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Redhawks’ season ends in OT heartbreaker vs Newman 31-28

November 1, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

The North Tama Redhawks saw a 21-0 halftime lead prove to be not enough against the Newman Catholic Knights as they fell 31-28 in an overtime thriller in Mason City on Friday, Oct. 26.

A change was seen for the defense as Luke Pennell was unable to play due to surgery, with his teammates carrying his jersey with them onto the field. Despite not having a key player available, the Redhawks were able to jump to their impressive lead with a couple of lineup changes.

"We moved Jack Dostal at linebacker and then used Gabe Kopriva in the secondary," coach Tom McDermott said. "[Kopriva] has been playing well for us and getting better as the season went on. We thought he did a good job in the defensive secondary."

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Tate Payne opened scoring the Redhawks with a 55-yard reception against the Newman Catholic Knights on Friday, Oct. 26.

The Redhawks scored late in the first quarter with a 55-yard reception from Hale Hulme to Tate Payne to put North Tama up over the home team. As the second quarter began, Tyler Morrison added on a three-yard run, followed by a two-yard score in the closing seconds of the quarter as the Redhawks confidently went into halftime up 21-0.

"We executed well in that first half for the most part," McDermott said. "We had some mistakes, but we were able to complete some passes we thought could be run against their defense. In one play, we had trips on one side. They didn't cover well and we were able to complete a touchdown to Tate. Skyler had a good reception for us. We switched up running back with Tyler, Zach and Noah to play on our strength of running. We didn't let them get any big plays with our defense to control the momentum of that first half."

As the second half commenced and the Redhawks received, the drive was broke up by an interception that would cost a big run to the Newman Knights. Shaken, the offense grew cold on the next drive as a new wind kicked in for the home team. Turnovers continued to plague North Tama as another interception turned into a 80 yard run on the subsequent drive. All of a sudden, the score was 21-14 and feeling significantly smaller.

"We had mistakes with that interception before the first touchdown to give them new life," McDermott said. "We drove well again later and then pitched it away again. They have a good back in Fitzgerald, who was able to get loose for that big run to cut our lead down. I don't know if there were any big changes outside of those plays. We moved the ball well with that last quarter touchdown with mixing up who was carrying. Newman is a good team."

The defense continued to have struggles with the renewed Knights offense, unable to stop another Newman touchdown in the fourth quarter. Ready to put their problems behind them, the Redhawks stopped the two-point play to maintain their lead 21-20. For the first time in the half, the offense made its way down the field, slowly to bleed out the clock, and scored a touchdown courtesy of a one-yard run by Hulme. Up 28-20 with 2:14 left, the fate of the game lie on the shoulders of the defense. Despite forcing 4th and long several times, a facemask penalty and missed coverage put Newman in a position to score not only the touchdown, but also a two-point conversion to tie and force overtime. After Newman was held to a field goal,, the Redhawk offense went for the touchdown to win the game. A controversial call by the refs maintained that North Tama had not scored on 4th down, declaring Newman the winner.

"We should have scored on that third down," McDermott said. "We had a play and Tyler got tripped up a little. They had a good offense and felt fortunate to have held them to a field goal. We saw an opportunity to win the game and went for it because our players and coaches wanted to. We all still felt we scored on that play."

Hale Hulme lead his team not only at the quarterback position but also in rushing yard with 79 yards on 15 carries. Morrison followed with 78 yards on 28 carries and Noah Bond with 30 yards on six carries. The Redhawks were able to get their passing game going-mainly in the first half- with Zach Greiner leading with 67 yards on three receptions to go with his 27 yards rushing. Taye Payne had one 55-yard reception from Hulme for a touchdown, followed by Skyler Staker with 25 yards on one reception.

On defense, Ryan McLean led with 7.5 tackles, followed by Hulme with 6.5 tackes, Greiner with 5.5 tackles, plus Bond and Staker with five tackles each. Gabe Kopriva had one fumble recovery in the game.

"As I've said many times, the senior leadership has been outstanding," McDermott said. "They believed in themselves,believed in their team. I was quite honored to coach them and see the progress they made when many people didn't think they could accomplish much."

The Redhawks end their season with a 8-2 record, including 5-1 in District play to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in six years. Over the season, North Tama put together 3686 total yards of offense (369 yard average a game) and 55 touchdowns while holding opponents to an average of 189 yards per game. Though 12 seniors will move on from the program, McDermott is confident next year's team will have the tools necessary to succeed.

"The potential is there for our team to be very good next year," McDermott said. "Our junior class doesn't have the numbers the seniors do, but we have a good nucleus of good football players. They'll be good leaders for a small sophomore class. Our freshman have good athletes that will be in the mix. There won't be the depth we've enjoyed this year, but there are names there that can make for a great season."

Coach McDermott is unsure of his status for next season as of Sunday, Oct. 28 after taking over the head coaching position in May for the first time in 30 years. The program will also say farewell to assistant coach Brent Billerbeck, who has accepted another position.



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