DAYTON — In Dayton’s final home game of the season, it was Mabton’s Roy Zavala who shined.
The 5-foot-7 quarterback slashed the Bulldogs for 99 passing yards and 49 rushing yards, as the Vikings shut out Dayton on the Bulldogs’ home field, 31-0. He found the end zone three times — twice on the ground and once through the air.
“I thought we played pretty good and they beat us on the big play stuff,” Dayton head coach Dean Bickelhaupt said of the 1-7 Bulldogs. “Their quarterback was almost like a one-man team. We didn’t have the legs to run with him and to catch him. He was tough.”
Dayton had to deal with more than just Zavala, however, as injuries took a major toll on the Bulldogs. Senior running back and middle linebacker Lowden Smith re-injured his ankle on Dayton’s third play from scrimmage.
Smith injured the ankle on the opening kickoff in last week’s game against Riverside.
Although he was noticeably slowed, the gritty senior played through the pain in his final game as a Bulldog. On defense, Smith said he focused on finding creases in the Mabton line to rush the quarterback.
“I couldn’t get into my blocking and shed a block because I couldn’t put any weight on my ankle,” Smith said. “I found it pretty tough to play middle linebacker, but I just figured out ways to get through it.”
But Smith and the rest of the Bulldog defense could not contain Mabton’s explosive plays. Dayton held Mabton’s offense scoreless for the entire third quarter, but Zavala connected on a big passing play to seal the game early in the fourth.
With the Vikings leading 18-0, Zavala caught the Bulldog defense off guard with a 49-yard play-action touchdown pass to Emiliano Rodriguez.
“Those are just backbreakers,” Bickelhaupt said. “They just capitalized when they had to. We couldn’t make the play when we needed to.”
Dayton’s offense simply made too many mistakes to win the game, Bickelhaupt said. The Bulldogs coughed up four fumbles — one of which was returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter — and had two interceptions.
“You can’t do that and win a ball game,” Bickelhaupt said of the offensive miscues. “We would have a good drive going and we would have a penalty or a fumble. The mistakes have bitten us all year.”
The Bulldogs had two drives stall inside the 10-yard line with Dayton turning the ball over on downs both times.
Smith’s injury slowed the Bulldogs offense early, as he came up limping after picking up 30 yards on his first three carries.
But a bum ankle would not hold back the senior ball carrier, as he finished with 132 yards on 25 rushes.
“(You) couldn’t ask for a tougher kid,” Bickelhaupt said. “He played 110 (percent) all year, even when he was hurt. I’m very, very proud of him. I’m going to really miss him. He’s a great leader.”
He finished the game with a 31-yard scamper down the right sideline as time wound down despite the injury.
“I felt really good about it,” Smith said of what wound up being the last touch of his high school career. “But knowing that if my ankle wasn’t hurt — I thought I could have broke (the run). I thought I could have broken a couple tonight. I was happy to be able to come out and play tonight and have the opportunity to finish the season.”
Bickelhaupt credited all five of his seniors — Smith, Christian Warner, Guy Spalinger, Logan Hays and Robert Loper — for their leadership throughout the season.
Although Dayton had to battle through depth issues because of injuries, Bickelhaupt said he was impressed with the unity amongst his players.
“We started out with low numbers and I knew we were going to have to be in real good shape to compete,” Bickelhaupt said. “Then we started getting the dings early, then it just kind of escalated. We stayed together. I was really proud of these kids as a team.”
Mabton 31, Dayton 0
Mabton 12 6 0 13 — 31
Dayton 0 0 0 0 — 0
Mab — Zavala 2 run (XP no good)
Mab — Zavala 21 run (2-pt pass no good)
Mab — Pina 1 run (2-pt pass no good)
Mab — Rodriguez 49 pass from Zavala (2-pt run no good)
Mab — Sagrero 55 fumble return (Cambron XP)
First Downs 7 11
Rushes-Yards 32-146 47-195
Passing Yards 99 7
Passes (Att-Comp-Int) 5-10-0 2-8-2
Punts 3-82 0-0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-4
Penalties-Yards 17-103 10-87
RUSHING — Mab: Zavala 20-49-2, Diaz 1-8. Galarza 3-62, Ochoa 2-12, Pina 1-1-1, Abundis 3-3, Sanchez 2-11; Day: Smith 25-132, Kleck 10-11, Waggoner 2-13, Warner 9-42, Team 1-(-4).
PASSING — Mab: Zavala 10-5-0, 99 yards ,1 TD; Day: Warner 7-2-1, 7 yards, Smith 1-0-1 0 yards.
RECEIVING — Mab: Daz 3-33, Sanchez 1-17, Rodriguez 1-49-1; Day: Kleck 2-7.