NEWTON – With a playoff berth on the line, the Ballard football team turned in its ‘A’ game against Newton Friday to close out the regular season.
The Bombers used a dominant second half on defense to pull away from the Cardinals for a 33-13 victory.
With the win, Ballard went to 5-4 overall and the Bombers finished 3-3 in Class 3A District 4. More importantly, Ballard beat out Newton for the fourth and final playoff qualifying spot in the district to make it back to the postseason after a one-year absence.
"I’m really happy for the seniors and proud of this whole team," Ballard head coach Al Christian said. "They overcame some adversity this year and got us back to the playoffs."
Things didn’t look the best for Ballard early. Newton’s Tyler Wood threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Nick Easley to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead just over two minutes into the game.
But that score failed to shake the Bombers as they came back to even the score on their next drive. Isaiah Johnson capped it off with a 33-yard touchdown run and Andrew Rasmussen added the extra point with 7:15 left in the opening period.
After a defensive stand, Ballard put together another scoring drive just before the end of the quarter and the Bombers went up 21-7 midway through the second period. Tailback Jacob Nethers scored both touchdowns for Ballard as he found the end zone from 11 yards out in the first quarter and added a 3-yard scoring run in the second.
Newton found an answer late in the second quarter to stay in the game. The Cardinals pulled within 21-13 at the half on a 1-yard Joseph Banfield run with 2:26 to go in the second.
The Cardinals momentum was short lived.
The second half saw the Bomber defense clamp down on the Cardinals, holding them scoreless for the entire 24 minutes. Meanwhile, Nethers came through with touchdown runs of 34 and 36 yards to enable Ballard to pull away and secure its playoff berth.
"It was a great team win," Christian said. "The offense had some big drives and the defense had some big stops. Nethers ran behind great blocking and we tackled and ran to the ball well on defense."
Ballard finished with 374 yards rushing and 440 total yards for the game. Nethers was the primary workhorse for the Bomber offense as he ran for 228 yards on 31 carries and completed 1 of 2 passes for 33 yards.
Johnson added 82 yards rushing on 15 carries. Mason Edwards did a little bit of everything as he ran four times for 36 yards, caught one pass for 33 yards and also threw one pass.
Coy Baker was 1 of 2 passing for 33 yards and Tight end Cole Wilson made one 33-yard reception. Fullback Zach Thompson tacked on 27 rushing yards on two carries for Ballard.
On defense linebackers Marcus Johnson and Spencer Struve set the tone for Ballard. Johnson made 14 tackles and Struve finished with 11 stops and one fumble recovery.
Mark Goldberg chipped in eight tackles, Ben Claussen and Tyler Kyhl tallied six apiece and Mitchell Broer and Kenny Randolph each finished with five. Mason Jensen added an interception for the Bombers.
Newton finished 4-5 overall and 2-4 in 3A District 4. Wood completed 6 of 13 passes for 123 yards with one interception and he also ran for 50 yards on 14 carries, Easley caught four passes for 99 yards and Banfield ran for 23 yards on seven attempts.
Ballard opened 3A playoff competition against No. 2 Clear Lake (9-0) on Wednesday at Clear Lake. Read about the game in next week’s Tri-County Times.
Ballard 33, Newton 13
B 13 7 6 7 – 33
N 7 6 0 0 – 13
N – Nick Easley 48 pass from Tyler Wood (Ryan Thompson kick), 9:57
B – Isaiah Johnson 33 run (Andrew Rasmussen kick), 7:15
B – Jacob Nethers 11 run (kick failed), 1:14
B – Nethers 3 run (Rasmussen kick), 5:37
N – Joseph Banfield 1 run (kick blocked), 2:26
B – Nethers 34 run (kick failed), 3:14
B – Nethers 36 run (Rasmussen kick), 3:48
Team statistics B N
Rushes-yards 56-374 31-103
Passing 2-5-2 6-13-1
Passing yards 66 123
Total yards 440 226
Fumbles lost 1 1
Punts-average 1-36.0 5-35.2
Rushing: B – Jacob Nethers 31-228, Isaiah Johnson 15-82, Mason Edwards 4-36, Zach Thompson 2-27, Coy Baker 4-1. N – Tyler Wood 14-50, Deonne Harris 6-28, Joseph Banfield 7-23, Tristan Peters 1-1, Jeff Thongvanh 3-1.
Passing: B – Baker 1-2-0-33, Nethers 1-2-1-33, Edwards 0-1-0-0. N – Wood 6-13-1-123.
Receiving: B – Edwards 1-33, Cole Wilson 1-33. N – Nick Easley 4-99, Harris 1-14, Thongvanh 1-10.
Tackles: B – Marcus Johnson 14, Spencer Struve 11, Mark Goldberg 8, Ben Claussen 6, Tyler Kyhl 6.
Fumble recoveries: B – Struve.
Interceptions: B – Mason Jensen.