Dodgers thumped in opener
CEDAR FALLS — The Fort Dodge football team is scurrying back to the drawing board.
Making its 2017 season debut on the turf of the state championships at the UNI-Dome, the Dodgers were both humbled and overwhelmed by an impressive Cedar Falls squad here on Friday, 55-7.
Head coach Matt Miller had an ominous feeling that the Tigers — who return the vast majority of starters from their 6-3 ballclub of a year ago — would be every bit as good as they looked last night on the University of Northern Iowa’s home field.
“But we aren’t this bad,” Miller added. “And that’s the disappointing part.”
Cedar Falls scored on all nine of its drives — seven touchdowns and a pair of field goals — and held Fort Dodge to 122 yards of total offense in a dominant display of efficiency on both sides of the ball.
“We got whipped,” Miller admitted. “We have a long way to go, and the weeks and games come quickly now, so we’re going to have to make significant progress in short periods of time.
“(The Tigers) were obviously really impressive. But I’ll say this: (lack of) execution aside, there’s an intensity and emotion you have to bring to this game. It has to be real and it has to be for each other. You can’t fake it. And we didn’t have it (on Friday). That’s on all of us — coaches and players alike — to fix by (next week).”
The Tigers methodically churned out 231 rushing yards at over six yards a pop, and veteran CF quarterback Luke Gillett completed 8 of 11 passes for 131 yards in just one half of action for good measure. Junior Sam Gary rushed 14 times for 156 yards and three scores, and like Gillett, never even saw the field after halftime.
After allowing an immediate touchdown drive to start the contest, Fort Dodge looked poised to answer when it marched right down the field on its opening possession. The Dodgers were stopped on downs at the Tiger 30-yard line, though, and on Cedar Falls’ ensuing series, Gillett found 6-foot-4 junior receiver Logan Wolf in single coverage for a backbreaking 34-yard TD pass on 3rd-and-24.
Instead of possibly tying the score, moments later, Fort Dodge was suddenly down 14-0. And it only got worse from there.
By the time the Dodgers finally hit paydirt — junior quarterback Drake Miller connected with senior Tyrnan Lara for a 9-yard scoring strike — the contest was in the fourth quarter and the 35-point clock had been running continuously for an entire period.
Miller was 12 of 17 for 97 yards, and senior Trey Mosley had five receptions for 47 yards. Freshman tailback Dayson Clayton was FDSH’s leading rusher, with 23 yards on eight carries.
While the Tigers were operating like a well-oiled machine on the ground, the Dodgers managed only 25 net yards from their backfield.
“I was worried about their athleticism and experience along both lines (CF returned seven of 10 starters up front), and just the running game in general both ways,” Miller said. “We couldn’t stop them, and we couldn’t get anything going.
“The good thing, relatively speaking, is that there should be absolutely no finger pointing.
“Everyone, and I mean everyone, is responsible for this. We all deserve blame, coaches and players alike. We all have to be more physically and mentally prepared for our home opener, without question. Pride is in play now.”
Senior Cayd Lara registered a sack for Fort Dodge, and senior punter Aidan Simonson had four strong punts at an over 40-yard average.
The Dodgers host Sioux City North this Friday. The Stars dropped their opener to Sioux City West, 29-20.
First Downs 10 22
Rushes-Yards 27-25 37-231
Passing 12-18-1 9-12-0
Passing Yards 97 162
Total Yards 122 393
Punts-Avg. 4-40.3 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-0
Penalties-Yards 2-17 2-28
Fort Dodge 0 0 0 7 — 7
Cedar Falls 14 27 7 7 — 55
Cedar Falls — Sam Gary (5-yard run), 10:29 left first quarter. Matthew Cook kick.
Cedar Falls — Logan Wolf (34-yard pass from Luke Gillett), 3:32 left first. Cook kick.
Cedar Falls — Cook (33-yard field goal), 10:55 left second.
Cedar Falls — Blake Christensen (31-yard pass from Gary), 9:03 left second.
Cedar Falls — Gary (38-yard run), 6:13 left second. Cook kick.
Cedar Falls — Gary (17-yard run), 4:12 left second. Cook kick.
Cedar Falls — Cook (26-yard field goal), 0:25 left second.
Cedar Falls — Jackson Gilbert (5-yard run), 6:29 left third. Cook kick.
Fort Dodge — Tyrnan Lara (9-yard pass from Drake Miller), 11:54 left fourth. Ben Nebel kick.
Cedar Falls — Chip Custer (1-yard run), 2:40 left fourth. Cook kick.
Rushing — Fort Dodge: Dayson Clayton 8-23, Joe Artis 6-12, Savion Poe 3-9, Drake Miller 10-(minus-19). Cedar Falls: Sam Gary 14-156, Jackson Gilbert 9-59, Chip Custer 6-16, Luke Gillett 2-9, Westen Graham 2-8, Will Gage 1-5, Jace Rea 1-0, Team 2-(minus-22).
Passing — Fort Dodge: Drake Miller 12-17-0-97, Asle Thorson 0-1-1-0. Cedar Falls: Luke Gillett 8-11-0-131, Sam Gary 1-1-0-31, Mason Abbas 0-0-0-0.
Receiving — Fort Dodge: Trey Mosley 5-47, Tysen Kershaw 3-19, Tyrnan Lara 2-19, Joe Artis 1-9, Drew Callon 1-6. Cedar Falls: Logan Wolf 3-62, Jackson Frericks 3-42, Blake Christensen 1-31, Luke Anhalt 1-24, Chip Custer 1-3.