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Local Sports

Cardinals claim classic win over Dodgers

Something had to give. The 3.5 hour-long football game finally came to a climax at 11:15 p.m. Friday.

Fans watched a Class 4A District 4 football classic on Friday night at Newton’s H.A. Lynn Stadium. The top two offensive teams in the district were showing off their wares — rushing vs. passing.

There were a combined 1,325 yards of total offense served up by Newton High’s Cardinals and the Fort Dodge Dodgers. The Cardinals racked up 561 yards rushing the ball. The Dodgers passed for 329 yards.

It came down to one play with 16 seconds left on the game clock. Fort Dodge quarterback Drake Miller and the Dodgers used three pass plays to go 46 yards for a touchdown. Newton led 71-70 and the Dodgers decided to end the game on a 2-point conversion play — win it or lose it.

“We got pressure on him (Miller) on the 2-point conversion pass. He threw it to the end zone and we defended it well,” Newton head coach Ed Ergenbright said. “Giving up 70 points, it’s hard to feel good about your defensive effort, but our guys made some key plays — two fourth-down stops and the play at the end. Wow, what a game.”

The teams combined to score 141 points, which was the most points scored in an 11-man football game in Iowa since 2002 when Dowling Catholic beat Southeast Polk 77-66 for 143 points. Fans saw a combined point total which ranked fourth all-time in Iowa 11-man scoring.

Newton had just engineered what many believed the final scoring drive of the game. They were behind 64-63 with 2 minutes remaining in the game.

“We practice the 2-minute drill every Thursday. We weren’t going to flinch. I did earlier when I fumbled the ball, but not this time,” Newton senior Garrett Sturtz said of Newton winning TD drive.

Sturtz connected with senior split end Trevor Ergenbright, who was back after missing a couple of games because of an injury. The 20-yard pass play came on a fourth-and-12 to give Newton the football at the Fort Dodge 27-yard line

Sturtz, who threw for 105 yards in the game, found senior running back Jaron Roush for a 23-yard TD pass. He and Ergenbright hooked up one more time for the 2-point conversion lifting Newton to a 71-64 lead with 43.5 seconds left.

Fort Dodge’s Trey Mosley ran the game’s opening kickoff back 90 yards to begin the scoring fest. Down 7-0, the Cardinals answered with a 59-yard, four-play drive capped by a 15-yard TD run by Roush. Senior Zach Combs kicked the extra point.

“It was exciting out there. We never gave up,” Newton junior tight end Jacob Murphy said. “We didn’t shy away and came right back after the kickoff return. We knew we had to answer right away and it would set the tone.”

The drama built from that point on in the back-and-forth game. Throw in a brief delay after the first Newton touchdown when the stadium lights on the visitor’s side went out.

“This was one for the ages. I’ve never been apart of a game like this,” Ergenbright said after the exciting end to the contest.

Newton established or tied five team marks in the game. Combs tied the record of most extra-point kicks, 9-of-9, established in 2007. The combined point total and total offensive output by the two teams were new team records for Newton football.

The Cardinals’ total offensive yards of 666 was a new high since 2000 when the team had 637 yards against Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. The 71 points was the most scored in a game by Newton since tallying 74 against Southeast Polk in 1984.

Newton has scored 325 points during its 6-0 run this season. In 1983, Newton had 304 points in a nine-game season.

Once the lights came back on in the stadium on Friday night, the teams revved it up again.

On the kickoff, Newton senior Grayson Graham recovered a short kickoff at the Fort Dodge 32-yard line. It took four plays to reach the end zone for the Cardinals with Sturtz running in from six yards out. Combs’ kick put the Cardinals up 14-7.

Fort Dodge came right back with its passing game and the running of freshman Dayson Clayton. Miller found Mosley on a 35-yard pass play for a TD at the 7:06 mark. Ben Nebel, who would hit 8-of-8 PATs, tied the game at 14-14.

The Dodger defense halted a Cardinal drive and forced a punt, which was short. One 38-yard running play by Clayton and the extra-point kick had Fort Dodge up 21-14.

“I knew coming into the game they were going to be tough for us to defend. They are a style of offensive team which gives us problems,” Ergenbright said. “Our prescription for winning the game was to score points, finish drives, drive the ball and take time off the clock. I never imagine it would have to be 71 points.”

Newton responded with a nine-play, 67-yard drive which ate up five minutes at the end of the first quarter. Sturtz handed the ball off to senior Josh Miravalles, who handed it off to Roush on a reverse play. Roush scored the second of his five touchdowns in the game on a 7-yard run.

The Cardinal defense had three big plays which turned the tide in the game each time. In the second quarter, Fort Dodge went on a fourth-and-four play and was stopped by the Cardinals at the Newton 22-yard line.

On the fifth-play of the drive, Miravalles broke loose for a 45-yard TD run. Newton was up 28-21 with 8:38 left in the second quarter. The Dodgers knotted it 28-al two minutes later with Clayton rambled 30 yards to the end zone.

Again, the Cardinals embarked on a nine-play drive to paydirt. With several penalties coming near the goal line against Fort Dodge, the Cardinals were within inches of taking the lead. Officially, Miravalles is given a 1-yard touchdown run, but he burrowed his way up the middle from about three inches out and Combs added the extra point.

“It’s tough running up the middle but someone has to do it. Whatever I can do to help our team win, I’m going to do it,” the 5-foot-7-inch, 175-pound Miravalles said. “We blocked well for each other all night. Everyone executed out there.”

Newton held a 35-28 lead at halftime and got the football to open the third quarter. The Cardinals weren’t able to build on the momentum coming out in the second half and punted to the Dodgers.

In one play — an 88-yard pass from Miller to Mosley — the Dodgers tied the game up, 35-35. Newton’s response was a few yards shorter but on one play and in the same amount of time — 11 seconds. Roush dashed 63 yards to the end zone.

The Newton defense came up for a second time to stop the Dodgers. At the 7:10-mark of the third quarter, the Dodgers faced a fourth-and-one situation, the Cardinals stuffed a running play for a loss and returned the football to the Cardinal offense.

Roush capped a 72-yard drive with a 28-yard TD run. Roush ended up with 246 yards on 12 carries to lead the Cardinal running game. The Cardinals were in control up two scores with 5:19 left in the third quarter.

Fort Dodge did something a bit out of character. The Dodgers put together a 13-play drive, consuming more than four minutes. Drake Miller pushed on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line and Nebel kicked the extra point.

“I’m proud that every time our kids needed to stand up and do the job — offensive or otherwise — they did it,” Ergenbright said. “How many plays did Jaron, Josh Miller, Garrett and Josh Miravalles give us. It was good to have Trevor back as he made some key catches.

“Jacob Murphy blocked so well on our rocket sweeps. And the guys up front just knock their players off the ball play after play. I didn’t think we could do that to that defense.”

A short kickoff set up a three-play TD march by the Cardinals. Again, penalties against Fort Dodge moved the ball within inches of the goal line as the fourth quarter opened. Sturtz, who had 130 yards on 18 carries, had a 1-yard TD run.

Fort Dodge quickly went to the air and in a little more than a minute scored. Drake Miller scrambled in from 13 yards out. It was 56-49 with 10:35 left in the game.

Three minutes later, Newton junior Josh Miller powered into the end zone from seven yards out. The Cardinals stayed two scores in front of the Dodgers, but not for long.

Fort Dodge struck from the air again. Tyson Kershaw hauled in an 8-yard pass from Drake Miller and Nebel kicked the extra point.

It was a back-and-forth, up-and-down the field contest. There was five minutes left in the game and Newton had the football and was driving.

After a good pick-up of yards, Sturtz fumbled the football, which was recovered by Ford Dodge’s Bryer Nelson. It was the only turnover in the game.

Fort Dodge scored with 2:05 left on Drake Miller’s fourth TD pass of the night then the Dodgers went for two points to get the lead. Mosley went airborne to reach the end zone and put Fort Dodge up 64-63.

“We knew what we had to do,” Murphy said about the Cardinals with two minutes remaining in the game. “We executed and converted to get the lead back. Our crowd support is great.”

Sturtz led the Cardinal offense back on the field, ready to run the 2-minute offense.

“We came together. We were not giving up this one. We were going to bring home the win. We played smart on that last drive,” Sturtz said. “You have to give Fort Dodge credit. They didn’t give up on it either and have some guys who can make things happen. Our defense got the job done at the end.”

Senior linebacker Grant Garvis and Combs, a safety, led the defensive charge for the Cardinals. Garvis had seven solo tackles — two for losses — and five assisted tackles. Combs made six solo stops and three assisted tackles and broke up two pass plays. Graham had five solo tackles and one assisted tackle.

Senior linebacker Cole Cazett had four solo tackles — one for a loss — and three assisted tackles. Senior linebacker Blayden Rhone recorded four solo stops and four assisted tackles.

Miravalles finished with 114 yards on 15 carries and Josh Miller had 72 yards on 13 carries. Ergenbright made three catches for 56 yards. Murphy had one reception for 26 yards and Roush had one catch for 23 yards.

Fort Dodge had 659 yards of total offense, breaking a school record that had lasted for just two weeks, according to the Fort Dodge newspaper. The Dodgers finished with 613 yards in a 62-52 home win over Ames on Sept. 15.

The Dodgers had 300 yards rushing on the night led by Clayton with 183 yards on 19 carries. Drake Miller was 19-of-36 passing for 359 yards and rushed for 117 yards.

Miravalles and his coach gave credit to the Newton scout team players. Ergenbright said a team cannot be 6-0 without good practice people and the NHS junior varsity players help prepare the varsity every week.

“Our scout team is amazing. We couldn’t have done this without the effort they’ve given during practices,” Miravalles said. “Tonight, it was a roller coaster of emotions. It feels great to be on the upside of it.”

Newton improved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in 4A District 4 action. Fort Dodge dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-2 in district play.

The Cardinals are on the road this Friday at 4A 10th-ranked Southeast Polk, which lost 41-34 to Valley in overtime on Friday. Newton hosts 4A No. 3 West Des Moines Valley on Oct. 13 for the final home game of the regular season, which is Senior Night.

“We have two of the best teams in the state coming down the pike — Southeast Polk and Valley. A team like us isn’t suppose to beat those teams, but I guarantee we’re going to go give it a shot,” Ergenbright said.

Fort Dodge 21-7-14-28—70

Newton 21-14-14-22—71

Fort Dodge — Mosley 90 yd kickoff return (Nebel kick)

Newton — Roush 15 yd run (Combs kick)

Newton — Sturtz 6 yd run (Combs kick)

Fort Dodge — Mosley 35 yd pass from Miller (Nebel kick)

Fort Dodge — Clayton 38 yd run (Nebel kick)

Newton — Roush 7 yd run (Combs kick)

Newton — Miravalles 45 yd run (Combs kick)

Fort Dodge — Clayton 30 yd run (Nebel kick)

Newton — Miravalles 1 yd run (Combs kick)

Fort Dodge — Mosley 88 yd pass from Miller (Nebel kick)

Newton — Roush 63 yd run (Combs kick)

Newton — Roush 28 yd run (Combs kick)

Fort Dodge — Miller 1 yd run (Nebel kick)

Newton — Sturtz 1 yd run (Combs kick)

Fort Dodge — Miller 13 yd run (Nebel kick)

Newton — Miller 7 yd run (Combs kick)

Fort Dodge — Kershaw 8 yd pass from Miller (Nebel kick)

Fort Dodge — Lara 6 yd pass from Miller (Mosley run)

Newton — Roush 23 yd pass from Sturtz (Ergenbright pass from Sturtz)

Fort Dodge — Clayton 18 yd pass from Miller (pass failed)

Newton Fort Dodge

28 First Downs 27

58-561 Rushes-Yds 31-300

105 Passing Yds 359

666 Total Offense 659

5-9-0 Passing 19-36-0

1-1 Fumbles/lost 0-0

4-50 Penalties/yds 15-72

2-19 Punts/Avg 1-42

Individual Leaders

Rushing: Newton-Roush 12-246, Sturtz 18-130, Miravalles 15-114, Miller 13-72. Fort Dodge-Clayton 19-183, Miller 12-117.

Passing: Newton-Sturtz 5–9-105-0. Fort Dodge-19-36-359-0

Receiving: Newton-Ergenbright 3-56, Murphy 1-26, Roush 1-23. Fort Dodge-Mosley 7-166, Kershaw 6-97, Lara 3-25, Clayton 2-36, Bell 1-35.

Punting: Newton-Sturtz 3-38 (19 yd avg.). Fort Dodge-Lockner 1-42 (42 yd avg.)

Newton Defense

Tackles (solos/assisted): Garvis 7/5, Combs 6/3, Grayson Graham 5/1, Cole Cazett 4/3, Blayden Rhone 4/4, Hansen 3/1, Gulling 2/1, Kuennen 2/1, Frisch 1/3, Romberg 1/2, Murphy 1/0, Bartels 0/2, Cox 0/1, Usry 0/1.

Quarterback sacks (solo/assisted): None.

Fumbles (forced/recovered): None.

Interceptions: None.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535 or

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