DAYTON - A game that opened with fireworks didn't deliver many on the field at Dayton's Homecoming matchup with Waitsburg-Prescott Friday.
The Bulldogs (1-4, 1-1 league) fell at home to neighbor and Southeast 2B Conference rival Waitsburg-Prescott (4-0, 2-0), 20-0, in a closer game than the shutout score indicated.
W-P's T.J. Hofer picked off Dayton quarterback Colton Bickelhaupt on the first offensive play of the night, taking the interception 27 yards for a touchdown and quick 6-0 lead less than a minute into play.
And the 6-0 score held through the first half.
"We were flat-footed," said W-P coach Jeff Bartlow. "We didn't execute on the offense. We didn't have an offensive point in the first half ... We've got to execute and have a better edge."
Although the Bulldogs moved as near as W-P's seven yard line in the first half, they couldn't turn the drive into points.
"That was huge for us," Bartlow said of W-P's hold of the Dayton offense, after Bickelhaupt and receiver Dain Henderson moved the ball 35 yards in three plays. "They had us right where they wanted us, and it was a scare. We might've gone into halftime down, but we held them where we needed to."
An eventual sack and loss of 18 yards helped nullify the threat, which was also Dayton's best chance to score on the night.
"They played hard," said Dayton coach Dean Bickelhaupt. "We gave 110 percent in that game. It's the way the ball bounces - and they had more bounces in their favor. If a couple of plays had gone differently, it would've been 6-0 (final score)."
W-P came back from the break and marched down the field to score on a 1-yard Justin Armstrong run, capped by a 2-point conversion pass from Zach Bartlow to Armstrong.
Bartlow had nine completions for 138 yards - while Dayton counterpart Bickelhaupt had 10 completions for 76 yards.
The biggest play of the night came late in the third quarter, when Bartlow passed to Kris Cady and Cady fumbled after being hit mid-catch. W-P's Anthony Powell recovered the fumble and turned it into a 44-yard touchdown run.
The kick failed, but the six points stacked on for a 20-0 score and closed scoring.
But four fumbles and one turnover nearly benefited Dayton, while Dayton had six drops - and six recoveries.
Early in the fourth, Dayton linebacker Mike Gatlin went down on a hard hit and eventually left the field on a stretcher. Bulldog coach Bickelhaupt said Gatlin took a hit to the chest and had trouble breathing, although he was moving and conscious.
And later in the fourth, QB Bickelhaupt left the field for good with a hyperextended knee and was replaced by backup Lowden Smith.
"They played with heart and did everything I asked," coach Bickelhaupt said. "I can't ask for more. Even though we lost, they were all positive on the sidelines. That's the way these kids are."
Dayton got its first victory of the season last week against Tri-Cities Prep, ending a 26-game skid.
"I think we're going to surprise a couple of teams," Bickelhaupt said. "We surprised W-P tonight. ... Offensively, we're getting better, and things are clicking. We're getting there. We're a work in progress.
"We didn't win, but it takes a while to get back into the mindset. We're gaining confidence," he continued. "We had a big improvement and the guys are trusting each other. That make a big difference."
Dayton plays at Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia Friday.
Meanwhile, W-P hosts Tri-Cities Prep.
"We didn't feel ‘normal' tonight. We had some stumbles," Bartlow said. "I hope we can correct some of those stumbles next week."
Tri-Cities Prep is pass-happy with a spread-the-field offense, he said.
"It's a completely different preparation," Bartlow said. "We've got to execute offensively. But the lesson is learned - we got the win, we got the shutout, but we made mistakes. Dayton was prepared and it was a pretty good game."
W-P 20, Dayton 0
W-P 6 0 14 0 - 20
Dayton 0 0 0 0 - 0
W-P - Hofer 27-yard interception (kick fail)
W-P - Armstrong 1 yard run (Bartlow to Armstrong)
W-P - Powell 44-yard fumble recovery (kick fail)
First Downs 12 12
ushes-Yards 22-139 36-130
Passing Yards 138 76
Passes (Att-Comp-Int) 16-9-1 10-7-2
Punts 2-58 4-104
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 6-0
Penalties-Yards 2-25 5-40
RUSHING - W-P: Bartlow 9-28, Cady 10-99, Armstrong 2-2 (1 TD), Estes 1-10. Dayton: Bickelhaupt 14-5, Henderson 14-100, W. Frame 1-12, J. Frame 4-1, Schlachter 1-8, Fullerton 1-4, Smith 1-0.
PASSING - W-P: Bartlow 8-138. Dayton: Bickelhaupt 7-76, L. Smith 1-0.
RECEIVING - W-P: Hofer 3-44, Estes 2-33, Powell 1-17, Rivas 1-4, Cady 2-40. Dayton: W. Frame 2-21, J. Frame 3-9, Schlachter 1-10, Turner 1-14, Fullerton 1-22.