DAYTON - The Bulldogs dominated visiting Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia Friday night, steam-rolling the Nighthawks to the tune of 348 yards of total offense en route to a 26-6 Southeast 2B victory.
Senior running back Hayden Fullerton turned in a powerful performance for the Bulldogs, rushing for 121 yards on 21 carries. Dayton quarterback Colton Bickelhaupt threw for 106 yards and ran for 50 more, but was only 4-for-12 in passing and had an interception.
"He's (Fullerton) a work horse," Dayton coach Dean Bickelhaupt said. "He works real hard. He's hard to bring down, he keeps his feel moving really good and he keeps kids fired up.
"He gets everything he can out of every run," he said.
Although the Bulldogs ran the ball at will against TOR, missed red-zone opportunities, turnovers and penalties killed three out of Dayton's first four drives on the night.
But, in the words of Bill Murray's character Tripper from the 1979 classic "Meatballs", "It just doesn't matter!"
It just didn't matter that Dayton failed to convert an on-side kick and gave the Nighthawks the ball on their own 46 yard line to start the game, it didn't matter that Bickelhaupt threw an interception at the TOR 12, or that the Bulldogs had eight penalties for 55 yards.
It didn't matter because Dayton's defense was stalwart, holding the Nighthawks to 147 yards of offense on the night and shutting TOR out until a fourth-quarter touchdown finally got them on the board.
"Offensively, I thought it was pretty good," coach Bickelhaupt said. "It was kind of inconsistent, but it was OK."
Most of the starters on defense for Dayton also start on offense, so the disparity perplexed coach Bickelhaupt.
"It (the difference between the defense and offense) might be because how well they've been doing defensively," he said. "They could have more confidence (on defense). I told the guys ‘You need to take as much pride in your offensive possessions as you do your defense.'"
The defense did, however, get off to a slow start. TOR took the excellent field position from Dayton's onside kick and ran the ball straight into the belly of the Dayton defense using a wishbone formation with two halfbacks and a fullback. With a combination of power and misdirection, the Nighthawks drove the ball down to the Dayton 21 before the Bulldogs' defense stiffened and stuffed two TOR runs for loss. The Nighthawks missed the ensuing field goal attempt.
"We started out kinda sluggish I thought," coach Bickelhaupt said. "After playing Waitsburg last week I thought we weren't as pumped up as we should have been - we kinda settled down and started playing football."
Dayton took over and went on a 73-yard, 18-play drive that took 7:52 off the clock.
Midway through the drive, two false starts in three plays threatened to kill the drive as the Bulldogs were faced with a second-and-18 from their own 45. A four-yard scramble from Bickelhaupt and an eight-yard screen pass to Fullerton left Dayton with a fourth-and-six and they lined up to punt. Fullerton lined up to take the punt, but instead found a wide-open Joey Schlachter for a 24-yard completion down the right sideline.
Dayton made it all the way down to the TOR 16 before three consecutive passes to the end zone went for incompletions. Bickelhaupt was stopped behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-10 and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs.
TOR went three-and-out on its next possession after sophomore linebacker Guy Spalinger came unopposed on a blitz from the left side to crush the Nighthawks' quarterback Ryan Maley for a 10-yard sack on third down.
A poor punt gave the Bulldogs excellent field position on the Nighthawk 38.
This time Dayton made the most of it, as junior halfback Isaiah Lambert found a seam on first down at the TOR 15 and punched it in for a touchdown with 7:30 left in the first half.
Senior defensive tackle Kroft Sunderland almost single-handedly killed the next Nighthawk drive when he stopped TOR running back Crag Nelson for a five-yard loss and then a play later pressured Maley into throwing an inerception.
Dayton's next touchdown came after an 11-play drive to start the second half. This time Dayton stuck to the run in the red-zone, and Bickelhaupt followed his offensive line into the end zone for a 2-yard, stand-up QB sneak.
Yet another TOR three-and-out later and the Bulldogs scored again. Lambert found a big hole up the TOR middle and walked in for an easy 7-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 20-0 lead with 2:36 left in the third quarter.
TOR's fourth-quarter touchdown showed Dayton's weakness: depth.
Junior receiver Wyatt Frame rolled his ankle after taking a handoff for a five-yard gain and, up 20-0 with less than two minutes left in the third, the coaches decided to give him a rest. Frame is also a starting corner and TOR found the weakness in the Dayton defense and scored on the next drive as Maley found Joe Galnes for a 37 yard touchdown pass.
"I noticed him limping a little bit and I thought, ‘Well I'm going to get him out for a bit,'" coach Bickelhaupt said. "It's tough when you're playing 11-man football - you want to give them a break sometimes.
"We condition them pretty well, so that helps," he said.
Dayton scored its final touchdown when Bickelhaupt ran for a 12-yarder with 1:24 left in the game.
The win pushes Dayton to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the SE2B. The Bulldogs are tied with DeSales and Asotin for second place.
Dayton will have a chance to take sole possession of second place when it faces DeSales Friday in Walla Walla.
Dayton 26, Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia 6.
TOR 0 0 0 6 - 6
Day 0 6 14 6 - 26
Day - Lambert 28 run (kick failed).
Day - Bickelhaupt 2 yard run (Tuner pass from Bickelhaupt).
Day - Lambert 7 run (kick failed).
TOR - Galnes 37 pass from Maley (kick failed).
Day - Bickelhaupt 12 run (kick failed).
First downs 8 12
Rushes/yards 26-67 45-218
Passing yards 80 130
Passes (att-comp-int) 9-18-0 5-13-1
Punts 5-141 2-70
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 2-25 8-55
RUSHING - TOR: Littleton 7-1, Galnes 6-22, Nelson 10-55, Maley 3-(-)11; Day: Fullerton 22-121, Bickelhaupt 15-50, Lambert 10-42, Frame 1-5.
PASSING - TOR: Maley 9-18-0 80 yards; Day: Bickelhaupt 4-12-1 106 yards, Fullerton 1-1-0 24 yards.
RECEIVING - TOR: Galnes 1-37, Shelton 1-15, Brown 2-15, Jacobs 1-4, Nelson 1-(-)2; Day: Frame 2-75, Fullerton 2-32, Tuner 1-23.