NORTH JUDSON — North Judson scored three touchdowns in the final two minutes and 38 seconds of the first half to turn a 7-6 lead into a 28-6 halftime advantage over the North Newton Spartans.
That scoring spurt proved to be the difference in as North Judson held on for a 34-12 win to improve to 3-0 on the season, while North Newton dropped to 1-2.
“It happened to us last week as well, but it was the third quarter against Rensselaer where it went from a competitive game to not,” said North Newton coach Scott Rouch. “I am proud on how we came out and took it to them in the second half, against good teams we have to learn how to play all four quarters.”
North Judson made a statement on its first drive of the game with its power running attack. The Blue Jays marched down the field 68 yards on 11 plays that was capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by J.J. Blount. Blount added the Point After Touchdown (PAT) and North Judson was up 7-0 six minutes into the game. But had to punt four plays later.
However, North Newton would get the ball back just 40 seconds later after recovering a fumble.
North Newton quarterback picked up 15 yards on six runs including a 1-yard touchdown plunge to answer back. The PAT failed and with 9:15 left to go in the second half, the Spartans trailed 7-6.
Neither team was able to do much on their second possessions, but after a face mask penalty called on the Spartans gave the Blue Jays a short field – North Judson took advantage.
It took North Judson just four plays to go 22 yards for its second touchdown of the game – a 6-yard touchdown run by Owen Frasure. North Judson added the PAT ad with 2:38 remaining in the first half the lead was 14-6.
The Spartans went three-and out on its next drive, and North Judson quickly added on to its lead with a 52-yard touchdown strike from Trey Hampton to Blount for a 21-6 lead.
North Newton fumbled on the ensuing kickoff but the Spartan defense held tough and forced North Judson to punt.
However, the North Newton offense was again stymied and failed to pick up a first down before punting the ball back to the Blue Jays.
On the final play of the half, Cheyenne Allen broke loose on a 60-yard touchdown run as the Blue Jays went up 28-6 at the break.
“You take away the end of the second quarter and this game is a 12-12 ballgame,” added Rouch. “At halftime I told the guys, they are waiting for you to give up.”
After picking up just three first downs in the first half, North Newton made some adjustments offensively and that showed on the Spartans’ first possession of the second half.
The Spartans marched down the field 80 yards on 14 plays converting on fourth down twice as quarterback Austin Goddard capped off the drive with a 29-yard rushing touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the Spartans trailed 28-12 with 4:02 left in the third quarter.
Goddard got the ball back to his team just a few seconds later recovering a fumble, but the Spartans’ drive ended seven plays later after failing to convert a fourth and six on the North Judson 27-yard line.
Goddard, who led the Spartans offensively and defensively picked up his second takeaway of the game by picking off a Hampton pass.
However two plays later Goddard tossed an interception as the Spartans were unable to cut into the deficit.
North Judson put the game on ice with a late touchdown, a 1-yard scoring run from Frasure as his team went up 34-12 with 1:24 remaining on the clock.
That would be the final scoring play of the game.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans’ next week as they take on Kankakee Valley (3-0).
“We are young on the line and we have struggled this year,” added Rouch. “We are playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores and we just have to keep improving. Next week isn’t going to be easy. Kankakee Valley is a 4A school and they are big and physical. They put it to Rensselaer, so they are a very good team.”