A vigorous start to the 2012 season fizzled into a second-half flatline by the Fort Dodge football team here Friday.
Urbandale scored touchdowns on the first three possessions of the third quarter and racked up 333 yards after intermission to distance itself from the Dodgers, 42-14, in the season opener for both programs.
Head coach Matt Miller's squad had the upper-hand in nearly every statistical category for most of the first half, but the J-Hawks seized control in the latter quarters and pulled away on a warm, breezy evening inside Dodger Stadium.
''We got a heavy dose of what 48 full minutes of high-level varsity football is all about,'' Miller said. ''They came out in the second half and stuck it to us. They were more physical and simply proved to be the tougher team in every aspect of the game as it wore on.
''We were fired up and did a nice job for most of the first half, but as a lot of our kids found out the hard way, you can't just hit (an opponent) in the mouth and not expect them to fight back. When they did, we didn't respond.''
Urbandale churned out 262 yards on the ground alone at over eight yards a pop following the halftime interlude. After 12 yards of total offense in the first period, the J-Hawks racked up 432 the rest of the way.
Fort Dodge - Tommy Halligan (13-yard pass from Andrew Stover), 10:56 left first. Kick blocked.
Urbandale - Logan Augustine (3-yard run), 5:06 left second. Carson Hemphill kick.
Urbandale - Allen Lazard (45-yard pass from Augustine), 9:41 left third. Hemphill kick.
Urbandale - Markell Colemon (20-yard run), 5:44 left third. Hemphill kick.
Urbandale - Augustine (1-yard run), 0:28 left third. Hemphill kick.
Urbandale - Blake Caluzzi (3-yard run), 6:02 left fourth. Hemphill kick.
Urbandale - Abdulai Mansaray (39-yard run), 4:32 left fourth. Hemphill kick.
Fort Dodge - Wesley Castro (17-yard pass from Stover), 2:07 left fourth. Keegan Jones run.
RUSHING - Fort Dodge: Austin Halligan 17-44, Devon Kirby 8-35, Wesley Castro 3-21, Andrew Stover 5-(minus-27). Urbandale: Markell Colemon 14-101, Toren Stewart 4-74, Blake Caluzzi 11-56, Logan Augustine 16-51, Abdulai Mansaray 1-39, Jivonte Johnson 2-24, Jared Plimmer 2-12, Kyler Heckinger 2-9, Dady Mansaray 1-8.
PASSING - Fort Dodge: Andrew Stover 12-25-0-137. Urbandale: Logan Augustine 2-4-0-71.
RECEIVING - Fort Dodge: Keegan Jones 3-62, Tommy Halligan 4-31, Wesley Castro 3-28, Tyler Vaughn 2-16. Urbandale: Allen Lazard 2-71.
Fort Dodge had 26 more yards of offense and 14 extra snaps from scrimmage while trailing 7-6 at the break, but the Dodgers didn't have a single net rushing yard the rest of the contest.
Junior quarterback Andrew Stover threw bookend touchdown passes to seniors Tommy Halligan and Wesley Castro, but between the two FDSH scores, Urbandale used the ground game to find its comfort zone. Senior tailback Markell Colemon finished with 101 yards on just 14 carries, with three other backs topping the 50-yard mark as well.
''They weren't ripping off huge chunks of yardage on us early, but we had a hard time containing them once the ball got rolling in their favor,'' Miller said. ''This will make us grow up in a hurry. It may not be the way we wanted our newcomers to mature, but now they know and we'll have to treat this as a learning experience.''
The J-Hawks had six plays go for 20 yards or more in the second half, including a pair of long passes from junior quarterback Logan Augustine to classmate Allen Lazard.
Lazard, a 6-foot-4 elite team all-stater who already has Div. I offers from Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska, shifted the momentum in Urbandale's favor for good early in the third quarter by hauling in a jump-ball touchdown pass than covered 45 yards on third-and-long.
''(Dodger senior cornerback) Keegan (Jones) did everything he could on that play, but in the end, he's 5-foot-10 and Lazard is 6-4,'' Miller said. ''Keegan was in position, but you have to give (Lazard) credit for going up and getting it. That was a big moment and really knocked the wind out of us.''
Seniors Anthony Credit and Tyler Vaughn recovered fumbles for Fort Dodge. Vaughn's came on an Adrean Johnson strip. Senior Tommy Halligan registered a pair of sacks.
Credit also recorded a sack, as did junior Riley Prescott and Sam Cook - the first freshman to ever play at the varsity level for the Dodgers.
Stover threw for 137 yards in his varsity debut. Jones had three catches for 62 yards, while Halligan hauled in four passes for 31 yards.
Vaughn averaged over 42 yards on his six punts for Fort Dodge, which did not turn the ball over.
''The key now is to not hit the panic button,'' Miller said. ''We need to react in a positive way. It's a loss and it hurts, but it's one non-district game. We have to lick our wounds and keep working together.
''I want this to sting for 24 hours, and then we get back to work and focus on (Sioux City) East. I saw plenty of positives to take away from this night - they just need to come in more consistent doses. At this level, you have to be physically and mentally ready for every snap. I don't think we can say we were (on Friday).''
The Black Raiders dropped their season opener last night to intra-city rival Sioux City Heelan, 38-28.