Carlisle ground game too much for Cardinals in playoff opener

Oct. 30—CARLISLE — Newton's football team played right with fifth-ranked Carlisle for three of the four quarters on Friday night.

The difference in the Class 4A playoff game came in the second quarter and the Wildcats' advantage was too much to overcome.

Carlisle led 7-0 after one, outscored Newton 20-7 in the second and advanced to the quarterfinal round following a 48-28 home victory.

"It's a senior-dominated team which got a taste of the playoffs last year and brought a lot of guys back," Newton football coach Andy Swedenhjelm said. "That's what happens. They are ready for this moment."

Newton hopes its taste of the postseason in 2022 can be a building block for 2023 and beyond.

The Cardinals simply had trouble stopping Carlisle's rushing attack on Friday. The Wildcats are closing in on 3,000 rushing yards for the season after a 399-yard performance against Newton.

"They are built for a nice playoff run. They do a great job, the line is big and physical and they get off the ball well," Swedenhjelm said. "They executed their stuff at a high level tonight. Hats off to those guys."

Carlisle (9-1) goes on the road for the quarterfinals to face fourth-ranked Iowa City Liberty (9-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday in North Liberty.

The Cardinals were in the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and totaled 395 yards in the loss.

Swedenhjelm hopes his program can take a similar step in 2023 that Carlisle is taking this season.

"The progression we tried to do with our program was have a winning season, make the playoffs and now what's the next step for us," Swedenhjelm said. "Our kids expect to go to the playoffs now. I think that's a huge mindset shift for us."

The Wildcats led 7-0 after one and went in front 19-0 in the second before the Cardinals cracked the scoreboard with a 28-yard touchdown run by Brody Bauer.

The scoring drive covered just 35 yards in three plays as Newton took advantage of a short field after Nate Lampe snagged his Class 4A-best sixth interception of the fall.

The pick came directly following a Newton possession that ended in a lost fumble. The Cardinals had just three first downs in their first three possessions.

"He's a stud. He did a great job last year for us, too," Swedenhjelm said about Lampe. "He's incredibly smart and has great field awareness and that helps put him in position to make plays."

Bauer's TD run came with 3:51 to go in the first half. But Carlisle responded with an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to go up 27-7 at halftime.

Jes Krcil, the Wildcats' leading rusher and tackler, scored on a 1-yard run with 12.7 seconds left in the second.

Krcil finished with 165 yards and three TDs on 26 carries. Jack Laughlin added 183 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries.

Both teams scored 21 points in the second half. But Newton was plagued by three key situations in the first half.

The first unfortunate thing that happened to Newton was an injury to Caleb Mattes. He left the game with 4:24 to play in the first quarter and never returned.

"He's a physical guy for us and that probably took some wind out of our sails for a bit," Swedenhjelm said. "He's hard to replace. He does a lot on offense and defense and it's hard to go to that personnel grouping on offense when he's not in. It was a huge blow for us."

Carlisle went up 13-0 on a 1-yard TD run by Laughlin with 10:01 to play in the second.

Newton followed that scoring drive up with a three-and-out on offense. Bauer got a pooch punt off but he was tackled on the play by multiple Wildcat players.

The Cardinal coaches wanted and pleaded for a roughing-the-punter penalty, but the flag was not thrown because the head official determined Bauer was not 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Carlisle had four scoring drives in the first half and three of them covered 67 or more yards and at least nine plays.

The Cardinals (7-3) had enough time for one play after Carlisle went up 27-7 in the second.

Bauer connected with Lampe along the home sideline. Lampe made one guy miss and then sprinted down the sideline for an apparent touchdown.

After the officials got together and talked it over, they ruled Lampe went out of bounds at the 2-yard line.

The play went for 68 yards and Lampe finished with a career-high 107 receiving yards on five catches.

"In every situation they've been in like that, they've played pretty soft in the secondary," Swedenhjelm said. "We thought we could do something. They weren't quite as soft as I expected them to be. They've been 20 yards off the ball before. Nate was able to make a heck of a play there though."

Carlisle started with the ball in the second half but fumbled it away on its second play from scrimmage.

The Cardinals scored one play later on Cody Klein's 45-yard TD run.

Carlisle answered though with an 80-yard, seven-play drive that included a 5-yard run by Krcil. Laughlin ran it twice on the possession and gained 40 yards.

Newton put together an impressive drive on its next possession but turned it over on downs after 11 plays.

Bauer connected with Turner Williams for 23 yards on third down and long. On fourth and nine, Bauer again found Williams, this time for 10 yards and a first down.

Four plays later, Klein was stopped one yard short of a first down.

"We had a pretty good game plan coming in, but we just missed on our chances," Swedenhjelm said. "There were a few missed opportunities. We missed a touchdown on a pass play, we missed a couple open receivers and we didn't get the call to go our way late in the first half. That happens sometimes."

The Cardinals got the ball back after forcing Carlisle into a three-and-out. And Newton went 69 yards in seven plays.

Bauer hooked up with Christian Ergenbright for 13 yards early in the drive. Curtis Payne's 39-yard catch on third and 10 extended the possession and Klein scored from 8 yards out two plays later.

Klein finished with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Bauer threw for 241 yards and rushed for 45 yards on nine carries.

Laughlin scored the Wildcats' next two TDs. The first came on a four-play, 50-yard drive that was capped by a 10-yard TD run by Laughlin.

The possession started on the 50 and Krcil ran it twice for 34 yards.

Bauer capped the Cardinals' scoring with a 10-yard TD run late in the fourth.

"Hats off to our kids. They did everything we expected them to do and did it with class," Swedenhjelm said. "I'm proud of the way they fought and competed.

Payne finished with 47 yards on two catches, Williams gained 34 yards on his two receptions and Jordan Killmer's lone catch went for 36 yards. Ergenbright also had two catches for 17 yards.

Nathan Milburn and Brendon West led the defense with 10.5 tackles each. Alex Thomason finished with 10 tackles, Lampe added five tackles and an interception and Carson Satterfield registered four tackles. Wyatt Weter also recovered a fumble.

Christian Lawson added to his school record with four more touchbacks on his four kickoffs. He capped his season with 38 touchbacks in 43 attempts.

The Wildcats had a 460-395 advantage in total yards and held a 24-12 surplus in first downs. Krcil led the Carlisle defense with eight tackles and one sack.