VARSITY FOOTBALL: Dawgs rise up, advance to regional semifinal
PHOTOS BY LISA McGINTY | LMC Photography
Dalton’s Adam Jarrett on the way to one of his touchdowns Friday against the Malvern Hornets.
Austin Ryder, left, and Liam Riggenbach, right, block for Jaden Schlabach, center.
Austin Ryder and Jaden Schlabach block for Tate Geiser.
Senior Ozzie Miller directs the Dalton High School marching band.
By ZACH McFARREN
DGKN sports writer
DALTON Throughout the year, Dalton’s defense has been the constant, steadying force for a 5-2 Bulldog squad. Friday night, in its OHSAA tournament game at McFarren Field against visiting Malvern, the Dawgs offense decided to get in on the fun as well.
Behind a punishing running attack, Dalton ended Malvern’s season and advanced to the regional semifinals with a 44-14 victory. Tate Geiser and Adam Jarrett anchored a running game that accumulated 320 total yards.
On the opening drive, Malvern drove the ball 31 yards on 12 plays only to have the stingy Dalton ‘D’ stop them cold on a 4th and 11 play. From there, it was all Dalton, all the time.
The Bulldogs scored on each of their five first half possessions. The first score came courtesy of Geiser (18 carries, 128 yards) as he ran it in from a yard out. Not to be outdone, Jarrett (12 carries, 105 yards) scored on the next two drives on runs of 7 and 31 yards. With still over 10 minutes in the half, the Bulldogs led 20-0, and the Hornets were showing little resistance against the Dalton run game. Malvern got a jolt from running back Adam Moser as he broke through the line and outran the Dalton defense for a 40 yard touchdown. Three minutes later, Geiser pushed the lead back to 20 when he punched it in from four yards out.
Dalton forced Malvern to punt after a quick three and out, and with 30 sec left before half, the offense took the field looking for more. Quarterback Ethan Stutz (7 of 8 passing, 77 yards, 1 TD) completed two quick passes and took the brunt of a roughing the passer call to push the ball to the 20 yard line. Adam Knetzer kicked a 30 yard field goal as time expired, and the Dawgs went into half with a 30-7 lead.
The opening drive of the second half was an extension of the first half. Stutz capped off a 65 yard drive when he found Jaiden Malone (3 catches, 24 yards) for a one yard pitch and catch touchdown. With a commanding 30 point lead, and per OHSAA rules, the clock would run continuously.
With Dalton driving yet again to start the fourth quarter, Mother Nature put her stamp on the game when lightning struck and the game was delayed for an hour and half. On the first play after the delay, Geiser scored his third and final touchdown of the evening, giving the Dawgs a 44-7 lead.
Moser scored once more with just over three minutes remaining, but the touchdown was immaterial, and Dalton was able to run out the final three minutes of the game.
Next Friday night, the Bulldogs take on top seeded Warren JFK. Dalton looks to be putting it all together at the right time. With a stout defense and an offense that is finding its stride, Dalton seems poised to make a push deeper still into the state playoffs.