CASCADE — The Northeast football team provided some late fireworks.
But it was the play of hosting Cascade during the first three quarters that made the difference in Friday’s 1A District 4 contest.
The Cougars scored on three of their four first-half drives and used a nine-point third quarter to build a 29-6 lead over the Rebels.
Northeast, though, made things interesting in the final stanza.
The Rebels scored twice in short order to cut their deficit in half and had the ball with a chance to get even closer.
Cascade, though, foiled Northeast’s comeback bid with a fourth-down stop and a late insurance touchdown to wrap up a 36-18 victory.
The Rebels found themselves in an early hole.
Northeast was forced to punt on its first drive, while the Cougars marched down the field in eight plays — all but two of them runs — before Colby Holmes plunged in for a six-yard touchdown.
The Rebels’ ensuing drive started strong with a first-down completion to Cade Hughes, but a high snap moved Northeast back and the visitors were forced to punt again.
The Cougars went right back to the ground. One big run moved Cascade back into Northeast territory, while another went 32 yards for a touchdown. This time, the extra point was blocked, but the lead had grown to 13-0.
The Cougars got the ball back again after another punt, but this time the Northeast defense stood firm.
Cascade got as close as the Rebels’ 23, but could get no closer as a fourth-down pass was knocked away.
Northeast made the most of the change of possession. Two plays into their new drive, quarterback Riley Wolfe found Cade Hughes for a 28-yard pass into Cougars territory.
After a pitch to Dakota Stevenson netted another first down, Wolfe and Hughes connected for another pass-and-catch, this time to the Cascade 14.
Three plays later, the Rebels were in the end zone with Ty Schmidt handling the final yard for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but the Rebels were back within a touchdown, 13-6.
The Cougars, though, made sure the momentum was short-lived.
Cascade returned the ensuing kickoff past midfield and ended the first-half scoring by having a pass deflect off one Cougars player’s hands and into the waiting arms of another for a touchdown. The extra point was good, and the hosts went into the half up 20-6.
A field goal on the Cougars’ first possession of the second half increased the lead again and the Cougars appeared to break things open when they grabbed a Northeast pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.
The Rebels, though, fought back in the fourth quarter.
A well-executed screen pass to Stevenson gave the Rebels’ senior running back nothing but open field and a convoy of blockers for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the first play of Cascade’s next drive, the running back was unable to corral a pitch. Instead, Hughes fell on it to give the Rebels the ball right back at the Cougars’ 29.
Two plays later, Wolfe found Hughes with a pass and the sophomore shrugged off a tackler and sprinted the rest of the way for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 29-18.
The Northeast defense responded by forcing a three-and-out on the Cougars’ next drive.
The Rebels’ possession, though, also ended without a first down and Cascade stopped a potential fake punt pass to take over possession.
The Cougars took advantage, scoring a final touchdown through the air to finish off the scoring.
Wolfe completed half of his 26 attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
One of the touchdowns went to Hughes, who finished with eight receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown.
Stevenson had the other touchdown part of a two-reception day for 55 yards. The senior also picked up 66 yards on the ground (Schmidt had 11 yards and a rushing touchdown).
Senior Atzin Dondiego led the way with 11 tackles — four of them solo and two for loss — while Stevenson had 10 tackles (also two for loss), Hughes nine to go with a fumble recovery, and Liam Maze seven.
The Rebels hit the road again Friday and face a stiff test as they try to hand fifth-ranked West Branch its first loss.
The Bears have been very balanced in their 6-0 start. They rank second in the district with exactly 1,000 passing yards, while leading the district with 14 touchdown passes.
West Branch have nearly reached 1,000 yards rushing, too — the Bears are at 954 yards — while adding nine rushing touchdowns.
The two teams are looking to play their first full game against each other since meeting in the state playoffs in 2003. Last year’s game was called after just one quarter due to storms.
Cascade 36, Northeast 18
Cascade 13 7 9 7 36
Northeast 0 6 0 12 18
Team Stats Northeast Cascade
First Downs N/A N/A
Rushing Att. 26 32
Rushing Yards 53 225
Passing 13-27 9-16
Completion % 48% 56%
Passing Yards 209 132
Total Offense 262 357
Penalties N/A N/A
Passing – Riley Wolfe, 13-26, 209 yards, two touchdowns; Dakota Stevenson, 0-1.
Rushing – Ty Schmidt, 4-11, one touchdown; Stevenson, 19-66; Wolfe, 3-(-24).
Receiving – Cade Hughes, 8-130, one touchdown; Trey McAleer, 3-24; Stevenson, 2-55, one touchdown.
Tackles – Atzin Dondiego, 11 (four solo); Caleb Gruhn, one; Hughes, nine (five solo), one fumble recovery; Kenny King, three (one solo); Liam Maze, seven; McAleer, four (two solo); Jacob Mickelson, four (one solo); Samuel Moraetes, one; Maclane Murrell, four (two solo); Schmidt, five (two solo); Ethan Snyder, four (two solo); Stevenson, 10 (five solo).