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Big first quarter lifts Cardinal Newman over Rancho Cotate

An electric first quarter was all Cardinal Newman needed to remain undefeated.

The defending state champions used three early touchdowns from Ethan Kelly, as No. 5 Cardinal Newman earned a 24-6 victory over No. 14 Rancho Cotate for its third consecutive win in this spring football campaign.

Cardinal Newman now boasts victories over Windsor, Vanden and Rancho Cotate.

On the first drive, Kelly and quarterback Jordan Cooke showed how valuable their connection is, and that connection turned out to be one of the pivotal forces in this huge victory between two top 25 teams in the Bay Area.

Kelly took an 8-yard pass from Cooke for a score to put Cardinal Newman up 7-0 with 8:16 left in the first quarter, but that was just the beginning for Kelly.

The senior receiver hauled in another 8-yard touchdown pass from Cooke, which made it 14-0 Cardinal Newman with 4:13 left in the first. Cooke’s third and final score was another 8-yard gain – this time on a sweep – as the lead was extended to 21-0 with 49 seconds left in the opening frame.

Julian Cortina capped off the scoring for Cardinal Newman on a 26-yard field goal midway through the third quarter.

All Kelly needed was four catches for 36 receiving yards and two touchdowns, adding 9 rushing yards and a score on four carries.

Cooke completed 12 of 20 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Washington State bound Tsion Nunnally led Cardinal Newman with 43 yards on five catches. Rhett Pavitt had three catches for 25 yards.

Nathan Phelps finished with 18 carries for 80 yards, including two carries that went for 10-plus yards.

In addition to the quick burst offensively, Cardinal Newman’s defense surrendered a single-digit point total for the second time in three contests, with its six points allowed coming two weeks after giving up seven in the season-opening win against Windsor.

Mitch Russell totaled three sacks, while Bailey Ayre had two. Conor Williams recovered a fumble.

Rancho Cotate was paced by dual-threat quarterback Ryan Kane, who scored its lone touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter on a 39-yard run down the right sideline.

Kane threw for 44 yards and also ran for 44.

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