Momentum is fickle.
Newton High’s Cardinals were dominating the first quarter Friday at home against Marshalltown’s Bobcats, but the Bobcats swung momentum to their side on one play. Marshalltown’s Thomas Snyder intercepted a Newton pass and dashed 71 yards for the touchdown.
“That was a bad read on my part. I should never have thrown the ball,” Newton quarterback Garrett Sturtz said after the game. “Then Trevor got it all back for us.”
Yes, on the ensuing kickoff Newton junior Trevor Ergenbright used his blockers well as he had a 90-yard return for a touchdown. Zach Combs’ kick tied the game at 7-7 with 3:18 left in the first quarter.
It took 14 seconds to swing the momentum pendulum back toward the Cardinals. The Cardinals kept it there for a 45-14 win over the Bobcats to begin Class 4A District 4 action.
Newton survived three turnovers in the first quarter — four overall — to stay undefeated, 5-0, for the season.
“It was a strange game. I was aggravated with the offense being out of kilter,” Newton head coach Ed Ergenbright said. “We practiced great all week. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, but the kids made up for it with a huge special teams play. We overwhelmed them (the Bobcats) on defense.”
The Cardinals forced the Bobcats to punt on their first two possessions with sophomore defensive end Jaise Gulling blocking the second punt attempt by Kody Ricken. Newton recovered the ball at Marshalltown’s 22-yard line.
“I was getting blocked a lot at the start of the game and couldn’t get up field,” Gulling said. “I made some adjustments and got in there to block the punt. We’re feeling pretty comfortable with our defense and doing well in it.”
Newton fumbled the football for the second time in the game. The Bobcats recovered it at their own 4-yard line. Their drive was four plays and punt. Newton started its possession at the Marshalltown 34 then came the pick-6 by the Bobcats.
Ergenbright’s kickoff return was the equalizer. Despite penalties and the four turnovers, Newton righted its ship for the contest from there.
Marshalltown quarterback Sam Irwin directed a drive to the Newton 22-yard line by the conclusion of the first period. An incomplete pass opened the second quarter on a third-down play. The Bobcats went on a fourth-and-7, but Irwin’s pass fell short of its target.
Newton’s ground game took over with running by junior Jaron Roush, senior Jordan Norvell and Sturtz. It set up a scoring pass play. Sturtz delivered the football to Ergenbright over the middle in stride, and Ergenbright raced to the end zone. The play covered 54 yards, beginning a 17-point scoring surge in the second quarter by Newton.
“We talked about limiting the mistakes and holding onto the ball,” senior offensive lineman Alex Miller said. “We were moving the ball on them, but then have a penalty or a fumble. We stepped it up.”
Senior Reese Rosenquist, one of the few players for Newton playing both offense and defense, intercepted an Irwin pass on the first play of the Bobcats’ next possession. Rosenquist opened Newton’s drive with a 13-yard run.
The Cardinals’ drive stalled at the Marshalltown 19-yard line, setting up a first for placekicker Combs. Combs nailed his first varsity field goal from 36 yards out at the 5:57 mark of the second quarter.
“With homecoming week, there were a lot of distractions and we weren’t as focused to start the game, but we kept battling,” Combs, who also plays defense, said. “It felt great — it was a great snap, a great hold and I did what I do.”
Newton’s defense held the Bobcats to 180 yards rushing, keeping starting running back Marquis Haynes under wraps — 53 yards on 12 carries. Avery Brooks finished with 72 yards rushing, but 41 came on a late TD run in the fourth quarter.
Irwin completed just 8-of-20 pass attempts for 36 yards against the Cardinals.
“I was really pleased the way our defense kept giving us the ball back. We finally put some things together offensively,” Ergenbright said.
Brady Smith, who was crowned 2016 Homecoming King on Thursday, racked up 11 solo tackles and one assisted tackle. Rosenquist had two quarterback sacks while Blayden Rhone, Busch and Smith each had one sack.
Rosenquist had six solo tackles and one assisted tackle. Rhone and Combs each had six solo tackles and one assisted tackle while Busch had four solo stops and three assisted tackles.
On the Bobcats’ next possession in the second quarter, Rosenquist and Jaise Gulling had back-to-back quarterback sacks forcing another Marshalltown punt.
Newton marched 63 yards in five plays to extend its lead. Rosenquist dived to the pylon on a 26-yard TD run and Combs kicked the extra point for the 31-7 lead with 52 seconds left until halftime.
“We made one adjustment on defense at halftime to control the pitch on the sweep play they were having success on. That was it,” Combs said.
The third quarter was much of a back-and-forth affair for the teams. Newton’s third fumble of the night came on the first play of the second half.
Marshalltown’s offense put together its first scoring threat of the game, but a penalty was a setback for the Bobcats. On a fourth-and-15 play from the Newton 33-yard line, Irwin’s pass was intercepted by Newton’s Grayson Graham at the 10-yard line.
“We had a slow start tonight. We weren’t as focused as we usually are with our execution,” Sturtz said. “We started picking it up in the second quarter, and finally got in a rhythm. We had a game plan, made adjustments as we went and got the job done.”
The lone score of the third quarter was by the Cardinals. They started at their own 31 with 6:15 on the clock. They used a fake punt play — a run by Rosenquist — to keep the drive alive. Sturtz connected with Ergenbright over the middle to move the ball deep into Bobcat territory.
Rosenquist capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run at the 2:36 mark. Combs’ kick made it 38-7.
Marshalltown moved the ball to Newton’s 41-yard line by the end of the third quarter. Two incomplete passes opened the fourth period then Newton junior linebacker Joe Busch tripped up Irwin in the backfield on a fourth-down play.
Two plays later, Norvell got to the edge, turned the corner against the Marshalltown defense and raced 56 yards for the touchdown. Newton led 38-7 when Marshalltown’s Brooks broke off a 41-yard TD run with nine minutes left in the game.
The Bobcats attempted an onside kick, but it was covered up by Newton at the Marshalltown 49. Newton used a six-play drive to score its final TD, which was a 1-yard run by Roush with six minutes remaining in the game.
“This means a lot for us as we got the 17-point margin for district play and stayed undefeated,” Miller said. “For me, it was great to win my final homecoming game, and with five wins, it means I’ll finish my career here on another winning Newton team.”
Norvell paced the running game for Newton with 86 yards on 11 carries while Rosenquist had 73 yards on eight carries. Sturtz went 5-of-7 passing for 133 yards. Ergenbright caught four passes for 131 yards.
“We’ll watch the tape, fix things we need to and get ready for Fort Dodge,” Ergenbright said. “It’s a long road trip, which our guys have shown they can handle, to take on the Dodgers, who have a good football team. Yes, they got beat 49-0 (Friday), but Valley is in a league by itself.”
In 4A District 4, top-ranked West Des Moines Valley beat Fort Dodge, 49-0, and Southeast Polk defeated Indianola, 34-14.
Newton (1-0, 5-0) play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Fort Dodge (0-1, 3-2).
Marshalltown — Snyder 71 yd interception return (Huffman kick)
Newton — Ergenbright 90 yd kickoff return (Combs kick)
Newton — Ergenbright 54 yd pass from Sturtz (Combs kick)
Newton — Combs 36 yd field goal
Newton — Rosenquist 26 yd run (Combs kick)
Newton — Rosenquist 4 yd run (Combs kick)
Newton — Norvell 55 yd run (Combs kick)
Marshalltown — Brooks 41 yd run (Huffman kick)
Newton — Roush 1 yd run (Combs kick)
16 First Downs 13
45-276 Rushes-Yds 39-180
133 Passing Yds 36
409 Total Offense 216
5-7-1 Passing 8-20-2
3-3 Fumbles-lost 0-0
12-79 Penalties-Yds 7-61
2-40 Punts-Avg. 5-31.4
Rushing: Newton-Norvell 11-86, Rosenquist 8-73 Roush10-59, Sturtz 5-25, Zibert 2-13, Miller 5-13, Miravalles 3-5, Smith 1-2. Marshalltown-Brooks 8-72, Fox 6-42, Gomez 5-39, Haynes 12-53, Irwin 8-(-26).
Passing: Newton-Sturtz 5-7-133-1. Marshalltown-Irwin 8-20-36-2.
Receiving: Newton: Ergenbright 4-131, Norvell 1-2. Marshalltown: Devenney 2-15, Medle 1-3, Richardson 3-18, Snyder 2-0.
Punting: Newton-Sturtz 2-80 (40 yd avg.). Marshalltown-Ricken 5-157 (31.4 yd avg.).
Tackles (solos/assisted): Smith 11/1; Rosenquist 6/2; Comb s 6/1; Rhones 6/1; Busch 4/3; Jaise Gulling 3/1; Kite 2/0; Ergenbright 1/1; Josh Gulling 0/3; Baltisberger 1/0; Steinbach 0/2; Graham 0/2; Maple 0/1.
Quarterback sacks (solos/assisted): Rosenquist 2/0; Smith 1/0; Rhone 1/0; Busch 1/0; Jaise Gulling 1/0.
Blocked punt: Jaise Gulling 1.
Fumbles (forced fumble/recovered): none.
Interceptions: Rosenquist-1, Graham-1.
Contact Jocelyn Sheets at 641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org