West Delaware rushed for 385 yards and the Hawk defense bent but didn’t break while limiting an explosive Hampton Dumont-CAL offense to just a field goal in a 41-3 win over the road-weary Bulldogs, at Brown Field, Oct. 8.

This one had a little of everything, from the wet playing field and persistent ground fog to big plays offensively and defensively by both teams.

“The conditions didn’t help. We lost a couple balls,” said West Delaware coach Doug Winkowitsch. “Credit to them. They stripped a ball and popped that one out down near the end zone.”

“We knew they were a scrappy football team and not a bad football team. This is a situation where this is a great primer for us, a great win, and the kids played hard. We just have to clean up some mistakes.”

It didn’t take long to see West Delaware was going to light up the scoreboard, as the Hawks took the opening kickoff and went 66 yards in four plays, with Kyle Cole doing the honors from 19 yards to lead 7-0 just 47 seconds in.

When Raub Loecke scooped up a fumble on the Bulldogs’ first offensive possession, the Hawks were back in business at the Hampton-Dumont-CAL 31, but eventually turned the ball over on downs at the 15-yard line.

The Bulldogs picked up a first down on the next possession, but when forced to punt, West Delaware’s Conner Funk returned the kick 33 yards to the H-D-CAL 39. It took only five plays for the Hawks to find the zone, with Wyatt Voelker rumbling in from four yards and it was 14-0 at the 3:50 mark of the first period.

After Funk’s kickoff resulted in a touchback, the Bulldogs went three and out from their 20. Another return by Funk gave the Hawks great field position at the H-D-CAL 28. Six plays later, Voelker scored for the second time from three yards and it was 20-0 as the period closed.

The Bulldogs found some offensive flow, and moved to the West Delaware 10 on their next possession, but could only manage a 26-yard Cal Heeren field goal.

The Bulldogs forced a Hawk turnover on the ensuing possession when Marco Guerrero stripped Voelker after a big gain. H-D-CAL moved again into West Delaware territory, but stalled at the Hawk 31.

“We knew we were going to give up some yards on the ground,” Winkowitsch said. “We put a couple more guys in coverage knowing this kid (Heeren) could sling it really well. We knew they could score quick. We took advantage of that, and they took advantage on the ground, but the five guys in the box did a nice job.”

The Hawks looked as if they were going to increase the advantage late in the half, taking over at their own 34. Cole found tight end Luke Kehrli open behind the Bulldog defense and it was a footrace to the end zone, but Guerrero was again the spoiler when he popped the ball loose from Kehrli near the goal line and H-D-CAL recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

When the Bulldogs went three and out, Funk’s punt return put the Hawks on the visitor’s 32. West Delaware used the clock wisely, and Cole found Jaxson Woellert alone in the secondary for a 17-yard touchdown with 8.9 seconds remaining to make it a 27-3 game at the half.

When Guerrero took the opening kickoff of the second half and made a terrific return to the West Delaware 32, it looked as if the Bulldogs were going to make a game of it. But again, the Hawk defense came up big and H-D-CAL turned the ball over on downs at the 27.

The Hawks then went 70 yards in eight plays, with Cole pounding it in from five yards to make it 34-3 midway through the third.

Lukas Meyer intercepted Heeren on the next H-D-CAL possession, but the Hawks were forced to punt. The Bulldogs moved the ball once again, but Isaac Fettkether’s interception ended the threat and West Delaware took over at its own 25.

Nine plays later — all runs — Voelker’s third TD of the night put the contest in running clock mode at 41-3 with 8:12 remaining.

“Unfortunately, turnovers and penalties hurt us tonight. We really wanted to play a sharp game,” Winkowitsch said following the contest. “I’ve got to give our kids credit — they fought. That’s a pretty scrappy team over there.”

The Hawks face Independence on the road, Friday, Oct. 15 with a district title on the line.

“Our focus will be the same as it always is,” said Winkowitsch. “We just have to make sure we take a step forward and we have to get better this week — every position and every coach. We just need to take a big step this week.”

West Delaware statistics against Hampton-Dumont-CAL: passing — Cole 4-of-10 for 96 yards and one TD; rushing — Voelker 21-for-183, Cole 19-for-135, Haze Seibert 3-for-35, Funk 2-for-30, Will Ward 2-for-5; receiving — Ward 2-for-15, Kehrli 1-for-64, Woellert 1-for-17 and one TD; kick returns — Will Halverson 1-for-20, Kaden Ryan 1-for-11; punt returns — Funk 3-for-81; tackles — Logan Peyton 11, Jesse Lewin 7.5. Voelker seven, Loecke 4.5, Fettkether 3.5, Funk and Kehrli three, Sawyer Falck 2.5, Halverson, Blake Engel, Jack Smith, Noah Felton and Luke Reth two, Cody Monaghan 1.5, Cole one, Meyer 0.5; interceptions — Meyer and Fettkether; fumble recovery — Loecke.