Calvin Harris threw for 274 yards, four touchdowns and ran for another as he helped lead the Western Dubuque football team to a 48-20 rout over Williamsburg in the Bobcats’ home opener at Buchman Field in Epworth Sept. 6.
The Bobcats’ hadn’t played a home game since week eight of last season, meaning they had played six straight football games on the road. They wasted little time giving Bobcat Nation something to scream about as Jake Hosch recovered a fumble by Kaden Wetjen on Williamsburg’s first offensive play of the game to give the Bobcats the ball on the Raiders’ 20-yard line. Just four plays later Hosch crashed into the end zone on a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Bobcats’ their first lead of the game.
“We haven’t been at home for so long. (With all the playoff games being on the road) and then starting the season last week in Clinton. It was pretty special for us to finally be back home,” said Justin Penner, head coach of the Bobcats. “The Buck is a special place for us and our fans, and we wanted to share it with them tonight. A huge crowd was on hand so we wanted to give them a show.”
The fireworks started after Williamsburg connected on an 80-yard bomb from Brody Wardenburg to Wetjen that tied the game at 7-7 with 4:03 left in the first quarter.
The Bobcats showed off their quick-strike capability as Harris hit a wide-open Will Burds near the 30-yard line who outraced the defense to the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-7 lead. The pass was Harris’ 29th of his career and gave him the new school record for touchdown passes. By the end of the game, Harris also held the school record for completions and passing yards. Not bad for a guy who has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Mississippi.
After the Bobcats’ defense forced a three-and-out, the lead grew to 21-7 with 3.7 seconds left in the first quarter when Harris hammered his way across the goal line for a two-yard touchdown that capped off a seven-play drive.
Bryce Ploessl intercepted a pass early in the second quarter that gave the Bobcats possession at their 33-yard line. Nine running plays and two passes later Ben Bryant drove into the end zone for a 9-yard run to put the home team up 28-7.
Williamsburg made it look like a game as the Raiders closed the gap to 28-13 with 14.7 seconds to go in the first half when Wardenburg hooked up with Wetjen again for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The try for extra point was no good.
After halftime, it was all Western Dubuque as the Bobcats took the kickoff to open the second half and marched 68-yards on 10 plays to score on a 4-yard pass from Harris to Burds. The Bobcats finished off their scoring with two more passes. Harris tossed the ball to Bryant on a screen, who then followed the wall formed by the offensive line 14 yards into the end zone for a touchdown and, early in the fourth quarter, connected with Burds for a 31-yard touchdown pass, their third of the game. This one was all Burds as he made a couple of defenders miss and raced into the end zone to give the Bobcats a 48-13 lead. With that extra point, Gabe Ulrichs was six of seven on the night and tied the school record with Tony Foxen for 45 extra points in a career.
“Will Burds does some amazing things when the football is in his hands. That was an incredible play. It sure is nice to be able to be balanced,” said Penner pointing to the fact that the Bobcats also ran for 239 yards. “Coach (Mike) Elgin and the offensive line did another nice job of adjusting to what the defense was trying to do to shut us down, but our guys really got after it. Our running backs ran really hard tonight.”
Bryant ran the ball 12 times for 85 yards and Hosch had 19 carries for 85 yards.
“Being on the Buck is definitely a special feeling on a Friday night under the lights, but we had a lot of fun tonight,” said Harris. “Being a Bobcat is special. I even get goosebumps talking about it, but it’s definitely different than anywhere else. We always break down ‘family on one’ when we’re done with practice or get ready to walk off the field after a game, and that is something we take to heart big time. There’s seven days in a week and we are together all the time. If we’re not having practice or don’t have a game, we’re still all hanging out somewhere. It even extends to our fans, our classmates and the entire community.”
WD’s leaders were: passing — Harris 17-of-24, 274 yards, four TDs; rushing — Bryant 12-for-85 and one TD, Hosch 19-for-85 yards and one TD, Harris 6-for-34 yards and one TD, Sawyer Nauman 4-for-20, Spencer Zinn 2-for-15; receiving — Burds 8-for-138 and three TDs, Payton Quagliano 4-for-58, Bryant 2-for-46 yards and one TD, Logan Brosius 1-for-18, Tommy DeSollar 1-for-9, Hosch 1-for-5; tackles — Hosch 8.5, Dustin Wille 5.5, Bryant and Carter Kluesner 3.5, Brosius and DeSollar 2.5, Burds and Collin Hogan two, Will Conlan, Nauman and Ulrichs 1.5, Ploessl and Quagliano one, Kale Cartee, Matt Fenton, Cameron Kluesner, Dakota Lau, Emerson Lux-Morales, Cole Phillips and Jonathan Savolt 0.5; kickoff returns — Bryant 1-for-5; punt returns — Burds 3-for-17.