MANCHESTER — The statistics caught even West Delaware Coach Doug Winkowitsch by surprise.
Despite giving up the first touchdown of the game, the Hawks defense didn’t allow a single first down in the opening half of the game. The quirky feat impressed the Hawks’ 15th-year head coach.
“I thought our defense played fantastic,” Winkowitsch said. “We have a little more experience there. We have more kids back that had defensive minutes last year and that has helped us build the defense around those guys.”
The Hawks used a stout defense and an effective rush attack to notch their first victory of the season, beating Marion, 32-20, in a Class 3A non-district prep football game Friday night at Brown Field.
West Delaware (1-1) rebounded from an opening-week loss to Dubuque Wahlert.
“We’re getting better,” Winkowitsch said. “We have a long ways to go, though.”
The Hawks endured a rough start. Marion’s Dane Carstensen picked off Jared Voss on the second play of the game, returning it to the West Delaware 1. Ryan Paulsen punched it in on the next play for a 7-0 lead just 52 seconds into the game.
West Delaware took over from there. The defense allowed just 18 plays on seven Marion possessions and only gave up 22 yards in the first half. Actually, the Hawks limited Marion to 123 total yards of offense and four first downs overall — just one more first down than touchdowns.
In comparison, the Hawks rushed for three scores in the first half, building a 20-7 halftime lead.
Cael Meyer was a key contributor to the ground game. He rushed for 180 yards on 32 carries, including two touchdowns.
Meyer ran for touchdowns of 33 and 17 on consecutive series to give West Delaware a lead it didn’t surrender.
“He saw the field really well,” Winkowitsch said. “Our offensive line got better.”
Alias Underwood added 46 rushing yards with a 38-yard scamper in the first, starting up the middle and bouncing free to his right to tie the game. The Hawks ran for 254 yards overall.
“I’m really proud of our offensive line making a big step this week,” Winkowitsch said. “It was a little bit schemes and they finished blocks. They dialed in and got better.
Voss added two TD passes in the second half, connecting with Wyatt Voelker on a 10-yard strike and a 46-yard bomb to Logan Woellert, who also had a key interception in the end zone with Marion attempting to tie the game early in the third.
“He had a tremendous night with the big catch and defensive pick,” Winkowitsch said. “He had to step up when (Kyle) Kelley got the wind knocked out of him.”
Marion (0-2) threatened after the break, producing an eight-play, 60-yard drive to open the second half. Wyatt Cannon rushed for a 3-yard score to make it 20-14.
After the Indians recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Woellert grabbed the turnover to end the threat.
He also added a 45-yard TD pass to Connor Whalen in the fourth, finishing with 109 yards passing.
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“It was pivotal for us, but the kids never dropped their heads or shoulders,” Lovell said. “We were a different team in the second half. That was evident.
“One half of football doesn’t make a game. It takes 48 minutes and our kids are learning that.”
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