiving: Newton-Easley 2-19. Norwalk-Hanson 8-72, Greenslade 2-50.
Punting: Newton-Thompson 6-227 (38-yd avg.). Norwalk-C. Klocko-8-291 (36-yd avg.).
Tackles (solos/assists): Brock, 9/3; Glotfelty, 5/5; Allen 5/0; Schroder 4/3; Michener 5/0; Weatherly 4/2; Hansen 4/1; Travis 3/1; Stanton 3/1; Thongvanh 2/0; Thompson 1/2; McCormick 1/0; Harris 1/0; Peters 1/0; Tish 0/1; Anderson 0/1.
Quarterback sacks: Glotfelty, 1; Travis, 1.
Fumble recoveries: Schroeder, 1; Hansen, 1.