ARCHIVE PHOTO BY LISA McGINTY | LMc Photography
Dawgs get ready to take the field at a game earlier this season.
By ZACH McFARREN
DGKN sports writer
Lightning lit up the distant sky Friday night in West Salem. The only storm that was any concern to host Northwestern was the one being brought on by Dalton. And senior Jaden Schlabach brought the thunder all night long.
Dalton set the tone early, taking their opening drive 70 yards in just under two minutes to take a 7-0 lead when quarterback Ethan Stutz hit Owen Beatty for a 10 yard score. From there, Schlabach took matters into his own hands, and the rout was on.
On the Huskies first possession, Schlabach stepped in front of a pass and returned the interception 50 yards for the pick six. Dalton had a 14-0 lead, and four minutes hadn’t yet eclipsed off the clock. Dalton had the opportunity to extend the lead further after Northwestern punted and fumbled on consecutive possessions, but Dalton turned the ball over twice themselves, once on an interception and once on downs, deep in Northwestern territory. Enter Schlabach once more.
The seniors second pick six of the game came four minutes into the second quarter. His 40 yard touchdown put Dalton up 22-0, and despite the Huskies kickoff return for a touchdown on the ensuing kick, the Dawgs were looking to put this game away early.
After denying the Huskies a first down on fourth and short, Stutz (16 of 21, 158 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) floated a pass to Schlabach on a perfectly executed screen. Schlabach simply outsprinted the defenders on his way to a 44 yard touchdown reception, pushing the lead to 30-6. Northwestern gave the ball back to Dalton on a fumble just before halftime, and the Bulldogs took advantage.
Jaiden Malone (9 receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD) got in on the fun, hauling in a Stutz pass from 13 yards out. And with that, Dalton took a 37-6 lead into the locker room. The second half would start and finish with a running clock, per OHSAA rules, but Dalton kept right on rumbling.
Malone would set Dalton up on the Husky 20 with a long punt return to start the second half for the Bulldogs. After Malone ran for 13 more yards, Dalton was looking at first and goal from the three. Schlabach got his fourth TD of the evening, ramming his way in from the two. Despite only a single possession in the third quarter, Dalton led 44-6. The fourth quarter gave us one more big bang, this time courtesy of Tate Geiser.
The senior back wanted to score worse than Northwest-ern wanted to tackle him, and after breaking several tackles, Geiser (8 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD) outran the defense to the tune of an 84 yard touchdown. With that, the storm subsided, and Dalton left West Salem with a dominating 50-6 victory.
A suffocating Dalton defense allowed Northwestern just 139 yards of total offense for the game while forcing five turnovers. On both sides of the ball, the Bulldogs owned this contest. And when the damage was done, Dalton left after sending a message to the league that they are here to play. They are here to win. And a week 10 showdown with Norwayne is looking to be the battle for WCAL supremacy.