TAMA — Happy to leave Tama with a 22-19 victory, and happy for his players’ ability to find a way to win the Class 3A, District 4 game, but Newton Senior High head coach Ed Ergenbright knows his team has to become better.
One way to get better is to get everybody healthy, so they can play in the game, but more importantly practice.
“That’s the kind of game you play when you have lots of players out of practice all week long, then you try to execute on Friday night,” Ergenbright said after Friday’s game. “I knew it was going to be that way, but we have kids that are hurt. We tried to keep them out of practice to be able to play the game.
“We looked out of kilter. We moved people around to fill spots. We just didn’t look sharp.”
Ergenbright said he was pleased the Cardinals came through on a not-so-good night to post a win on the road against a South Tama Trojan team that was “ready to play.”
After falling behind 19-14, the Cardinals stopped the Trojans and forced a punt — a short punt. The Cardinal offense set up shop at the South Tama 43-yard line with 9:15 left in the game.
J.T. Thongvanh, who led the Cardinals with 51 yards on 11 carries, picked up 20 of those on a second down run to the Trojan 23-yard line.Tyler Wood rushed for five yards, then Thongvanh plowed down to the 11-yard line.
Newton’s Tristan Peters came around the end for four yards. Wood threw back across the field to Nick Easley, who went up and brought down the football for a seven-yard touchdown play. The Cardinals decided to go for two points following the touchdown. They gave it to Thongvanh, who went behind his blockers for the conversion.
“I love giving the ball to J.T. because he’s the fastest guy on the team and probably runs the hardest. He finds a way to get positive yardage,” said Wood. “Nick is my go-to guy. He’s one of the most athletic kids on the team. He goes and gets every ball I throw his way. It’s nice to have one of those type of receivers.”
Wood was 15-of-25 passing for 132 yards, plus he ran for 37 yards on 16 carries. Easley made nine catches for 78 yards.
Leading 22-19, the Cardinal defense had to come up with stops of the Trojan offense. The Trojans had two one-play drives in the third quarter to take the lead.
“We were struggling the whole game. We came together at the end and found a way to win,” said Will Brock, senior linebacker and offensive lineman. “We just knew we needed to get a stop.”
Another long pass play to Tyler Martens put South Tama at the Newton 32-yard line. Newton held Trojan running back Bo Blocker to no gain. Dalton Doyle’s next two passes were incomplete, the second one knocked away by Newton’s Jeff Stanton.
The Trojans went for it on fourth-and-10. The pass was complete, but the play came up inches short.
Wood ran right up the middle for 14 yards and seven yards to move the ball for Newton. The Cardinals moved into Trojan territory before bogging down. With 1:50 on the clock, Ryan Thompson’s punt rolled dead at the South Tama six-yard line. Unfortunately, the Cardinals drew a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Doyle connected twice with Tristan Beyer to move the Trojans to mid-field. A short pass to Blocker turned into a 43-yard gain to Newton’s eight-yard line.
The Cardinals made another defensive stand. Blocker got one yard then Doyle’s next two passes were incomplete, one tipped at the line of scrimmage. Following a timeout, Adrian Castanon attempted a 23-yard field goal, which sailed wide right, giving the football back to the Cardinals and the win to Newton.
It was not the first time in the game that Newton’s defense held. On the first drive of the game, defensive lineman Troy Exley knocked down a fourth-down pass by Doyle at the Newton 39-yard line.
Exley had four solo tackles, two were for losses. Brock made four solo stops and one assisted tackle. Colton Hansen led the defense with eight solo stops and one assisted tackle, plus two pass deflections.
The Cardinals marched 71 yards on nine plays to score a touchdown. The drive started with a pass to Easley for 20 yards. It continued on a fourth-down pass play to Deonne Harris followed by another pass to Easley to the 10-yard line.
Thongvanh capped the drive on back-to-back runs of six and four yards, respectively, for the touchdown. A bad snap prevented a successful extra-point kick, leaving Newton up 6-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Blocker broke loose up the field on the return. Daquan Allen hit Blocker forcing a fumble, which Newton’s Jordan Travis recovered at the Cardinal 43-yard line at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter.
Allen finished with six unassisted tackles and a pass deflection. Levi Michener made five solo tackles and three assisted tackles for the Cardinal defense. Nick Glotfelty had five solo stops
Thongvanh, Wood and Joseph Banfield gained yards on runs, and Wood found Easley for eight yards on a pass play. Banfield hauled in a 14-yard pass on fourth down. Easley hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass from Wood on the second play of the second quarter. Wood tossed a two-point conversion pass to Harris.
“We kind of just settle and think we’ve got it made when we get a lead,” Wood said. “We’re happy with where we are instead of keep doing what’ve we’ve been doing. We have to get better playing hard — both on offense and defense — for a full four quarters.”
Newton’s defense turned away another South Tama scoring threat at the Newton 13-yard line with 7:25 left in the first half. The Trojans marched 60 yards on 11 plays to score with 1:52 on the clock — an eight-yard run by Jerry Lowe.
It was 14-7 at halftime.
Neither team made much happen offensively through the first half of the third quarter. South Tama got a 45-yard touchdown run from Lowe with 6:50 on the clock, but Castanon’s kick failed. Newton led 14-13.
Two minutes later, the Trojans gained the lead. Doyle hooked up with Dylan Kalinay on a 60-yard touchdown pass play. The Trojans tried a two-point conversion run. Newton’s defense denied it. South Tama was up 19-14.
Newton made a drive toward the end of the third quarter, which came up short. Two penalties set the Cardinals back and a fourth-down pass fell short. That’s when the defense held Lowe in check twice and a pass to Blocker was dropped.
That set up the final touchdown march by the Cardinals in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve had so many injuries along the line. We’ve battling and finding a way to come together,” Brock said of the Cardinal offensive line.
Newton improved to 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in Class 3A, District 4 play. The Cardinals are at home this Friday against Grinnell, which lost to Dallas Center-Grimes 21-14 last Friday.
“We have to get better. We have things to fix,” said Ergenbright of his team.
Newton — Thongvanh 4 yd run (PAT failed)
Newton — Easley 5 yd pass from Wood (Harris pass from Wood)
South Tama — Lowe 8 yd run (Castanon kick)
South Tama — Lowe 45 yd run (kick failed)
South Tama — Kalinay 60 yd pass from Doyle (run failed)
Newton — Easley 7 yd pass from Wood (Thongvanh run)
14 First Downs 16
6-35 Penalties-yds 1-5
Rushing: Newton-Thongvanh 11-51, Wood 16-37, Harris 8-34, Banfield 1-10, Peters 4-1. South Tama-Blocker 16-83, Lowe 7-73, Craun 2-3, Doyle 5-13.
Passing: Newton-Wood 15-25-132-0. South Tama-Doyle 12-25-246-0.
Receiving: Newton-Easley 9-78, Banfield 2-28, Harris 2-16, Davidson 1-10, Peters 1-0. South Tama-Kalinay 2-99, Blocker 4-89, Martens 3-36, Craun 1-6, Beyer 2-16.
Punting: Newton-Thompson 6-248 (41.3 yd avg.). South Tama-Hoskey 2-61 (36.5 yd avg.), Doyle 1-11 (11 yd avg.)
Tackles (solos/assisted): Allen 6/0; Brook 4/1; Exley 4/0; Glotfelty 5/0; Hansen 8/1; Lee 1/0; McCormick 1/0; Michener 5/3: Schroder 1/1: Stanton 1/0; Travis 2/2; Wood 1/0.
Fumble recoveries: Travis, 1.