Dalton’s Jaden Schlabach Saturday against Lucas.
Dalton’s Jaiden Malone celebrates a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ playoff match against Lucas High School.
PHOTOS BY LISA McGINTY | LMc Photography
PHOTO BY LISA McGINTY | LMc Photography
Schlabach and Malone celebrate a touchdown.
Head Coach Broc Dial speaks to his team. The student section and other fans cheer and try to stay warm Saturday during the playoff game against Lucas at Triway.
Photos by GRACE GREER | Grace Greer Photography
By ZACH McFARREN | DGKN sports writer
Saturday night in Triway, Lucas had Dalton right where they wanted them. The Cubs controlled the ball, taking the opening kick and moving the ball inside the Bulldogs 25 yard line,converting two fourth downs along the way. With a 40 yard field goal, Lucas took the lead, eating up half of the opening quarter’s clock in the process.
The problem was, Dalton got the ball next, and that’s where it all went wrong for Lucas, the district’s number one seed entering the game.
In just three plays, Dalton had the lead, thanks to an Ethan Stutz to Jaiden Malone 61 yard touchdown connection. It was the beginning of the end for the Cubs as Dalton simply went around, over, and through Lucas’ defense.
After Dalton’s defense forced Lucas to punt, Jaden Schlabach gave the Bulldogs a 14-3 lead on the first play of the possession. Hitting a massive hole created by the offensive line, Schlabach (17 carries, 182 yards, 3 TD) raced 54 yards for his first score of the evening.
After exchanging fruitless possessions, Lucas pushed the ball once again into Dalton’s territory, looking to close the gap and take the momentum. Enter Jaiden Malone. Once again, the senior defensive back/receiver put his stamp on the game, and in back-to-back plays, he gave Dalton all the momentum needed to slam the door shut.
First, Malone intercepted a Lucas pass at the one yard line. Facing a long field, Malone and Stutz quickly flipped the script and put the Cubs back on their heels. Stutz lofted the ball perfectly down the sideline, leading Malone (7 receptions, 168 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) for a 44 yard gain. Add on a 15 yard penalty by the Cubs, and Dalton was threatening again after just one play. Since it worked so well, Stutz (10 for 14, 209 yards, 2 TD) went right back to Malone, connecting on a 14 yard touchdown and a 21-3 lead that all but put an end to this game before halftime had arrived.
Just to be sure, however, Schlabach imposed his will once again, and with a minute to go before the break, he busted through the line for a 25 yard touchdown jaunt. With that, the Bulldogs took a 28-3 lead into halftime. And for anyone that was hoping for a Lucas comeback? Well, that just wasn’t going to happen.
The second half was another opportunity for Dalton to make quick work of another quality team. With Schlabach adding his final touchdown of the contest with a 24 yard score, the clock would continue to run, and Dalton would continue to win.
Lucas would punch in two scores in the fourth quarter. Sandwiched between those scores, Tate Geiser added a four yard touchdown for Dalton. At any given point during the game, the Dawgs were in control, both physically and emotionally.
A 42-23 final showcased exactly what Dalton is capable of.
Run it. Throw it. Defend it. Dominate it.
Right now, the Bulldogs are making this look easy. A regional final awaits. What have the Bulldogs earned? Nothing, except for another chance to show up and get after it. For now, that’s all that matters.
Dalton’s football team plays in the OHSAA regional finals at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 against Warren JFK at Marlington Stadium in Alliance.