Garrett Baumhover ran for a touchdown and threw for three more as the Western Dubuque football team proved to be just too much for Waverly-Shell Rock. The Bobcats claimed a 28-9 win in their district game played at Buchman Field in Epworth, Sept. 18.

The Bobcats’ offense got off to an unusually slow start against the Go Hawks. It took a big play from the defense to wake the ‘Cats up and get them going. After earning just one first down on the opening drive of the game, Western Dubuque punted the ball away and a strong return by Waverly-Shell Rock gave the visitors the ball on the Bobcat 46-yard line. Two plays later, an energized Go Hawks team had the ball first and 10 at the 27. That’s when Sawyer Nauman stepped in to stop Asa Newsom behind the line of scrimmage and forced the Go Hawks to play behind the sticks the rest of their possession. Waverly-Shell Rock ended up trying a 38-yard field goal that failed.

The tide slowly shifted the Bobcats’ direction after their defense held the Go Hawks to a three-and-out. The ‘Cats fans went crazy watching the electrifying Tommy DeSollar take the punt return to the house, but a lonely yellow penalty flag back near the 20-yard line meant that Baumhover and the Bobcats’ offensive unit were just going to have to drive 82-yards for the game’s first touchdown. A nice mixture of runs and passes gave Western Dubuque second down and three inside the red zone at the 11-yard line. Try as they might, there was no way any Go Hawk was going to keep DeSollar out of the end zone this time. He dragged a defender across the goal line to put the Bobcats on the scoreboard on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Baumhover. Eric Monahan’s extra point was good and it was 7-0 Bobcats with 16.2 to play in the first quarter.

Both teams had issues moving the football in the second quarter until the Bobcats started their fifth drive of the game at the Go Hawks’ 45. Jacob Butcher collected a big first down on a screen play and DeSollar powered his way for a first down near the red zone and Tanner Nauman was tackled short of the goal line giving the Bobcats first-and-goal at the one. Baumhover calmly waltzed into the end zone untouched for a 14-0 Bobcat lead at halftime.

“Football is a beautiful game because it’s so complex in the sense that if one person missteps a play can look awful. It was just a little thing here and a little thing there in the first half,” said Justin Penner, head coach of the Bobcats. “We’re better than we played in the first half, I truly believe that, but still we gritted it out and found a way to win.”

The Go Hawks and received the kickoff to start the second half and drove to the five-yard line where they had first-and-goal but had to settle for a field goal.

Later in the third quarter, the Bobcats got their timing down and went 92-yards on 10 plays with the last 27 yards from Dakota Lau who received the touchdown pass from Baumhover to go up 21-3 with 51.5 seconds left in the third.

Monahan pinned the Go Hawks deep in their own territory when Newsom misplayed the kickoff and was tackled at the four. An illegal motion call moved the ball back to the two, but that’s when the Bobcats’ defense made their only mistake of the game, leaving the middle of the field wide open to allow McCrae Hagarty to run 98 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was broken up by Lau to keep the score at 21-9.

The Bobcats finished off the scoring in this game when Baumhover rolled to his left and lobbed a strike to Lau who had gotten behind the defense for an easy 25-yard touchdown with over eight minutes to play in the game, holding a 28-9 lead.

“We didn’t start very well, so we had to keep doing our jobs. Reading our keys, doing what we do and we ended up getting the win. We were just grinding it out,” said DeSollar after the game. “It’s awesome to be a part of this team. We didn’t know if we were going to have the opportunity to play this year and being 3-1 is a pretty good start. We just have to stay humble and keep grinding.”

“Our defense has stepped up huge. We’d love to have that 98-yard touchdown back obviously because outside of that they absolutely dominated the football game,” said Penner. “Before tonight we were 1-2 against Waverly-Shell Rock, so getting our second program win against a perennial powerhouse feels pretty good. Being 3-1 is pretty neat too.”

Not only did the defense play well, but the offense did a good job of finishing off drives and finishing off quarters scoring touchdowns with under a minute to play in each of the first three quarters.

“I like to be able to put daggers in people,” said Penner, referring to putting teams away by putting points on the board. “When you watch the NFL and those teams that score in their two-minute drill or at the end of both halves, those are the teams that find a way to win football games and we want to be that kind of team for sure.”

The Bobcats still have a long way to go as they have three games on the schedule before the playoffs start. Waterloo East (0-4) is the Bobcats’ opponent this week for homecoming on Sept. 25 and then it’s on the road for the final two games of the season when they battle West Delaware (4-1) Oct. 2 and Decorah (4-0) Oct. 9.

WD’s leaders were: passing — Baumhover 22-of-37, 289 yards, three TDs; rushing — Zinn 14-for-54 yards, Butcher 10-for-43, Grayson Gardner 2-for-41, Baumhover 5-for-26 and one TD, Sawyer Nauman 4-for-24; receiving — DeSollar 9-for-111 and one TD, Lau 4-for-85 and two TDs, Zinn 1-for-29, Tanner Nauman 2-for-25, Butcher 3-for-23, Logan Brosius 2-for-12, Bryn Vantiger 1-for-4; kick-off returns – Lau 3-for-68; punt returns – DeSollar 2-for-1; extra points — Monahan 4-for-4; punting — Baumhover 4-for-127; fumble recoveries — Chase Boulting and Evan Surface one; tackles — Sawyer Nauman nine, Dakota Hoffman and Lau four, Dominic Frost, Owen Hatcher, Cole Phillips and Ryker Staudenmaier 2.5, Surface 1.5, Brenden Begle, Brosius and DeSollar one, Chase Anderson, Baumhover, Butcher, Ryan Cook and Devin Neuhaus 0.5.