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RGR | Ramos, Hulse lead Newton past Arkansas City to capture first win of 2022: Recap and analysis
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NEWTON — It’s a late interception by Newton (1-4) safety Niko Ramos and a 44-yard beast mode-esque touchdown run by running back James Hulse that the Railers faithful will remember of the team’s first victory of 2022 — a 26-13 defeat of non-league foe Arkansas City (1-4) last Friday night.
“One of the things [we’ve] talked about is that we're a good team,” Newton head coach Greg Slade said. “But we can't win games if we make mistakes. And we didn't turn the ball over, we had very [few] penalties in the second half, and that made our offense work. And then our defense … came out and played in the second half.”
The first half was a slow one for both teams as they played to a 0-0 stalemate until 1:58 left in the second quarter when Ark City punched it into the end zone on a swinging gate pass from wide receiver Cadon Clark on fourth-and-goal. At the break, the Bulldogs led the Railers on their homecoming, 7-0.
“We had to cut out the mistakes,” Slade said when asked about his squad’s halftime adjustments. “We had some penalties in the first half that hurt [us]. And that's the thing we talked about the most was [that] we can move the ball, we were moving the ball, but then we'd have a penalty.”
Those errors would disappear in the second half as Newton went on to outscore Ark City 26-6 in the final 24 minutes of action. It started with a dominating 14-play drive (with 13 rush attempts) for the Railers, capped off by a quarterback sneak by Colby Gomez.
On the ensuing Bulldog drive, Ramos snagged his second interception of the night, leading to a Collin Hershberger field goal. Two drives later, Newton found the end zone again after a 10-play drive (all rushes) ended with a two-yard keeper by Gomez for his second touchdown on the ground.
And after a quick three-and-out for Ark City, Hulse took the first play of the following Railer possession 44 yards to the house to virtually put the game away. The Bulldogs would add a touchdown of their own and Newton would tack on another Hershberger field goal before the contest went final for a 13-point Railer victory.
“We didn’t play well last week,” Ramos said. “But we knew we had to come back even stronger, and we just played our hearts out. I watched a ton of film, we all watched film, and we just played great.”
Hulse rushed for a career-high 105 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown for Newton. Gomez tallied 78 yards rushing on 19 carries with two scores.
It was a tale of two halves for Newton.
The key play you likely forgot:
With four minutes left in the third quarter, Ark City racked up back-to-back penalties — one of them a personal foul — on its drive immediately following Newton’s first touchdown to tie the game up at seven. This moved the Bulldog offense back from its own 17 to its own three, and three plays later Ramos stepped in front of a Jordy Pierce pass to give the Railers the ball at the Ark City 12 and set up the go-ahead field goal by Hershberger. The Bulldogs would never be able to bring the score to level again.
The turning point:
With 6:56 left in the fourth quarter, Gomez capped off Newton’s second drive of 10 or more plays in the second half with a two-yard touchdown to extend his team’s lead to 17-7. The drive took almost half of the final period and left Ark City with little room to breathe. It was arguably the most impressive drive put together by the Railers, given the circumstances and stage of the game, all season.
Hulse put up over 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career as the Newton ground game found far more success than it had all season prior to Friday night. This confidence boost comes at an ideal time as the Railers gear up to face Salina South and Haysville Campus — two teams sitting at the bottom of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 standings with Newton.
Elsewhere in confidence boosts, the Newton secondary has been beaten and battered all of 2022, but it proved to be the difference maker in the team’s first win of the year. Ramos’s two interceptions and Pierce’s 69 passing yards proves a dominant night for a unit that’s been desperately searching for one.
The area of concern:
First-half penalties, as Slade noted, stunted any opportunity for Newton to make noise on the scoreboard early on. Had those costly mistakes been against any team like the Railers will see in the postseason, that hole would’ve gotten much deeper than 7-0 — and fast.
Full offensive stats:
To see full offensive stats from this game, click/tap the button below.
Newton is set to host Salina South for senior night and pink-out on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Fischer Field Stadium. The Cougars are 0-5 and are coming off a 42-7 loss to 5A’s fourth-ranked Hutchinson.