DAYTON - This season has been a building year for a Dayton football program that entered the year looking for a new identity under first-year head coach Dean Bickelhaupt, and while the Bulldogs did score a league victory this season, an achievement which eluded them last year, the schedule didn't close as well as Bickelhaupt had hoped.
Asotin used a pair of big-play passing strikes and a stingy defense to build a 16-0 halftime lead, which it rode to a 30-14 victory in Dayton Friday.
Ben Servatius first hooked up with running back Johnathon Miller with 8:57 remaining in the second quarter for a 32-yard score that put Asotin (5-3, 3-2) ahead 8-0 after Servatius punched in a keeper for the 2-point conversion.
"We had some mental breakdowns, especially in the first half," Bickelhaupt said. "We got in a hole, and we were playing from behind the whole night, which makes things a lot harder."
In almost a carbon copy of the first scoring play, Servatius found Miller on a short pass that the running back turned into a big play, going 34 yards to make it a 16-point game at the break.
"I was pretty fired up at halftime," Bickelhaupt said. "I'm usually a pretty soft-spoken guy, but I got a little worked up, and I think that got their attention. We definitely did play better in the second half, at least."
The Bulldogs (1-7, 1-4) came out fueled by Bickelhaupt's fire for the final 24 minutes, recovering the opening kickoff after it was muffed by Asotin and marching 23 yards to paydirt on a drive capped by a 3-yard run by Josh Frame, who finished the night with a game-high 127 rushing yards on 18 carries.
However, the momentum shift was short lived for Dayton.
Asotin methodically marched 63 yards on 11 plays on the ensuing drive, which concluded when Servatius scrambled 8 yards for a touchdown before punching in his third 2-point conversion of the night to make it a 24-6 spread.
"They're a good team," Bickelhaupt said of the Panthers. "Still, we know if we had played our game and executed like we should be able to, then we could have beat them. If we had played like we did in the second half all night, then it would have been a different outcome, but that didn't happen."
Dayton made a final charge in the fourth quarter when Colton Bickelhaupt hit Wyatt Frame on a 13-yard touchdown pass over the middle, but Asotin again answered when Servatius scampered into the end zone for the second time to leave the score 30-14 as the Bulldogs could never get the spread under double figures in the second half.
"We know that we still have another game on Friday," Bickelhaupt said in reference to his team's upcoming crossover game. "Hopefully, we can put everything together next week."
The Bulldogs actually have a three-way tie-breaker slated Tuesday night at Pomeroy.
Tri-Cities Prep, Dayton and Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia will vie for the fourth slot into the crossover games Friday.
Dayton and T-O-R square off for two 12-minute halves at 7 p.m., with the winner next playing T-C Prep.
If T-C Prep wins the second mini-game, it takes the fourth spot from the Southeast 2B against the Northeast's No. 1 on Friday, with the winner of the first game taking the fifth slot against the Northeast's No. 6 in a game with no playoff implications, and the loser of game one takes the SE 2B's No. 6 spot against the NE 2B's No. 5 Friday, also with no playoff factors.
For Bickelhaupt, the final week is a fitting close to a season that has seen Dayton begin to move toward being the team its coach envisions it becoming.
"I can see that we're getting there, but we just haven't reached the point where we can flip it," Bickelhaupt said. "The day is coming, but we just haven't quite turned that corner."
Asotin 0 16 8 6 - 30
Dayton 0 0 6 8 - 14
Aso - Miller 32-yard pass from Servatius (2-pt. conversion).
Aso - Miller 34-yard pass from Servatius (2-pt. conversion).
Day - J. Frame 3-yard (PAT failed).
Aso - Miller 8-yard run (2-pt. conversion).
Day - W. Frame 13-yard pass from Bickelhaupt (2-pt. conversion).
Aso - Servatius 11-yard run (conversion failed).
First downs 12 9
Rushes/yards 36-120 32-177
Passing yards 183 79
Passes (att-comp-int) 12-24-0 8-18-0
Punts 0-0 2-59
Fumbles-lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 9-75 8-48
RUSHING - Aso: Servatius 11-61, Miller 9-32, Glover 8-18, Forsberg 3-9, Whittaker 3-5, Henry 2-5; Day: J. Frame 18-127, Henderson 8-60 Bickelhaupt 5-3, Turner 1-13.
PASSING - Aso: Servatius 12-24; Day: Bickelhaupt 8-15, Fullerton 0-3.
RECEIVING - Aso: Miller 3-75, Dalton 3-31, Parsons 2-25, McIntosh 2-18, Forsberg 1-13, Whittaker 1-7; Day: Schlachter 3-30, Turner 3-12, Fullerton 1-22, W. Frame 1-13.