Newton runs by Bobcats, 45-14

NEWTON – Coming in to Friday night’s Class 4A District 4 opener with Newton, the Marshalltown defense knew it was going to have to contain a complex running offense. And while it did force four turnovers – three fumbles and an interception returned for a touchdown – the Cardinals ran for 271 yards between eight players and won 45-14.

Marshalltown’s (1-4, 0-1 District 4) run game wasn’t completely shut down, as Avery Brooks rushed for nine carries and 73 yards, while tallying the Bobcats’ only offensive score on a 41-yard run in the fourth quarter. Jordan Norvell led the Cardinals with eight carries, 91 yards and a touchdown.

Head coach Don Knock said the key with coming away with the first district win was to start early, which it did. TJ Snyder took an interception back 74 yards to put the Bobcats up early, 7-0. But the Cardinals (5-0, 1-0 District 4) would go on to score 38 unanswered points, scoring through the air and on the ground.

“Our offense didn’t help our defense at all tonight,” Knock said. “We can’t protect the quarterback and, I don’t know, we’re just not a good football team right now. We’ve got to find a way to get better and find some answers.”

Unsure of what’s next to help fix the offensive woes, the letdown loss was worn on the players’ and coaches’ faces as the team exited the field.

The pitch sweep and counter rushes were the worst offender of the Bobcat defense, that forced a fifth-straight game with an interception. Combined with three more fumbles – two inside the Cardinal red zone – the offense failed to convert anything off those turnovers.

“Until I evaluate tape, it’s hard to say,” Knock said. “It’s just a disappointing loss. I don’t believe they’re a 30-point team better than us. I don’t have any answers tonight, but maybe I will tomorrow.”

Marshalltown rushed for 204 yards and a score, but passed for just 37 total yards. Maddux Richardson was the Bobcats’ leading receiver with 16 yards on three catches.

“Avery did some good things when he came in. Jordan Fox ran hard,” Knock said. “We just couldn’t counter that with the passing game. Once you got behind, it’s tough to try and find the plays to call to get yourself back in the game.”

Sam Irwin was 8-for-19 with 37 passing yards and two interceptions. Marquis Haynes carried the ball 11 times for 41 yards before Brooks and Carlos Gomez came into the game. Fox was a consistent balance with Brooks and Haynes throughout the game, amassing 53 yards on six carries.

Trevor Ergenbright torched the Bobcats’ secondary with 127 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches. Ergenbright’s buck-27 were all but two yards received from quarterback Garrett Sturtz.

Knock said the special teams was “a disaster” allowing a kickoff returned for a touchdown and a block punt that put Newton in prime position to take the lead.

“With that punt getting blocked, statistically, it’s going to be a long night for you,” Knock said. “But we bounced back from of that stuff, then gave up that kick return.”

Newton moves to 48-31-6 all-time against the Bobcats, a rivalry dating back to 1910. While the Bobcats came away with a 24-21 overtime win in 2015, Newton advanced to a perfect 5-0 with their 31-point win Friday.

Marshalltown will attempt to flush Friday night’s loss before heading back on the road to Indianola next week. The district trip doesn’t get any easier, as the Bobcats continue to search for their first district win.