J-Hawks topple Dodgers

URBANDALE – It took the Fort Dodge football team a little while to settle into their 2013 debut here Friday.

By the time the Dodgers did settle down and find a rhythm, homestanding Urbandale was long gone.

Junior Abdul Mansaray scored five times in the first 13-plus minutes of action, and the fleet-footed J-Hawks sped past Fort Dodge by a 63-21 count at a steamy Frerichs Field.

Head coach Matt Miller was worried his ballclub couldn’t simulate the kind of speed in store for their opener during preseason camp. His concerns became a dizzying reality in the first half, as Urbandale darted up and down the field in an offensive blur before the Dodgers even knew what hit them.

“It was a pretty darn impressive performance by what I think will be a very, very good Urbandale squad,” Miller said of the J-Hawks, a consensus Top-10 pick returning 15 starters from a group that went 7-3 a year ago. “Of course there were a lot of things we need to clean up and correct, but I don’t want to take away at all from what our opponents did. They put on a clinic.

“They have some playmakers and some game-changers that, until they line up across from you live, you just can’t prepare for that kind of quickness and burst. Some of their guys have another gear, another level, that we just couldn’t match.”

There were 552 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns before halftime on a sweltering evening that saw 98-degree temperatures at kickoff. Dodger senior Andrew Stover attempted 32 passes in the first half alone – completing 16 of them for 162 yards – and sophomore Sam Cook cracked the 100-yard barrier thanks in large part to a 56-yard scoring run in the final minute of the second quarter.

While the fast-paced FDSH offense wasn’t short on numbers, the defense simply had no counter for Urbandale’s attack. Combined with eight first-half penalties and six dropped passes, and the Dodgers were way behind on the scoreboard despite holding their own on the stat sheet.

“We made a lot of very fixable mistakes, but they’re the kind of errors that need to be taken care of in a hurry,” Miller said. “We had way too many missed tackles, dropped balls, holding calls and procedure penalties. That’s a lack of concentration and execution that we won’t have the ability to just shrug off and overcome. They have to be all but eliminated.

“Look, I’m proud of our kids – especially the ones going both ways (on offense and defense). We’re down 42-0 and it’s almost 100 degrees. They could’ve thrown in the towel. They kept fighting, but this game isn’t just about effort. Urbandale gave a great effort as well, but they also did most of the little things right and avoided the self-inflicted stuff that could’ve swung the momentum. Again, that’s a credit to them for being so crisp and clean in Week 1.”

Mansaray slipped through the Dodger defense for three touchdowns on the ground and two more on screen passes from returning senior quarterback Logan Augustine. Iowa State recruit Allen Lazard – a 6-foot-5, 204-pound three-year starter who is still being courted by Notre Dame, Stanford, Nebraska and Wisconsin – had four catches for 73 yards and a 66-yard punt return in the first quarter that immediately followed a stalled FDSH drive deep into J-Hawk territory.

Urbandale was nearly perfectly balanced offensively, with 227 yards on the ground and 228 more through the air.

Stover finished with 171 yards passing for the Dodgers, while Cook had 136 rushing. Seven different FDSH players caught balls thrown by Stover.

Senior linebacker Cory Alexander returned a J-Hawk fumble – one of the few miscues by the home team all night long – 28 yards for a score in the fourth period. Junior Austin Halligan had the other TD on a short pass from Stover.

Urbandale honored its Little League World Series qualifiers at halftime. The players were introduced individually on the track to a standing ovation.

The Dodgers return to action on Friday, facing Sioux City East in their home opener. The Black Raiders lost to city rival Sioux City Heelan last night, 27-22.