FRIDAY FOOTBALL: Cline leads N-C to Senior Night victory
Kevin Cline was Newton-Conover's "X factor" on Friday night against West Caldwell.
Whenever the Red Devils needed a big play, they got it from their junior quarterback. He rushed 14 times for 177 yards and passed for another 82 yards in Newton's 57-30 Senior Night rout of West Caldwell.
Newton-Conover (5-6 2-5) capped a frustrating season by posting a 50-plus point performance Friday.
It didn't come without a challenge from West Caldwell (0-11, 0-8), which was last winless in 2008 and has struggled through seven straight losing seasons.
In the first quarter, the Warriors made it look easy. An eight-play, 80-yard drive led by Mekhi Dula's 37-yard run. His six-yard run put West Caldwell up 6-0 with 8:24 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Red Devils (5-6, 2-5) struck back. Cline scored his first touchdown, giving N-C a 7-6 advantage with 5:49 to play in the opening quarter of a wild start in the season finale.
On the following drive, the Warriors' Tyler Dula ripped off a 45-yard run to the Red Devils' 5-yard line. Aaron Rowe's five yard touchdown run gave the Warriors a 12-7 lead — their second lead of the evening.
By the time the second quarter had rolled around, both teams were on their way to a shootout.
Cline threw the first of two scores to give the Red Devils the lead back. He went 41 yards on a pass to running back Sam England, followed by Matt Coulter's two-point conversion run to give the Red Devils a 15-12 lead.
Not to be outdone, West Caldwell took the lead one last time. Quarterback Robert Caldwell ripped off a 48-yard scoring run giving the Warriors a 19-15 at the second quarter's 7:52 mark.
From there, Newton-Conover scored 21 unanswered points, starting with Chakeem Hickman's 22-yard run. Cline added a 16-yard touchdown run, and rhe Red Devils led 29-19 at the half.
"I was really impressed with how we moved the football," said N-C coach Nick Bazzle. "I wished we had played a little bit better defensively, but overall, we controlled the line of scrimmage".
Cline went over the 100-yard mark in the second half, adding a 42-yard run to help the Red Devils increase its third quarter advantage to 36-19.
"Thank God Kevin has another year here," Bazzle said. "I am just getting more and more impressed with Kevin Cline every day."
West Caldwell added only 11 points after building a four-point lead late in the first half. The Warriors offensively were held to less then 100 yards in the second half by the Red Devils defense, which improved in the second half.
Cline added a 25-yard pass to increase the Red Devils' advantage to 43-22 late in the game.
Coulter added a five-yard score early in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 41 yards on seven carries.
The Red Devils totaled 386 yards, 177 of which came from Cline.
"I played good," Cline said. "It was one of the best games I played all year, none of which would've happened had it not been for my offensive line".
Cline finished 3-for-4 for 82 yards passing and a pair of scores. He rushed for three scores.
West Caldwell running backs Rowe and Mekhi Dula combined for 227 yards on 23 carries.
With Bunker Hill's 35-7 loss to Bandys, Newton-Conover's playoff chances improve. They will await the brackets, which will come out this weekend.
Check back with observernewsonline.com for playoff pairings.