The Western Dubuque football team scored 52 points in the first half on its way to posting a school-record 65 points and crushed Hempstead, 65-35, on Buchman Field in Epworth, Sept. 17.
“That was a lot of fun. When we first started this thing about eight years ago, we wanted to be an uptempo-style offense. We wanted to be very simple in nature so we could just get after it. Put your foot on the gas pedal and go,” said Justin Penner, head coach. “So tonight we reverted back to what I think we are good at. We put in a pretty simple game plan and it was just exciting to see the kids really enjoy this tonight. Celebrating with their teammates in the end zone and then celebrating with the coaches on the sideline as they were coming off the field. Not just after the game, but every time we scored.”
The Bobcats did a lot of celebrating in this one. From their opening possession, they made it very clear they wanted to get the tempo going as they took the opening kick-off and went 75 yards on nine plays in just 3:10. The Bobcats gained three first downs during the drive and scored the game’s opening touchdown when Jack Clemens found a wide-out Andrew Oltmanns on a 31-yard pass play. Caden Abresch’s extra point gave the Bobcats an early 7-0 lead.
Hempstead quickly answered with a touchdown of their own, on a 46-yard pass play from Noah Pettinger to Charlie Belser. Luc Montocchio’s kick was good and the game was tied at 7-7.
Two plays later Spencer Zinn got free in front of the Bobcats’ sideline and raced 57 yards for a touchdown. 14-7 Bobcats.
The Bobcats defense wanted to make a statement and created a game-changing turnover when Tanner Nauman recovered a fumble at the Western Dubuque 49.
Four plays later, Zinn crashed into the endzone to put the home team up 21-7 with just under three minutes to play in the first quarter.
Already getting the feeling that this one was going to be a shootout, Dubuque Hempstead knew they needed to do their best to answer each Bobcat touchdown with a touchdown.
Proving they were up to the challenge, the Mustangs quickly responded after Dontrell Harris returned the kickoff to the Bobcats’ 27. Two plays later Pettinger threw a 23-yard scoring strike to Luke Odefey closing the margin to 21-14.
With 1:53 left to play in the first quarter, the Bobcats took the ball from their 35-yard line and marched down the field. The Mustangs’ defense stiffened forcing a fourth-and-five from their own 30-yard line. All the Bobcats would do is have Clemens find Daviyon Gaston open behind the Mustangs’ secondary for a walk-in 30-yard touchdown to give them a 27-14 lead with 10:52 left in the half.
Things continued to be fast and furious scoring-wise in this one. Hempstead smashed the ball in from the one on a touchdown carry by Montocchio just 2:40 later. The extra point made it a 27-21 game.
Clemens kept the Bobcats’ offense clicking, needing just three plays and 42 seconds to go 57 yards for a 33-21 lead. The big play was Clemens’ 41-yard strike to Oltmanns. Once again the Bobcats’ defense was able to stop the Mustangs. This time they forced a punt and started their next drive at the Bobcat 44. After runs by Caleb Klein and Grant Glausser put the ball at the Mustang 43, Clemens hooked up with Klein on a catch and run to the 13. After a defensive pass interference call moved the ball to the eight Zinn did the rest, 39-21.
With 5:04 left before halftime, Hempstead was looking to get one more score before the break. Pettinger ran in from the four and the extra point got them within 11, 39-28.
However, the Bobcats had other ideas even though they started their next drive at their own six with 3:10 on the clock. After a run by Zinn and a pass to Nick Bryant, the Bobcats were at their own 21. A 20-yard pass to Gaston advanced the ball to the 44. Four plays later, Zinn hammered the ball into the end zone on a five-yard run. The extra point was good and with 55.5 left before halftime, the Bobcats were up 46-28.
Then Ryker Staudenmaier recovered an onside kick which Glausser cashed in for a three-yard touchdown as the Bobcats headed into halftime up 52-28.
Looking to prove that the first half wasn’t a fluke, the Bobcats kept Hempstead from getting a first down on their first possession of the second half. The offense kept clicking as their ninth offensive drive of the night resulted in their ninth touchdown of the game. Zinn and Glausser took care of most of the yards on the ground, but it was Clemens finding Oltmanns all alone behind the Mustangs’ defense on a 28-yard touchdown pass, 59-28.
On the visitor’s next possession, the Bobcats’ coaching staff sniffed out a pass play the Mustangs were going to run and Dominic Frost ran the route better than the receiver, turning it into a ‘pick six’ and a 65-28 lead.
“You can’t always score 65 points. We were on the right end of a three and out, a turnover and a beautiful accident that we call an onside kick,” said Penner. “Those three possessions were really the difference of the first half. We were able to capitalize on those and then in the second half our defense starts with a stop, we score and then come up with the ‘pick six.’”
“It was lots of fun. We kept in mind all practice, all week, that we were just going to play what we call Bobcat football and that’s what we did,” said Clemens. “It starts upfront with the offensive line. They did a great job all night long making everyone feel comfortable. Once you do that and you get in a groove, you’re unstoppable.”
“This game was more about us looking in the mirror and being who we want to be and getting after things on the football field.,” said Penner. “When you compete and when you try to be your best, well that’s when iron sharpens and that’s what happened tonight. I just want to get back to being us and not worrying about who we are playing against.”
The Bobcats will try to make it three wins in a row when they travel to Marion, Sept. 24, to start their Class 4A district play against the Marion Wolves (1-3) with kickoff scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
WD’s leaders were: passing — Clemens 18-of-20, 292 yards, four TDs; rushing — Zinn 21-for-158 yards and four TDs, Glausser 14-for-78 and a TD, Kaleb Reed 12-for-69 and Caleb Klein 1-for-51; receiving — Oltmanns 5-for-113 yards and three TDs, Gaston 4-for-73 and a TD, Bryant 4-for-47, Klein 1-for-30, Glausser 1-for-12, Nauman 2-for-9, Zinn 1-for-8; kick-off returns – Oltmanns 4-for-103, Bryant 1-for-18; extra points — Caden Abresch 5-for-8; punting – Nauman 1-for-37 yards; fumble recoveries – Naumann 1; interceptions – Frost 1-for-27 yards and a TD; tackles – Ian Fagan seven, Dakota Hoffman six, Nauman, Frost, Connor Maiers, Staudenmaier, Mitchell Gudenkauf and Evan Surface 2.5, Glausser, Eric Deutmeyer and Nevin Pins two, Chase Anderson, Nick Rhomberg 1.5, Logan Massey, Grayson Gardner, Max Klein one, Oltmanns, Gaston, Anthony Mallers and Kyle Henneberry 0.5.