NEWTON — Newton’s defense turned Ballard’s Bombers away twice in a row. Jeff Stanton intercepted a pass at the Newton 10-yard line with 1:41 left in the first half. The Cardinals went to the locker room trailing 20-13 Friday at home.
The Bombers came out and moved the football to open the second half. This time it was senior Daquan Allen picked off another half-back pass by Ballard in the end zone for a touchback.
So, with a Class 3A playoff spot on the line, the Cardinals still had their goal within their reach at the 7:22 mark of the third quarter. They were just down seven points.
But penalties put the Cardinal offense off its schedule. That combined with a tough Bomber defense, Newton didn’t score again, losing 33-13, to end their 2013 season.
“We never got into a good flow. We made mistakes early but we hit the big pass play to Nick (Easley) and I thought, we would shake things off. We were just off tonight,” said Ed Ergenbright, Newton head coach. “The kids prepared well all week.
“But when you have penalties early in the series then you have to try to make up those lost yards on one play. We never got into a sequence of what we like to do. Their defense took away some things we like to do. We were just off from the beginning of the game.”
Newton took the opening kickoff but had back-to-back five-yard penalties on third down. They faced a third-and-19 at the Ballard 42-yard line.
Junior quarterback Tyler Wood went to the Cardinals’ top receiver of the season, junior Nick Easley. Easley beat the Ballard defender, pulled in the football and scrambled to the end zone. The pass-and-catch play covered 48 yards, plus put Easley atop the NHS season touchdown-catch list with nine.
Ryan Thompson kicked the extra point and Newton led 7-0 on Senior Night at H.A. Lynn Stadium at the 9:57 mark of the first period.
The Bombers responded with a 65-yard drive capped by a 33-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Johnson. Andrew Rasmusssen kicked the tying extra point with 7:13 on the first- quarter clock.
On Ballard’s second possesiion of the game, the Bombers came out using the “wildcat” formation with a direct snap to senior running back Jacob Nethers. Nethers led the Bombers down the field, 70 yards, completing one pass and finishing the march with an 11-yard
touchdown run. The extra-point kick failed, leaving it 13-7 with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.
A penalty and a bad pitch play set the Cardinal offense back at the start of the second quarter. Thompson punted and pinned the Bombers back at the Ballard 13-yard line.
Ballard switched back to the conventional offense with Coy Baker as quarterback. It was still Nethers doing the damage on the ground. A pass interference penalty cost Newton 15 yards. Nethers, who rolled up 228 yards on 31 carries in the game, powered into the end zone from three yards out with 5:37 left.
Newton trailed 20-7 and began its next possession at its own 11-yard line. The Wood-to- Easley connection picked up 20 yards on a third-down play, plus another 15 yards was gained on a personal-foul penalty against Ballard.
Wood ran for 11 more yards. Easley went high in the air to snare a pass from Wood to reach the Bombers’ 19-yard line. Wood got to the edge and picked up 18 yards, then handed the football off to Joseph Banfield, who pushed across the goal line from one yard out. The extra-point kick was blocked and it was 20-13.
“Defensively, we made some plays to keep the game close. We just never got our offense rolling, especially in the second half,” Ergenbright said.
Ballard got a 34-yard touchdown run by Nethers with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Newton’s Troy Exley blocked the extra-point kick.
The Cardinals’ Michael Barr recovered a muffed punt by the Bombers at the Newton 48- yard line with 6:21 remaining in the game, trailing 26-13. The Bombers held on four straight plays to get the ball back and Nethers ripped off a 36-yard dash to the end zone.
“Their offensive line was very good. We couldn’t get off the blocks. We made some plays, but never could turn things our way,” Ergenbright said.
Wood was 6-of-13 passing for 123 yards, with one interception. Wood now has the record for most yards passing in a career, 2,364 yards, He passes Brian Rose, who had 2,073 from 2010-11.
Easley made four receptions for 99 yards. Deonne Harris had one catch for 14 yards and Jeff Thongvanh had one reception for 10 yards.
Wood led the ground game with 50 yards on 14 carries, while Harris had 28 yard son six carries and Banfield had 23 yards on seven carries. The Cardinals had 103 yards rushing for the game.
Senior linebackers Will Brock and Nick Glotfelty led the defensive charge. Brock had eight solo tackles and four assisted tackles. Glotfelty racked up seven solo stops Wood had seven solo tackles. Allen recorded six solo stops, one assisted tackle and a quarterback sack assist.
Jordan Travis had six solo tackles, three assisted tackles and a solo quarterback sack. Zakk Weatherly made five unassisted tackles and three assisted tackles. The defense was without the services of senior strong safety Levi Michener, who was sidelined with a knee injury.
“Our seniors have been a wonderful group to coach. Most of them have played for three years for us. Will Brock, in my opinion, is an all-state level player. He has played on the offensive line and as linebacker for us. He is a real warrior out there, as all of our seniors have been. We’re going to miss those guys,” Ergenbright said.
“It was tough on Levi not to be on the field for us on Senior Night.”
Allen, Brock, Glotfelty, Colton Hansen, Michener, Ray Schroder, Thompson, Jake Huizenga, Derek Wrage, Exley, Dillon Constant, Jake Smith, Brandon Fisher, Mac Icenbice, Isaiah Dickey, Earl Kimmel, Joey Wright, Alec Morgan and Devon Wolf were this year’s NHS seniors.
Newton finished at 4-5 overall, 2-4 in Class 3A, District 4 play.
Newton — Easley 48 yd pass from Wood (Thompson kick)
Ballard — Johnson 33 yd run (Rasmussen kick)
Ballard —Nethers 11 yd run (kick failed)
Ballard — Nethers 3 yd run (Rasmussen kick)
Newton — Banfield 1 yd run (kick blocked)
Ballard — Nethers 34 yd run (kick blocked)
Ballard — Nethers 36 yd run (Rasmussen kick)
12 First Downs 27
31-103 Rushes/yds 56-351
123 Passing yds 66
226 Total Offense 417
6-13-1 Passing 2-6-2
2/1 Fumbles/lost 1/1
5-35 Punts-avg. 1-36
15-109 Penalties 8-72
Rushing: Newton-Wood 14-50, Harris 6-28, Banfield 7-23, Peters 1-1, Thongvanh 3-1. Ballard-Nethers 31-228, Johnson 15-82, Edwards 4-36, Thompson 2-27, Baker 4-1.
Passing: Newton-Wood 6-13-123-1. Ballard-Baker 1-2-33-0, Edwards 0-1-0-1, Nethers 1-2-33-1.
Receiving: Newton-Easley 4-99, Harris 1-14, Thongvahn 1-10. Ballard-Edwads 1-33, Wilson 1-33.
Punting: Newton-Thompson 5-176 (35.2 avg.). Ballard-Kane 1-36 (36 avg.).
Tackles (solo/assisted): Allen 6/1, Banfield 1/0, Brock 8/4, Exley 0/1, Glotfelty 7/2, Peters 1/0, Schroeder 1/2, Stanton 2/0, Thompson 0/2, Travis 6/3, Weatherly 5/3, B. Wolf 2/0, Wood 7/0.
Quarterback sacks: Travis 1.
Interceptions: Allen 1, Stanton 1.
Fumble recoveries: Barr, 1.