Knights outlast Warriors in Iowa football clash, 48-35

BREAKING AWAY — North Union running back Bryer Prochniak (6) sprints by Newman Catholic safety Emmett Casey (34) for a 79-yard touchdown run during Iowa Class A, District 2 football action Friday night in Armstrong. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ARMSTRONG — Iowa Class A District 2 football fans expecting a high-octane shootout during Friday night’s clash between the North Union Warriors and the Newman Catholic Knights of Mason City did not exit Armstrong’s gridiron disappointed.

Running back Bryer Prochniak eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark for the game and 1,000 for his junior season, while quarterback Carter Morphew proved 4 yards shy of 100 yards both throwing and running to fuel North Union’s 409 yards of offense.

Oddly enough, the Warriors fell 13 points shy of a victory as the visiting Knights racked up 482 total yards, including 324 on the ground, spearheaded by the 1-2 backfield punch of James Jennings and Jack Maznio, to pull off a 48-35 triumph during Week 8.

“We can score with the best of them, but we haven’t been able to stop many teams. That’s the story of our season,” said North Union head coach Matt Ernster. “We held the fourth and final playoff spot coming into tonight’s game, but the chances are that we won’t qualify for the postseason with the loss.

“If we don’t make the playoffs, we’ll travel to Manson for a regular-season game next Friday night.”

“It was all about field position during the first quarter, and after that, we played them even (on the scoreboard),” said Prochniak, who ran for a game-best 204 yards and one TD on 26 totes to improve his seasonal rushing total to 1,066 in eight games. The 175-pound speedster also caught a 40-yard scoring pass from Morphew in the fourth quarter.

Prochniak’s post-game analysis hit the target as the Knights capitalized on defensive lineman Logan Larsen’s fumble recovery at the Warriors’ 28 on the first play from scrimmage.

Quarterback Max Burt, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 158 yards, zipped a 12-yarder to Jennings before Maznio plowed his way over right guard from 2 yards out for six points. Burt then kicked the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 9:08 left in the opening quarter.

Morphew, who connected on 6 of 13 throws for 107 yards to complement 96 yards on eight totes, combined with Prochniak to handle North Union’s ground-and-pound attack on the ensuing possession.

Prochniak, who also made three receptions for 49 yards, pocketed a stretched-out one-handed catch for 10 yards during the scoring drive before Aidan Fries corraled Morphew’s 22-yard fade pass for a TD to whittle the gap to 7-6 with 4:55 left in the first frame.

Jennings, who finished with a team-high 142 rushing yards, and Maznio, who netted 138 more on the ground, combined to move the sticks during the Knights’ next series. The 200-pound Burt hammered his way across the goal line from 1 yard out before adding the PAT kick for a 14-6 lead with 1:15 left in the first quarter.

Burt then intercepted Morphew at the North Union 42 and needed only one snap under center to toss a 42-yard TD spiral to Nash Holmgaard. Burt’s kick extended the lead to 21-6 with only 42 seconds left in the opening segment.

Ironically, the second period proved scoreless before the two district rivals combined to erupt for 55 second-half points in a high-scoring shootout.

Maznio needed only one handoff to burst up the middle and sprinted by the Warriors’ defensive secondary for a 54-yard TD to open the third quarter.

Prochniak, however, matched firepower with firepower by intercepting a Burt pass at the home team’s 20-yard line. Prochniak then displayed his state-medalist sprinting speed by galloping 79 yards for a TD. Morphew’s PAT kick trimmed North Union’s gap to 27-13 with 4:43 left in the third.

Jennings weaved his way 9 yards to paydirt before Burt rumbled across the goal line for a 2-point conversion to answer with eight points for Newman Catholic before Morphew countered.

Morphew faked a handoff to Prochniak, slipped a tackle, broke another and sped 62 yards for six more points with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Burt counter-punched by zipping a pivotal 39-yard strike to Toby Keston to reach the North Union 1. Burt produced his second rushing TD from 1 yard out by following a rugby scrum up the middle for a 41-19 lead with 7:54 left in regulation.

Colin Rasch’s fumble recovery at the Knights’ 31 then quickly led to Morphew’s 31-yard scoring spiral to Fries. Preston Guerdet then caught Morphew’s 2-point conversion pass to whittle the Warriors’ deficit to 41-27 with 5:04 to go.

Newman Catholic literally countered with Jennings’ 26-yard score off a counter before Burt kicked the PAT to re-establish an 11-point gap at 48-27 at the 3:50 mark.

Morphew then hit a sprinting Prochniak between the numbers for a 40-yard sideline score before the Warriors’ quarterback ran for two more points with 1:33 remaining.

Maznio’s 15-yard burst for the Knights’ 18th and final first down allowed the time to elapse as Newman Catholic held on for the 48-35 victory.

Holmgaard finished with four catches for 87 yards and one TD for the Knights, while Fries’ two receptions were both for scores and a combined 53 yards.

Burt and Jennings each contributed one interception to Newman’s defensive mix.

Newman 21 0 14 13 — 48

N. Union 6 0 13 16 — 35


First downs: Newman 18; North Union 12. Rushing: Newman 47-324; North Union 36-302. Passing: Newman 10-15-1-158; North Union 6-13-2-107. Fumbles-lost: North Union 1-1; Newman 2-1. Penalties: North Union 5-55; Newman 2-34.


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