NEWTON — As the victory bell was ringing, juniors Nick Easley and Deonne Harris talked about the intensity staying at a high level throughout the four quarters Friday night for Newton’s Cardinals.
“We came out with more intensity tonight. We practiced hard all week. This something we have to maintain to keep doing well,” Harris said.
“The difference tonight? Our intensity. We kept it up the whole game,” Easley said.
Both players scored twice for the Cardinals in a 45-28 win over visiting Adel DeSoto Minburn (4-3) in a non-district game. It was a game in which the Cardinals set the tone early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead, and never trailed.
Easley made NHS history catching two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Tyler Wood. Easley is one touchdown catch away from tying the school mark for most touchdown passes in a season. The catch at the 9-minute mark in the second quarter Friday night was his seventh.
Wood continued his ascent in NHS passing history. Wood became the first Cardinal quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in one game. The four scoring tosses pushed Wood’s school-career touchdown pass number to 19. He also tied the school record for most touchdown passes in a season at 11, joining Jon Dlough (2003).
Harris had a break-out game against the Tigers. Harris got to the edge and rushed for 159 yards on 19 carries for the Cardinals. Harris scored twice in the second half. The first one capped an 80-yard answer-drive by the Cardinals. Harris went 24 yards for the touchdown on a fourth-and-two play.
Harris’ second touchdown pushed the Cardinal lead to 45-28 with 4:27 left in the game. Newton used six minutes to go 65 yards on 12 plays — all on the ground — against ADM to stretch its lead back out to 19 points.
“Our run blocking was really good tonight. I give a lot of credit to our offensive line coach and the guys who play up front,” said Ed Ergenbright, Cardinal head coach. The Cardinals amassed 509 yards of total offense, and 358 yards came on 60 carries.
Mason Bowes, Jake Huizenga, Derek Wrage, Will Brock and Alex Bartels did the work along the offensive line of scrimmage for the Cardinals.
“Mason knew he didn’t play well last week and wanted to prove he could play better. He did. Jake and Derek are seniors who really get the job done up front. Will — well, what can you say about Will. He is all over the field on defense and is a warrior on offense,” Ergenbright said.
“Our backs ran so hard tonight. J.T. (Thongvanh) was huge tonight. Deonne showed what we knew he could do and Tyler ran well with the football plus played almost every down on defense for us too.”
Thongvanh had his best game of the season running the football with 88 yards on 15 carries. The junior also caught three passes for 91 yards, two of which went for touchdowns.
Newton struck first on its second possession of the game. Easley reached out and hauled in the football on a 31-yard pass for a touchdown from Wood with 5:07 left in the first quarter.
“I beat the guy on a slant-and-go. T Wood put it right over the top and let me make a play on it. T Wood is good and it’s nice catching passes from him,” Easley said.
Senior strong safety Levi Michener produced the first of his two forced fumbles on the night when he and defensive lineman Troy Exley combined to tackle ADM quarterback Kolby Whisner in the backfield. Michael Barr was there to recover the football for Newton.
Newton had the ball at the ADM 12-yard line but couldn’t get any closer. Ryan Thompson, who had kicked the extra point earlier, booted a 28-yard field goal. Newton led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Cardinals had regained possession with 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter. They used three minutes of the second period on a drive, finished off with an 18-yard scoring strike from Wood to Easley. The extra-point kick failed, leaving it 16-0.
It took the Tigers only one play to get on the scoreboard. Whisner hit Tate Jensen in stride. Jensen raced 62 yards for the touchdown and Jacob Hutzell kicked the extra point. Later in the period, Whisner connected with Joseph Sloss but Wood forced a fumble and Michener recovered for Newton.
The Cardinals moved from their own 33-yard line into Tiger territory, They were unable to score again before halftime, but they kept the football away from the Tigers long enough that time ran out on ADM’s final drive of the half.
Michener pulled double duty for the Cardinal defense on ADM’s first possession of the second half. Michener caused another fumble while sacking Whisner. Daquan Allen recovered the football for Newton at the ADM 49-yard line with 8:52 on the third-quarter clock.
Wood found Joseph Banfield for an 11-yard pass play on third down then ran for eight yards. On another third-down play, Wood passed the ball to Thongvanh, who slipped a couple of tackles to get to the end zone. He was being pulled down by the Tigers’ Jensen, when he twisted his way over the goal line on the scoring play that went 29 yards. Grant Davidson kicked the extra point.
Grant Goeden took the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. With the extra point, the Tigers were within 10 points, 23-13.
“I was really proud of how our guys fought and hung with it. We didn’t lose our focus or our energy level at anytime during the game,” Ergenbright said. “We had another good start. At halftime, these kids were so bound and determined it was not going to get away from them as the Grinnell game did. This is exactly what they needed.”
Newton’s offense responded with a scoring drive, which ate up over three minutes. Harris scored from 24 yards out then tacked on the two-point conversion. ADM answered, using a long pass play to set up a three-yard touchdown run by Goeden, who also had a two-point conversion.
It was back and forth with the Cardinals staying out front. Each team scored on long pass plays to open the fourth quarter. Wood and Thongvanh connected again for a 47-yard touchdown strike with Davidson kicking the extra point.
The Tigers got a 60-yard hook-up between Whisner and Jensen. Whisner finished the game 16-of-24 for 315 yards passing. Jensen had nine catches for 267 yards.
Then came the 80-yard, 12-play march down the field by the Cardinals for the final touchdown.
“This feels amazing. We knew we had to improve. Our intensity level just jumped,” said Jake Huizenga, senior offensive lineman. “We were really getting on (blocking) who were supposed to throughout the game.”
Brock, Huizenga’s senior offensive line teammate, switched to his defensive mode. He and the Cardinal defense sealed the deal on Friday night. Allen, senior defensive back, forced the ball loose from the Tigers and Brock recovered the football.
Wood and the offense ran the clock out. Wood was 6-of-14 for 151 yards passing plus rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries.
Brook had six solo stops and one assisted tackle. Wood, who started as a defensive back for the first time this season recorded five unassisted tackels and sophomore defensive back Bryce Tish had four solo tackles and one assisted tackle. Senior linebacker Nick Glotfelty had three unassisted tackles and two assists.
“Where has this team been? It’s the team we knew we had. We saw glimpses of it in other games but not for a full game. This is the energy and focus we need to carry into our final two games,” Ergenbright said.
The 3-4 Cardinals travel to Des Moines to play Saydel this coming Friday in Class 3A, District 4 play. Newton is 1-3 in district play.
Newton — Easley 31 yd pass from Wood (Thompson kick)
Newton — Thompson 28 yd field goal
Newton — Easley 18 yd pass from Wood (kick failed)
ADM — Jensen 62 yd pass from Whisner (Hutzell kick)
Newton — Thongvanh 29 yd pass from Wood (Davidson kick)
ADM — Goeden 94 yd kick return (kick failed)
Newton — Harris 24 yd run (Harris run)
ADM — Goeden 3 yd run (Goeden run)
Newton — Thongvanh 47 yd pass from Wood (Davidson kick)
ADM — Jensen 60 yd pass from Whisner (Hutzell kick)
Newton — Harris 2 yd run (Davidson kick)
Rushing: Newton-Harris 19-159, Wood 19-109, Thongvanh 15-88, Peters 3-6, Banfield 6-(-1). ADM-Goeden 12-76, Whisner 5-7.
Passing: Newton-Wood 6-14-151-0. ADM-Whisner 16-24-315-0.
Receving: Newton-Thongvanh 3-91, Easley 2-49, Banfield 1-11. ADM-Jensen 9-227, Jacob Sloss 3-63, goeden 2-20, Joseph Sloss 2-5.
Punting: Newton-Thompson 3-101 (33.7 avg.). ADM-Goeden 3-79 (26.3 avg.)
Tackles (S/A): Brock 6/1, Wood 5/0, Tish 4/1, Glotfelty 3/2, Michener 2/2, Hansen 2/1, Stanton 2/0, Thompson 2/0, Exley 1/1, Banfield 1/0, Allen 1/0, McCormick 1/0, Weatherly 1/0, Bennett 0/2.
Quarterback sacks: Michener 2.
Forced fumbles: Michener 2, Allen 1.
Fumble recoveries: Brock 1, Michener 1, Allen 1, Barr 1.