THE STREAK LIVES
Fort Dodge’s offense put up major style points in a dominant opening quarter against Mason City here Friday.
When the Dodgers needed to close out their arch rival, though, it was again the defense that gave the team all the substance they would need.
The FDSH ‘D’ rose to the occasion for a third consecutive week, putting the finishing touches on a 25-12 victory over the Mohawks that extended their winning streak in the series to a baker’s dozen.
More importantly, the convincing home triumph kept the Decker Sporting Goods traveling trophy in the program’s possession for a remarkable 12th straight year – or every season since its introduction in 2005.
Head coach Matt Miller’s defensive unit surrendered only 125 total yards and no points – both of Mason City’s touchdowns were a direct result of Dodger turnovers – in a repeat performance from a week ago. Fort Dodge (2-1 overall) has pitched a shutout in 10 of the 12 quarters played so far this season.
”We’ve worked really hard to come together both on and off the field,” said junior cornerback Damond Lockner, who had two interceptions and a late fumble recovery to secure the win. ”I’m really proud of the team right now, because we’re doing this together.
”I know coming into this game and the season, people talked a lot about what we’re going to be and what we weren’t going to be. We know there are doubters out there. There always will be. But the most important thing is we don’t doubt ourselves. Every single one of us believes. Win or lose, that’s what matters in the end – that we keep supporting each other.”
Sophomore quarterback Drake Miller torched the Mohawks (2-1) in the first period of action, throwing for 193 yards and three touchdowns while completing 12 of his initial 13 attempts. The composed left-hander hit junior Savion Poe (7-yard TD), senior Jonathan Bowser (22) and junior Trey Mosley (25) for scores in a mesmerizing display of efficiency and accuracy as the Dodgers built a 19-0 lead before the initial horn.
”We had a solid week of practice and felt really good about our gameplan,” said Miller, who ended up 17 of 23 for 249 yards. ”I have to credit our receivers, the offensive line, and of course, our defense. To not give up a touchdown for two straight weeks – obviously, that takes so much pressure off of us offensively, when they’re as locked in as they are right now.”
There were a few bumps in the second-quarter road, when Mason City’s Carter Roberts returned a fumble 18 yards to the end zone and Mohawk Ryan Voves took a tipped pass 77 yards to paydirt. But Fort Dodge’s defense was unrelenting, limiting Mason City to seven first downs and 32 total yards through the air.
The Mohawks had one play go for over 14 yards. Their biggest gain in the second half was on a 9-yard run.
”The defense, again, played lights out,” coach Miller said. ”We came out in a great rhythm offensively; that was about as good as we could execute for three straight drives. But the defense, from start to finish, really set the tone. They put us on their shoulders and carried us home.”
Bowser had the first 100-yard receiving game of his career, catching five passes for 109 yards. Junior Tyrnan Lara added a team-high eight receptions for 66 yards.
Junior Savion Poe had the other FDSH score on a short TD scamper in the second period.
Sophomore Triston Licht picked up a pair of sacks, and seniors Keaton Jones and Colin Leonard contributed one sack each. Licht also forced the fumble that Lockner recovered at the Dodger 27-yard line with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to seal the deal.
Fort Dodge players and students swarmed the Decker trophy afterward in what has been a rite of passage here for over a full decade. The Dodgers are now 23-6 against the Mohawks since 1988, and during the current 13-game streak, they’ve allowed more than 14 points only twice.
”I’ve been waiting to be a part of that since I was a little kid,” said Drake Miller, the son of FDSH’s head coach who is now 57 of 89 passing for 611 yards and five touchdowns in his first three varsity starts. ”Beating Mason City at this level has always been a dream of mine, like it is for all of us.
”It’s a great feeling, especially for our seniors.”
Coach Miller lauded his senior class as well, adding, ”this is something they’ll always remember, and no one can take away from them.”
”Look, I’ve said for a while now that someday this streak will come to an end. And it seems like the pressure increases for us to keep it going with each (passing season). But to our players’ credit, and especially the seniors, they keep rising to the occasion and getting the job done.
”We don’t have a lot seniors, but for the ones who are still grinding away in practice, giving everything they have to this program – this was a moment they will never forget.”