The Railers led 20-0 at halftime, but were able to score 28 points in the second half thanks to Eisenhower turnovers, punt returns for good field position, and improved passing game.
Newton coach Brent Glann gave credit to the Tigers’ defense, which he said forced the passing game with its first-half pressure.
“Eisenhower out played us and outcoached us early, but we were able to settle down and make some big plays and run away with it a little bit,” Glann said. “Eisenhower was bringing everybody, so we had to throw it, and it worked out for us.”
The first quarter was fairly quiet. Newton scored its first touchdown midway through on a long pass from quarterback Coleman Kingsley to wide receiver Matt Willis near the endzone.
In the second quarter, Newton scored on two more touchdown passes. The Railers’ special teams gave the offense good field position off punt-returns. Eisenhower had an opportunity when Newton was backed into its own endzone, but the Railers avoided any turnovers or safeties.
At halftime, Eisenhower still looked like it could make a comeback, especially after stopping a Newton drive early in the third quarter. With five minutes left in the quarter, the Railers went on a touchdown spree, scoring 28 points in less than four minutes.
The fourth touchdown came off an interception, when Newton’s Kingsley—who was playing defensive back—picked off a Trevor Hughes-to-Jacob Richardson pass. Richardson looked as though he had overstepped on the route, and as he turned back to catch the ball, lost his balance as Kingsley snatched it out of the air.
Kingsley returned it to the Tigers’ 14 yard line. The subsequent touchdown sealed the game for Newton.
The fourth quarter rejuvenated the spirits of the waning Eisenhower crowd. With 10 minutes left in the game, Hughes found wide receiver Brennan Stemple on a long pass for the Tigers’ first touchdown of the night.
The Tigers’ second came in the final minute of the game, when Drake Damon intercepted a Newton pass and returned it within first and goal. The offense scored a few seconds later, making the final score 48-14.
Eisenhower defensive coordinator John Buckendorff said Friday’s loss was a hard one to play both physically and mentally, because it was hard for the Tigers to overcome those “big plays” Newton made early on.
“Sometimes when you get beat in a big play like that, people want to try to do someone else’s job and go that extra mile,” Buckendorff said. “When, in fact, it’s only going to hurt you as a defensive unit when you’re not doing your job.
As Eisenhower prepares for its homecoming game at Goddard next weekend, Buckendorff said the coaching staff has to make sure the players stay focused and not let the Homecoming Week activities distract them from next week’s game.
“We just have to keep them focused on doing their jobs, and playing hard—and continuing to play hard, even in the face of adversity,” he said.
Glann said Newton’s remaining schedule will be challenging, but he is also looking forward to making the playoffs.
He also commended Eisenhower, saying that he once coached a first-year program in Colorado 25 years ago, and he knows it’s a challenge.
“A lot of credit goes to Eisenhower—that game was a lot closer than the score indicates,” Glann said. “Their kids are still playing hard, and they’re coaching them well. It’s tough, but they’ve got better days ahead.”
Newton will host a tough Salina South team next Friday, and Eisenhower will play Valley Center for its homecoming game at Goddard’s football stadium.