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NOT DONE YET

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Jon Presswood of Fort Dodge gains a few yards against Sioux City West on Friday inside Dodger Stadium

Fort Dodge may have never been quite as good as its No. 4 ranking indicated one month ago.

The Dodgers are out to prove, though, that writing them off after three consecutive losses will prove to be a big mistake.

Head coach Matt Miller’s squad forced a school-record eight turnovers — including seven in a flurry of first-half miscues — and Fort Dodge scored 38 points before fans were even settled into their seats on its way to a 57-0 shutout of Sioux City West Friday night.

The Dodgers (5-3 overall) kept their playoff hopes alive thanks in large part to a relentless defensive performance. Fort Dodge allowed only 22 total yards from scrimmage and two first downs, as the Wolverines (0-8) were blanked for the fifth time this year.

“The goal was to right the ship from a wins and losses point of view, because we have obviously backed ourselves into a corner when it comes to our record and getting into (the postseason),” Miller said. “But there’s never been a panic among our coaches, and our kids never lost confidence in themselves, either.

“There hasn’t been a doubt. We’re all ready to get back in the hunt after a few weeks of adversity. And now we’ve put ourselves in a position that well over half (the 4A field) would love to be in: playing a meaningful Week 9 game.”

With a strong breeze blowing in from the south, Fort Dodge’s defense went on the attack as West tried to work its way down the field against the wind in the first quarter. The Dodgers’ first nine possessions started in Wolverine territory, thanks to three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, a safety and two poor punts in the opening 16-plus minutes of action alone.

FDSH racked up five touchdowns — all on drives of 45 yards or less — before the first-period horn had sounded.

“We emphasized (to the defense) the importance of taking advantage of the conditions,” Miller said. “I told our coaches if we needed to use all three timeouts in that first quarter, we would, just to get as many cracks at it as possible with the wind at our back and them going against it.”

Junior D’Arien Calahan, senior Brycen Bell and senior Shane Halligan all picked off passes in the opening 12 minutes, while Thomas Daniel and Halligan recovered fumbles. The five first-quarter turnovers were also an all-time Dodger record.

Miller had pulled almost all his starters by the early stages of the second period. Sophomore Jon Presswood added a rushing touchdown before intermission, and sophomore Carson Peterson found Nick Bice for a 12-yard scoring strike to make it 51-0 in the final minute of the half.

Senior Asle Thorson had three passing TDs — to junior Tyler Schreier, senior Tysen Kershaw and senior Russell Potratz — while hitting paydirt twice on short runs. The Wolverines finished the first half with negative-3 yards of total offense and zero first downs, as the Dodgers came up with four picks, three fumble recoveries and eight tackles for loss.

Juniors Jerry Chada (interception) and Matt Surles-Davis (fumble recovery) had the other FDSH turnovers before the break.

With a continuous clock running, the Dodgers’ only second-half score came on a bizarre sequence of events. Junior quarterback Dylan Zimmermann had a pass deflected and intercepted, but Zimmermann recovered on the play to force a fumble and take it back to the end zone from 10 yards out.

Presswood had 60 yards rushing on 11 carries in relief of Dayson Clayton, who only had three rushing attempts as he continues to recover from a sprained ankle. Thorson threw for 76 yards and ran for 43 in a quarter of work.

Sophomore Bradley Vodraska hauled in seven passes in the second half for 42 yards. Peterson was 5 of 6 passing for 46 yards, while rushing for 29 more.

Sophomore Pry’Shayn Mosley recorded a sack.

Now Fort Dodge turns its attention to rival Marshalltown. The Bobcats are also 5-3 overall, despite falling to Southeast Polk last night, 49-21.

Both programs have the same losses this season: to the Rams, Ankeny Centennial and Des Moines Roosevelt.

“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Miller said. “Marshalltown always plays us tough. (The Bobcats were) No. 13 in the RPI (this past week) and we were 16. We know what’s going to be at stake. This was, for all intents and purposes, our first-round playoff game. Now we move on and have another one.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium this Friday.

FD SCW First Downs 20 2

Rushes-Yards 44-141 22-(-13)

Passing 149 35

Comp-Att-Int 16-23-2 3-16-4

Total Offense 290 22

Punts-Avg. 1-31.0 3-15.3

Fumbles-Lost 4-1 4-4

Penalties-Yards 4-35 5-35

Fort Dodge 38 13 0 6–57

SC West 0 0 0 0–0

Scoring Summary

Fort Dodge — Asle Thorson (1-yard run), 9:12 left first quarter. Brycen Bell pass to Nick Bice.

Fort Dodge — Thorson (12-yard run), 8:44 left first. Gavin Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Tyler Schreier (36-yard pass from Thorson), 5:26 left first. Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Tysen Kershaw (11-yard pass from Thorson), 3:17 left first. Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Russell Potratz (14-yard pass from Thorson), 3:00 left first. Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Safety (ball snapped through end zone), 1:21 left first.

Fort Dodge — Jon Presswood (2-yard run), 7:43 left second. Schillerstrom kick.

Fort Dodge — Nick Bice (12-yard pass from Carson Peterson), 0:52 left second. Kick blocked.

Fort Dodge — Dylan Zimmermann (10-yard fumble recovery), 1:51 left fourth. Kick blocked.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Fort Dodge: Jon Presswood 11-60, Asle Thorson 7-43, Ben Egli 8-34, Carson Peterson 6-29, Matt Surles-Davis 2-14, Dylan Zimmermann 3-7, Dayson Clayton 3-3, Jake Erickson 1-1, Team 3-(minus-50). West: Devionne West 15-11, Landin Barker 2-4, Mabilor Akuien 1-2, Abel Harker 3-(minus-11), Team 1-(minus-19).

PASSING — Fort Dodge: Asle Thorson 5-8-1-76, Carson Peterson 5-6-0-46, Dylan Zimmermann 6-9-1-27. West: Landin Barker 2-7-1-19, Abel Harker 1-9-3-16.

RECEIVING — Fort Dodge: Bradley Vodraska 7-42, Tyler Schreier 2-41, Tysen Kershaw 2-21, Russell Potratz 2-21, Nick Bice 2-18, Amaris Harris 1-6. West: Michael Duax 2-24, Rolando Retano 1-11.