NEWTON Missed opportunities doomed South Tama's football team as it suffered its first loss of the season Friday night.
The Trojans failed to score any points from inside the 5 yard line at the end of the first half. They later had an extra-point attempt blocked and lost a fumble during the third quarter. Those and other miscues added up as the Trojans (3-1) lost to Newton (1-3) 28-27, dropping their first Class 3A district contest.
"It's a disappointing loss," coach Jay Hoskey said. "You have to work through these things. Those guys (Newton) were up for this game and they played really well. They also got like five for six guys back from some suspension deal. Those guys probably made enough of a difference in the game to win it. We didn't play the best. We had some problems."
South Tama senior Sam Kuhter, center, runs through blocks that seniors Erik Lux, left, and Kyle Stephenson threw for him during the play. Kuhter scored the Trojans’ first touchdown of the game on their opening drive of the game. STC lost the game 28-27 to Newton.
Friday night was Newton's homecoming, but South Tama had its chances to win the game. While trailing by one point, the Trojans took possession of the ball with 2:19 remaining in the contest. STC moved the ball into the Cardinals' territory, but failed to gain a first down.
Newton took the ball back with 1:02 left in the game, but punted the ball back to STC after three plays. The Trojans had 0:05 left on the clock, which was enough for one play from the Newton 34 yard line. STC senior Sam Kuhter dropped back to pass, but he had no time as he was quickly sacked by the Cardinals defense.
"It just wasn't our night," Hoskey said. "The good thing about this group of kids is I know they are going to battle. They're not giving up on the situation. They're going to take this one and learn from it.
"We have to prepare better and know that small details are important," he said. "We also have to work on stopping the rollout passing game this week. It's been our Achilles heel all year when teams roll out to the flat against us. People know it and they see it on tape. We're going to work on it this week."
South Tama started the game with a scoring drive. STC took possession of the ball first and marched 68 yards in 11 plays. Kuhter put the Trojans on the board with a three-yard run after STC ate up 5:25 of the clock.
The Trojans ran the ball on all 11 plays of the drive. Five of the runs went for double-digit yards. After asserting themselves with a power running game, the Trojans committed their first big mistake of the game.
Newton took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals' senior Andrew Clements ran up the middle of the field for the touchdown, tying the game at 7-7.
"We drive down the field just like we wanted and we had a pretty much perfect drive," Hoskey said. "Then we gave up a play and it's tied up, just like that. That kind of crap is huge. You have to give it to that kid, because he had some jets. At the same time, we have to work on that, because we can't have that. That absolutely can't happen."
Both teams exchanged punts after the touchdown. Two plays later, Kuhter found senior Vinny Lasley for a short pass that turned into a 75-yard reception. Lasley was caught from behind at the Newton 5 yard line. STC senior Kyle Stephenson scored on the next play with a run up the middle, giving South Tama a 14-7 advantage.
Newton tied the contest during the middle of the second quarter. NHS drove 80 yards in 12 plays with a mix of run and pass plays. A one-yard touchdown run tied the game with 4:11 left in the half.
South Tama made a march of its own and looked like it would take a lead before halftime. STC had a first-down-and-goal at the NHS 5 yard line. The Trojans were stopped after four straight running plays up the middle. They went into halftime without a touchdown or field goal, which would have given them a lead.
"(Newton) played with a lot of emotion," Hoskey said. "They also played with more excitement than us."
The Trojans did take advantage of a Newton error after halftime. The Cardinals fumbled the second half kickoff and STC senior Garrett Hoskey recovered the ball on the NHS 29 yard line. Stephenson scored his second touchdown four plays later on a 14-yard run, giving STC a 21-14 lead.
Newton fumbled on its following drive after marching to the STC 10 yard line. Senior Eric Lux recovered the fumble for the Trojans. However, they punted back to Newton four plays later and Newton evened the contest on a touchdown.
STC answered on its next offensive play. Stephenson added his third touchdown after weaving through the Newton defense and up the sideline. He ran 64 yards for the score and ended up with 203 yards on 31 carries for the contest. The Trojans' extra-point attempt was blocked, so they led 27-21.
"We've got to be able to help (Stephenson) out," coach Hoskey said. "He had some big runs, but he had some losses, too. They were taking a lot of chances up front."
Netwon turned the ball over in the Trojans' end zone on the next drive. Kuhter, who has rarely played defense this season, intercepted the Cardinals' pass for a touchback. The next play for the Trojans became a controversial one.
Stephenson fumbled the ball while trying to gain extra yards on a short run. Lux and a Newton player dove on the ball and it appeared Lux had the ball. He even came out of the scrum with the ball, but the officials gave possession to Newton on the STC 20 yard line. The Cardinals scored a touchdown six plays later and converted the extra-point attempt, taking an eventual 28-27 lead.
"It was a one point loss, but it was a lot of things, not just the extra point," Hoskey said. "There were calls here and there. I thought the biggest thing might have been the fumble that Lux recovered. He's on the ball with both arms around it and they give it to (Newton). That was a huge call, because it gave them a short field."
South Tama will try to rebound this week as it hosts Saydel for its homecoming Friday night. Saydel enters the game 0-5 and has been outscored a combined 196-27 in its games this season. The game will start at 7 p.m.
"We have our homecoming this week," Hoskey said. "Our kids a