Posted: Nov 23, 2022 10:38 PM
MONROE — Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes were still one night away, so the Newtown High School football team feasted on the empanadas. The Nighthawks converted five straight errors by Masuk to clinch a 46-12 road victory the night before Thanksgiving.
The Nighthawks (9-1 overall and undefeated in conference play) clinched the Southwest Conference season championship and will host a Class L quarterfinal round state playoff game on Tuesday, November 29. at 6:30 pm (opponent to be determined). Newtown moved up to No. 2 in the state rankings and will finish among one of the top spots pending the results of the Turkey Day games.
Newtown gobbled up a combination of six fumbles and interceptions in the second half alone to crush the Panthers and bolster their playoff positioning.
It was close to half time. Newtown looked set to pull away early as Andrew Swierbut returned the ensuing kickoff 33 yards to the NHS 48-yard line, and on the next play, quarterback Dylan Magazu scrambled 52 yards for a score. Simple as that, it was 7-0, just 23 seconds later.
Magazu then lined up at wide receiver and had his first varsity touchdown reception on a 31-yard pass from backup quarterback Jayden Cordova. The extra point missed but it was 13-0 with 7:11 left in the first quarter. That was the marker towards the second.
But just when Masuk’s hopes of victory seemed to be dashed, the Panthers rallied. Quarterback Dylan Jackson connected with Rob Klein on a 31-yard TD pass on the first play of the second quarter. The kick was blocked, leaving the score 13-6 Nighthawks just eight seconds into the stanza.
Jackson connected with Klein again, this time for a 69-yard pass and TD catch, making it 13-12 with 6:38 remaining before the half. The Panthers went for two points but were stopped and the score remained level at halftime.
Masuk attempted onside kicks after the two TDs, but Newtown’s Brady Macey was there to corral the two each time.
Turnovers were dished up in abundance in the third and fourth quarters, and for extra gravy, Newtown served it up. Magazu recovered a fumble at the Newtown 40-yard line that led Caleb Smith to a 16-yard TD run on third down. Swierbut’s extra point was good and NHS led 20-12.
On the ensuing drive, Swierbut intercepted a pass at Masuk’s 32, prompting Magazu to run six yards to the end zone with 51 seconds left in the third. The kick was blocked and Newtown led 26-12 going into the quarter.
Jack Chappa’s fumble recovery at the Masuk 44, less than a minute into the fourth quarter, set up Cordova’s 22-yard touchdown throw to Mark Sokk. It was 33-12 with 8:29 to play.
Swierbut’s second INT became a pick six as he ran the ball back 41 yards for a score, making it 39-12 with 7:30 remaining.
Brock Dukate recovered a fumble when the Masuk hit the quarterback and it bounced right into his arms. That led to another Magazu touchdown, this time a 29-yard rushing play for six. The extra point ended the scoring with 4:25 to go.
Newtown got another fumble recovery when Matt Lasorsa pounced on the loose pigskin at the Panther 23 with 3:36 remaining.
Newtown coach Bobby Pattison noted that the Nighthawks had great field position all night and took advantage of short field chances in the second half.
“I’m happy with the kids’ performance,” Pattison said.
Masuk, despite the loss, has qualified for the Class MM playoffs with a 7-3 mark.
Sports editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at [email protected]
Brady Macey (No. 4) returns the ball after recovering an onside kick in Newtown’s 46-12 win at Masuk on November 23. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Dylan Magazu did a little bit of everything with rushing touchdowns, a receiving TD and a fumble recovery.