FULL STEAM AHEAD
Dodgers shatter records in video game-like win
New Fort Dodge football coach Nik Moser called Dayson Clayton’s performance on Friday night the best he’d ever seen from his four-year starter.
Clayton was a man among boys against Ames in the season opener for both programs, racking up 384 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage as Fort Dodge opened the Moser era with a record-setting performance in an 81-54 victory over the Little Cyclones inside Dodger Stadium.
The 220-pound senior tailback rushed for 325 yards and five scores, spearheading an FDSH offense that established all-time school marks for both points and yards in a single game. The Dodgers compiled 493 yards on the ground and threw for 253 more, using a punishing attack in the trenches and a number of high-percentage pass plays to bury the Little Cyclones and stretch the program’s win streak in the series to five.
“That’s as good as Dayson has ever looked, which is no small feat given his career here,” said Moser, Fort Dodge’s long-time assistant and offensive coordinator before taking the head reins from Matt Miller last spring. “It all started with the tone he set in the offseason and during camp. He’s healthy, he’s matured, and he’s really taking his role as a senior leader and captain seriously.
“I still think Dayson’s best ball is coming, though. He had a huge night, but he still just scratching the surface on what he could accomplish down the road if he keeps doing the work and putting in the time.”
Clayton wasn’t alone in his efforts. Fellow senior co-captain Sam Daniel was everywhere, recording a rushing touchdown, a kick return for a score, two interceptions on defense and an on-side kick recovery. Senior speed merchant Tyler Schreier executed the sweep pass to perfection, with 150 yards and a pair of long jaunts to paydirt. And junior quarterback Carson Peterson finished with 253 yards and three TDs.
“It just felt good to be back out there again,” Clayton said. “Coach Moser told us before the game that for the next few hours, we don’t have to worry about the distractions and everything else (from a summer and preseason dealing with the COVID-19 global pandemic) — that we get to just go play again. Straight-forward football. It was nice to get that break and have it all feel like old times on a Friday night, no matter what happens (from this point on).”
Clayton’s rushing total was second only to former Dodger great Sam Cook, who had a Dodger-best 352 yards against Des Moines North in 2013. The bulldozer wasn’t flashy or cute with his totes, taking a number of direct snaps out of the wildcat formation.
The first half was more punishing north and south Clayton, with 14 carries for 140 yards and two scores. Clayton showed off his breakaway speed the rest of the way, blitzing a demoralized Ames defense with TD jaunts of 34, 43 and 45 yards in the second half.
“I know the score looks like a video game, but I’m sure Ames had no idea we’d come out with three guys in the backfield, taking direct snaps and lining up in the pro (formation),” Moser said, referring to the Dodgers’ return to a conventional smashmouth style after years of aerial assaults versus the Little Cyclones. “And to be honest, we didn’t know exactly what they would look like with a new head coach and (Tamin) Lipsey at quarterback. He’s a special talent for sure.”
Lipsey was just as unstoppable as Clayton. The 6-foot-2 junior, an elite basketball prospect, had 369 passing yards and 210 more on the ground. He accounted for all eight of the Little Cyclones’ touchdowns, with five through the air and three more rushing.
After earning a varsity letter on the gridiron as a freshman, Lipsey missed the entire 2019 campaign as he recovered from an injury.
Daniel noted the auspicious start to 2020 was a total team effort from Fort Dodge, which has now scored 237 combined points against Ames in the last four years.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be out there making plays, but it couldn’t be done without my teammates,” said Daniel, a returning all-district defensive back. “We played hard, but there are many things we need to work on.
“It was just great to be out there again with my teammates.”
Clayton made sure to give a nod to the Dodgers’ offensive line, who “really set the tone.”
“They don’t get enough credit,” Clayton said. “It all starts up front. They really stepped up and dominated (at the point of attack). We couldn’t do any of this (offensively) without them.”
Fort Dodge’s previous single-game point mark came in a 71-70 loss at Newton in 2017. The Dodgers had 659 yards from scrimmage that night, which was also a record before Friday.
“I think the kids were having fun, which is the most important thing,” Moser said. “When you are able to establish the run like that and can kind of break a team’s will (in the trenches), that’s a real positive for both our line and our ground game (moving forward). Did I ever think we’d score 81 points? Absolutely not. Did I ever think we’d give up 54 points? Absolutely not.
“We weren’t perfect. We have a lot work on moving forward, obviously. That’s always a good feeling, when you can win and yet you know there’s plenty of improvement to be made from Week 1 to Week 2. So we’ll go enjoy this for a night and then start focusing on Mason City.”
The Dodgers visit the Mohawks on Friday. Mason City, which has dropped 16 consecutive contests to Fort Dodge, opened the second stanza of the John Lee era with a 28-0 win last night over Marshalltown.
First downs 27 23
Rushes-yards 40-493 24-218
Passing 9-12-0 32-47-2
Passing yards 253 388
Total offense 746 606
Punts-avg. 1-32.0 1-46.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1
Penalty-Yards 8-87 3-15
Ames 7 13 26 8 — 54
Fort Dodge 21 22 30 8 — 81
Fort Dodge — Dayson Clayton (3-yard run), 9:39 left first quarter. Kick failed.
Fort Dodge — Clayton (23-yard run), 8:21 left first. Tyler Schreier run.
Ames — Corey Phillips (58-yard pass from Tamin Lipsey), 6:35 left first. John Lehmkuhl kick.
Fort Dodge — Schreier (38-yard pass from Carson Peterson), 5:42 left first. Gavin Schillerstrom kick.
Ames — Keyshaun Brooks (7-yard pass from Lipsey), 11:15 left second. Lehmkuhl kick.
Fort Dodge — Sam Daniel (89-yard kickoff return), 11:15 left second. Schreier run.
Ames — Lipsey (21-yard run), 8:19 left second. Kick failed.
Fort Dodge — Schreier (7-yard run), 5:53 left second. Kick failed.
Fort Dodge — Sam Daniel (3-yard run), 3:09 left second. Schreier run.
Ames — Phillips (8-yard pass from Lipsey), 9:03 left third. Lehmkuhl kick.
Fort Dodge — Clayton (34-yard run), 8:34 third. Clayton run.
Ames — Brooks (1-yard pass from Lipsey), 5:29 left third. Lehmkuhl kick.
Fort Dodge — Clayton (43-yard run), 3:05 left third. Clayton run.
Fort Dodge — Clayton (59-yard run), 2:44 left third. Run failed.
Ames — Lipsey (65-yard run), 2:33 left third. Run failed.
Ames — Lipsey (23-yard run), 0:43 left third. Pass failed.
Fort Dodge — Clayton (45-yard run), 0:31 left third. Schreier run.
Ames — Phillips (1-yard pass from Lipsey), 8:29 left fourth. Lipsey run.
Fort Dodge — Schreier (67-yard pass from Peterson), 5:57 left fourth. Clayton run.
RUSHING — Fort Dodge: Dayson Clayton 23-325, Jon Presswood 4-55, Sam Daniel 5-48, Connor Carver 3-39, Tyler Schreier 2-16, Carson Peterson 2-10, Jace Ulrich 1-0. Ames: Tamin Lipsey 14-210, Derek Papin 6-15, JT Hailes 1-2, Keyshaun Brooks 2-(minus-1), Evan Grey 1-(minus-8).
PASSING — Fort Dodge: Carson Peterson 9-12-0-253, Connor Carver 0-0-0-0. Ames: Tamin Lipsey 30-43-1-369, Trenton Smith 2-3-1-19, Evan Grey 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING — Fort Dodge: Tyler Schreier 6-150, Dayson Clayton 1-59, Javion Jondle 2-44. Ames: Corey Phillips 8-144, Keyshaun Brooks 12-139, Derek Papin 7-66, Evan Grey 4-20, Jalen Lueth 1-9.