Second-half struggles doom MHS football
McLouth fans made plenty of noise at halftime of Friday’s football game against Doniphan West at Stan Braksick Sports Complex.
Senior lineman Kyle Mabary and fellow senior Katie Walbridge were crowned homecoming king and queen at intermission.
Unfortunately for the hometown Bulldogs, their fans had little to cheer about in the second half.
McLouth High was in a dogfight in the first half, as the Bulldogs held their own against the visiting Mustangs and trailed by seven heading into the locker room.
But in the second half, Doniphan West continued to pull away as McLouth’s offense just couldn’t respond.
DWHS tacked on 26 more points on its way to a 33-0 Delaware Valley League victory.
The loss dropped McLouth to 1-4 on the season.
The Bulldogs opened the game well, forcing the Mustangs (2-3) to punt on their first possession and then driving down to the DWHS 20-yard-line.
But a 15-play drive on the Mustangs’ next possession switched momentum and Doniphan West was on the board with a five-yard run by senior running back Brett Dunlap with 11:19 left in the second quarter.
Doniphan West was moving again later in the second quarter, when McLouth thwarted the drive with a forced fumble. MHS recovered, but again the offense just couldn’t get going.
The Bulldog defense was in good shape and nearly put MHS in position to score before the half.
After an MHS punt put Doniphan West at its own 10 with about two minutes left in the half, McLouth allowed just two yards on the possession and used all of its timeouts so it would have time for a last crack at the end zone before intermission.
On fourth down, the Doniphan West punter bobbled the snap and two Bulldogs nearly had a full block on the punter. A referee initially threw his flag for roughing the kicker, but changed the call as the officials determined the MHS special teamers did touch the football before leveling the punter.
“That would have been nice to get that right there,” MHS coach Chris Stewart said of a blocked punt.
Still, the Bulldogs started the drive inside Mustang territory at the DWHS 46. But again, MHS just couldn’t sustain a drive and the Mustangs regained possession. Doniphan West did its best to punch in a score in the final moments of the half, but a pass near the end zone was broken up and the Mustangs went into halftime with a 7-0 lead.
The third quarter turned out to be the most destructive for McLouth as Doniphan West scored three times.
Another touchdown in the fourth increased the Mustangs’ lead as the DWHS defense kept McLouth scoreless on homecoming night.
Stewart said his young squad continues to work hard and play hard every game, but as the Bulldogs prepare for district play after this Friday’s game against Valley Falls, the coach said he wants his team to play better in the second half of its contests.
“I would like us to come out in the second half of every game,” Stewart said. “I want them to be physical in the second half of each game.”
Stewart moved a couple players around for the Doniphan West game, switching Alex Courtney from the backfield to offensive line and Shawn Dailey from offensive line to running back. Dailey responded to the move, carrying the ball 25 times for 71 yards.
MHS quarterback Marc Walbridge was for 5-for-11 passing the ball for 31 yards.
Doniphan West, meanwhile, amassed 224 yards on the ground.
P.D. Simmons had 16 carries for 88 yards, Dunlap 20 carries for 83 yards and quarterback Keaton Blevins had 11 carries for 49 yards. Blevins also completed one pass on four attempts. The lone completion went for 12 yards.
McLouth’s next game — against Valley Falls — will start at 7 p.m. Friday at Stan Braksick Sports Complex.
“They’re pretty good,” Stewart said. “They have a number of seniors. They started out slow, but they’re at the top of the DVL with Pleasant Ridge and Oskaloosa.
“We’ve got a lot to work on, no question.”