The Western Dubuque football team made quick work of Waverly-Shell Rock in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs as the Bobcats scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions in the first half on their way to a 47-21 victory on Buchman Field in Epworth, Oct. 16.
The Bobcats are all about tempo and it didn’t take them long to get into sync after Owen Hatcher recovered a fumble to end Waverly-Shell Rock’s second possession of the game. Just two snaps later Dakota Lau caught a pass from Garrett Baumhover at the 12-yard line and waltzed into the end zone for a 41-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.
The stops kept coming for the Bobcats’ defense and so did the touchdowns by offense. Spencer Zinn made his first appearance in the Bobcats’ backfield on their next possession carrying the ball three times for 22 yards including the final yard for a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.
After the defense’s second straight three and out, the offense continued to make it look easy when Jacob Butcher’s 23-yard run got the ball into the red zone for the Bobcats. Baumhover’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Tommy DeSollar put the home team up 20-0.
Feared for their passing attack, the Bobcats kept running the ball as the offensive line continued to dominate a much bigger front four of the Go-Hawks. On their next offensive touch, the Bobcats went 68 yards, all on the ground, to take a 27-0 lead on a seven-yard run by Zinn.
Waverly-Shell Rock, not a team built to come back from being down 27 points, tried to mount a comeback and started with Brady Ramker’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Folkerts that made it 27-7 with 16.4 seconds left in the first half. The Go-Hawks defense stopped the Bobcats on the opening possession of the second half and then their offense went 44 yards on eight running plays with McCrae Hagarty powering it in from the three to make it a two-possession game at 27-14.
Tempo quickly returned to the Bobcats as they went back to the air to get things going. A pass to Lau got the drive started and a 41-yard strike to Lau, almost an exact replica of the first touchdown of the game, got them into the end zone again and back in charge at 34-14 with 4:55 to play in the third.
Knowing that all they could do was score every time they touched the ball and hope their defense could come up with stops, the Go-Hawks drove deep into Bobcat territory and were forced to go for it on fourth and 10 from the 25. Ramker looked to drop the pass perfectly for Asa Newsom, but at the last second Ryker Staudenmaier stepped in and wrestled the ball away from Newsom for an interception.
Two plays later Baumhover hit DeSollar in stride for a 76-yard touchdown that put the game away, 40-14, with 1:16 left to play in the third quarter.
The Bobcats’ defense had one more stop in them. It happened to come on fourth and four at their own six. Once again the defensive line collapsed around Hagarty and stopped him short of the first down.
The quick-strike, big-play Bobcats were at it again and this time it was Zinn creating the highlight on a 96-yard touchdown run that is now in the school record books as the longest play in school history. Eric Monahan converted the extra point to put the Bobcats up 47-14 on their way to earning a 47-21 win good enough to move onto round two where they will have a rematch with West Delaware (8-1) at Manchester, Oct. 23.
“I was really proud of our offensive line and the effort they put in. People don’t get to see it, but it was a physical, aggressive week of practice,” said Justin Penner, head coach of the Bobcats, who did a somersault on his way to enticing a mosh pit with his players as part of their post-game celebration. “Our scout team did a terrific job and I praise them all the time for the difference they make in getting us prepared each week. I’m just really proud of our guys and their commitment to our process.”
“They came out and played like I thought and know that they can play like. I just love those guys. They did a hell of a job tonight,” said Baumhover about his offensive line. “It means a ton that we get to play another game together. I love these guys. They are a great group and we’ve done so much together. It just means a lot to be able to come back for another week of practice and play on another Friday night with them.”
WD’s leaders were: passing — Baumhover 8-of-12 for 194 yards, four TDs; rushing — Zinn 14-for-185 and three TDs, Jacob Butcher 8-for-58, Dominic Frost 5-for-26, Kaleb Reed 2-for-14, Grayson Gardner 2-for-7, Baumhover 1-for-11, Cole Phillips 1-for-3; receiving — Lau 4-for-100 and two TDs, DeSollar 3-for-93 and two TDs, Frost 1-for-1; kick-off returns – Lau 1-for-32, Frost 1-for-16; extra points — Eric Monahan 5-of-7; punting — Baumhover 2-for-49; interceptions — DeSollar and Staudenmaier one; tackles— Owen Hatcher 7.5, DeSollar, Frost, Devin Neuhaus and Staudenmaier six, Lau 5.5, Trent Busch, Evan Surface and Tyler Weidenbacher three, Gardner, Dakota Hoffman, Max Klein and Emerson Lux-Morales two, Ethan Blair and Andrew Oltmanns 1.5, Payson Hofstetter, Lucas Ingles, Connor Krogman and Brody Steger one, Chase Boulting, Tanner Nauman, Hunter Overton, Cole Phillips, Logan Wiskus and Zinn 0.5.