MARSHALLTOWN — Big plays were major components of Friday’s Class 4A District 4 opening football game between Newton High’s Cardinals and Marshalltown’s Bobcats. The Cardinals had more big scoring plays in a 49-28 road victory over the Bobcats.
Newton head coach Ed Ergenbright was happy with the victory. There were good things and not so good things he saw from his Cardinals throughout the contest, he said.
Ergenbright’s biggest concern is the health of his players. Junior running back Josh Miller was the latest player to go out of a game injured. Miller joins two other offensive starters on the sideline — senior running back Carson Cazett and senior split end Trevor Ergenbright.
“It was a solid win, but we have to be better on both sides of the ball,” Ergenbright said. “Most important is for this team to get guys healthy. We’re getting thin in our skills players on offense. We had another running back go out with an injury tonight. We have to get healthy.”
Defensively, the Cardinals made changes in personnel during the week because of injuries. Senior inside linebacker Joe Busch has been out since the season opener. Newton has had two defensive ends — junior Mason Lee and sophomore Quintrail Coley, who broke his foot in practice — go out of commission.
In Friday’s district opener, Newton committed three turnovers. Two fumbles led to Marshalltown touchdowns and the other stopped a Cardinal drive in the third quarter.
Newton’s defense held the Bobcats on the opening possession and forced a punt. The Cardinals had the football at their own 15-yard line. Senior quarterback Garrett Sturtz lost the handle on the ball after a 10-yard gain.
Marshalltown’s Noah DeVenney recovered the football at Newton’s 25-yard line with 10:19 left in the first quarter. Two plays later, Bobcat quarterback Sam Irwin found Dylan Eygabroad for a 21-yard TD pass. Ryan Huffman kicked the extra point to give the Bobcats a 7-0 lead.
The Cardinals snatched the momentum right back. In a bit of a deja vu moment from last year’s meeting in Newton, when the Bobcats used a long pass interception return to take a 7-0 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior running back Jaron Roush scored the first of three first-half touchdowns. Roush returned the kickoff 96 yards and with senior Zach Combs kicking the extra point, the game was tied 7-7 in a matter of seconds.
“I just saw our guys blocking up front of me and a big hole opened up. I took advantage of it,” Roush said of the return for a touchdown.”
Marshalltown had the ball for eight plays its second possession. Newton’s established its control of the game over the next 12 minutes of play.
“We messed up on some plays and didn’t ready our keys right on plays early,” junior defensive end Jaise Gulling said. “We had to come out and work harder. I switched positions this week. I played defensive end last year. We had several people playing new positions this week, but that’s no excuse.”
Sturtz, who shook off the early turnover, combined with Roush, Miller and senior running back Josh Miravalles in finding the holes opened by Newton’s offensive line. Roush ripped off a 17-yard run and Miller had two nine-yard runs to push the Cardinals down the field.
Sturtz had back-to-back runs of seven yards and 22 yards. Miravalles capped the nine-play, 78-yard drive with a two-yard TD run up the middle. Senior Zach Combs, who has overcome a bit of a hip injury issue, was smooth in his motion kicking the extra point.
Newton went up 14-7 and never looked back. The Bobcats pinned the Cardinals back at their 6-yard line with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
No worries, Sturtz blasted through the Bobcat defense was tripped up at the Marshalltown 15-yard line after a 79-yard run. On the first play of the second quarter, Sturtz pulled out of the grasp of a Bobcat defender to score from five yards out. Combs’ kick made it 21-7.
Sturtz led the top rushing attack in Class 4A District 4 with 215 yards on 20 carries Friday night. He also was perfect in passing the football, 3-for-3 for 35 yards and one touchdown.
“We pass when we need to, but our focus is establishing our running game. If we can run the ball effectively, our passing game opens up when we want it to,” Ergenbright said.
Two minutes after Sturtz found the end zone, Roush was back in it for the Cardinals. One play and Roush took the ball to the outside and dashed 68 yards for a TD. Roush amassed 314 all-purpose yards — rushing, receiving and returning kickoffs and punts— for the game, scoring three touchdowns.
Marshalltown went to the ground game on its next possession. The Bobcats rely more on the passing of Irwin to move the football, but they marched the ball 83 yards powered by Giorgio Diiorio. Diiorio ha back-to-back long runs of 22 and 35 yards to move the ball to the Newton 35-yard line.
On a fourth-and-six situation, Newton committed a five-yard penalty. Irwin ran for two yards for a first down and tacked on a 4-yard TD run on the next play. It was 28-14 with 4:56 left in the second quarter.
“Our tackling was pathetic tonight. When you tackle bad in space, you’re going to give up some big plays,” Ergenbright said. “We have to play better, especially on defense as we move forward into district play.”
Roush’s kickoff return set the Cardinals up at Marshalltown’s 45-yard line. He was one step away from going the distance for a second time in the game.
Sturtz raced 41 yards to the Bobcat 9-yard line, but the Cardinals had to overcome two offensive penalties including a holding one to negate a TD run by Roush. Sturtz completed a pass out to Roush for a 21-yard TD play and Combs added the extra point.
The Bobcats moved the ball through the air in the final two minutes of the first half. Newton stopped the drive on its 32-yard line and the Bobcats’ Huffman attempted a 49-yard field goal, which was no good, to end the half.
Newton went into the locker room with a 35-14 halftime lead. The Cardinals were halted on the opening drive of the second half and Sturtz punted.
Marshalltown decided to go for a fourth-and-one when the Cardinals tackled Irwin for no gain. Newton took over at the Marshalltown 39-yard line 8:26 left. Miller had a strong run to the 18 then the drive stalled out. On a third down play, Newton fumbled the football and Marshalltown recovered.
The Bobcats threw the football three times, drew a 10-yard penalty and suffered a quarterback sack before punting the ball back to Newton. Newton used eight plays to score on a four-yard run by Sturtz with 10:36 on the fourth-quarter clock.
“The second half was a bit rough, but we came out and finished strong,” Roush said. “Having our defense make stops on fourth downs and us making big plays on offense, helped us get the win.”
Marshalltown finally had a scoring strike when Irwin scrambled to find Josh Melde, who had gotten past Newton’s defensive backs, for a 76-yard pass play. Huffman kicked the extra point of make it 42-21 at the 9:07 mark.
Marshalltown executed a successful onside kick, recovering the ball at the Newton 48-yard line. The Bobcats moved to the Newton 21 and faced a fourth-and-one situation. Newton senior Jaden King caught Jordan Fox for a one-yard loss and giving the ball back to the Cardinals.
Newton lost another fumble at its own 45-yard line. On a fourth-and-16 play, Irwin scrambled again and tossed the all to Eygabroad for 38 yards. A pass from Irwin to Melde went for 12 yards putting the ball on the 8-yard line. Irwin scored on an 8-yard run with 2:48 left in the game.
Another onside kick by the Bobcats was covered by Newton at the Marshalltown 47. Miravalles had a 41-yard run then finished the drive with a 4-yard run into the end zone. Combs, who was 7-for-7 on PATs, kicked the extra point.
Newton rolled up 419 yards on the ground. Roush finished with 136 yards on eight carries and caught three passes for 35 yards.
“We had people out of the offensive lineup for practices all week. We had new kids practicing and playing tonight who don’t have varsity experience. It’s different than playing a junior varsity game,” Ergenbright said. “Our guys who went in tonight did a fine job, but our timing was off.”
Ergenbright said having Miller injured was another blow to the Cardinal backfield. He said Miller not only runs the ball well, but is a really strong blocker.
Senior linebacker Blayden Rhone recorded six solo tackles, one assisted tackle and a quarterback sack for Newton’s defense. Combs, who is the starting free safety, had five solo stops and three assisted tackles. Cole Cazett, a senior playing his first game as linebacker, had five solo tackles and one assisted tackle.
Senior Kamden Kuennen had five solo tackles and one assisted tackle and senior Grayson Graham made four unassisted tackles. Senior Grant Garvis had thee solos and three assisted tackles. Junior Lazarus Frisch and sophomore Antonio Usry each had a quarterback sack.
“It was a good game for us. It was a good test for next week,” Gulling said. Gulling made two solo tackles and two assisted tackles.
Marshalltown (1-4, 0-1) did not turn the ball over against Newton. Irwin was 16-of-32 passing for 291 yards and rushed for 33 yards on 16 carries. Dillorio had 76 yards on six carries. Melde made five catches for 124 yards.
Newton (5-0) takes its 1-0 district mark into Friday’s home game against Fort Dodge (3-2, 0-1). Fort Dodge lost 59-14 to West Des Moines Valley and Southeast Polk beat Indianola 30-22 in the other 4A District 4 openers.
Marshalltown — Eygabroad 19 yd pass from Irwin (Huffman kick)
Newton — Roush 93 yd kickoff return (Combs kick)
Newton — Miravalles 2 yd run (Combs kick)
Newton — Sturtz 5 yd run (Combs kick)
Newton — Roush 68 yd run (Combs kick)
Marshalltown — Irwin 4 yd run (Huffman kick)
Newton — Roush 21 yd pass from Sturtz (Combs kick)
Newton — Sturtz 4 yd run (Combs kick)
Marshalltown — Medle 76 yd pass from Irwin (Huffman kick)
Marshalltown — Irwin 8 yd run (Huffman kick)
Newton — Miravalles 4 yd run (Combs kick)
14 First Downs 18
45-419 Rushes-Yds 24-140
35 Passing Yds 299
454 Total Offense 439
3-3-0 Passing 16-32-0
4-3 Fumbles-lost 0-0
10-68 Penalties-Yds 6-53
1-35 Punts-Avg. 5-39
Rushing: Newton-Sturtz 20-215, Roush 8-136, Miravalles 12-42, Miller 5-26. Marshalltown-Dillorio 6-76, Irwin 16-33, Himes 6-30, Fox 4-3.
Passing: Newton-Sturtz 3-3-35-0. Marshalltown-Irwin 16-32-299-0.
Receiving: Newton: Roush 3-35, Marshalltown: Melde 5-124, Hernandez 3-96, Eygabroad 4-55, DeVenney 3-16.
Punting: Newton-Sturtz 1-35 (35 yd avg). Marshaltown-No. 40 5-193 (38.6 yd avg.)
Tackles (solos/assisted): Rhone 6/1, Combs 5/3, Cole Cazett 5/1, Kuennen 5/1, Graham 4/0, Garvis 3/3, Gulling 2/2, Bartels 2/1, Romberg 2/1, Usry 2/0, Frisch 2/0, King 1/1, Wolfe 1/0, Murphy 1/0, Hansen 1/0, Cox 0/4.
Quarterback sacks (solos/assisted): Frisch 1/0, Rhone 1/0, Usry 1/0.
Fumbles (forced fumble/recovered): none
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