No. 3 North Tama knocks off No. 2 Newman in UNI-Dome rematch
By Mark Pawlak
Central Iowa Press
CEDAR FALLS - Small chunk, big chunk and then an even bigger chunk, North Tama's offense moved up and down the field in the first half.
A 28-7 halftime advantage Friday night turned into a Saturday morning prize.
The third-ranked Redhawks will be making a third straight trip to the state semifinals after a 35-20 victory over second-ranked Newman Catholic in the quarterfinals of the Class A state football playoffs at the UNI-Dome.
North Tama (12-0) advances to next Friday's semifinals where it will face WACO at the UNI-Dome.
The Redhawks had four first-half possessions and reached the end zone on all four.
"Offensively we just did an outstanding job in the first half. We saw what they were giving us and they were bound and determined to not let us run," said North Tama head coach Brent Thoren at the conclusion of a contest that ended after midnight. "Our receivers just did a great job and Brendon (Boerm) did an awesome job distributing the football around.
"We kept them off-balance a little bit, and we've got some playmakers on the outside. Good things happen when you get the ball in their hands."
Redhawk senior quarterback Boerm had a monster first half and finished 24-for-36 passing for 246 yards with three touchdowns. He added 21 rushes for 152 yards and two scores.
Lucas Hefty led North Tama with 10 receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Cizek had eight catches for 74 yards and a score.
The Redhawks led by three touchdowns at halftime and kept the Knights (11-1) chasing the rest of the way.
A Boerm 8-yard touchdown run on a fourth-down play in the third quarter stomped out any momentum Newman gained from scoring on the opening possession of the second half.
The Redhawk defense forced three turnovers on the night - interceptions by Tyler Zook, Jacob Wrage and Boerm. North Tama allowed Newman's offense to gain some yards, but the Redhawks held a comfortable margin on the scoreboard the entire second half and prevented the Knights from breaking a big play.
Newman saw a fourth-down pass with less than 2 minutes remaining fall incomplete to seal North Tama's return trip to the UNI-Dome for the semifinals.
"Our coaches did an outstanding job with schemes and getting our kids ready to play on a short turnaround," Thoren said. "It's all up to the kids and the kids just made plays."
North Tama's offense racked up just under 300 yards in the first half (299) on 39 plays with 15 first downs and did not punt. Boerm entered the intermission 20-for-25 passing for 225 yards to go along with 70 rushing yards. Cizek had eight grabs for 74 yards, while Hefty had seven receptions for 73 yards.
The Redhawks' opening drive went 68 yards in eight plays with Cizek bringing in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Boerm. Boerm had mishandled the shotgun snap, but recovered and was able to shovel the ball to Cizek.
"Kind of like a Brett Favre move, I guess," Cizek said. "It was a broken play, and you just have to adapt."
Newman Catholic missed a 27-yard field goal on its opening possession and North Tama's offense again got rolling. The Redhawks needed 14 plays to travel 80 yards to take a 13-0 advantage on a 1-yard Boerm touchdown run.
Hefty snagged a 3-yard touchdown pass from Boerm with 7:18 left in the half (7-play, 65-yard drive) and North Tama then added a 10-play touchdown drive, capped by another 3-yard touchdown catch by Hefty, this one on fourth down.
Ben Buffington had 113 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries for the Knights. Quarterback Gabe Dunn had a pair of touchdown passes to Drew Verstegen.
The Redhawks saw their season end last year in the semifinals with a 28-26 loss to Newman.
"After last year, being able to come back and get revenge against these guys is a great feeling," Cizek said. "Especially at this time, a late-night game, it's prime-time. It's a great feeling."
WACO (12-0) advanced with a 34-8 win over Lisbon. Next Friday's other semifinal has Gehlen Catholic (11-1) against Madrid (12-0).