Excitement filled the air and fans filled the seats at Waukee football stadium Friday night as the Warrior football team hosted reigning Class 4A champion Dowling Catholic in the season opener.
Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t transfer into the outcome that Waukee football fans were hoping for as number one Dowling put on an offensive showcase to win 48-14.
Dowling, the reigning five time Class 4A state champion, silenced the Waukee faithful early. With seven minutes left in the first quarter, Dowling opened up the scoring for the game with a three yard touchdown which was quickly followed, four minutes later, with a five yard touchdown, both by Dowling running back Jayson Murray. That would be the start of a more than solid night for Murray who totaled 142 yards on the ground with four touchdowns. That set up Dowling with an early 14-0 lead following the first quarter.
Waukee did a better job at limiting the production of Dowling in quarter two but the Maroons still managed to score with four minutes left in the half to put the halftime score in favor of the visitors 21-0.
Quarter number three was what fans on both sides were expecting from the get go with a combined 35 points scored in the quarter alone. Once again Dowling was the first at the scoring scene, marching down 73 yards to score with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. What proved to be the biggest spark for the Warriors came in the passing game that accounted for 203 of the 278 total yards put forth by Waukee.
That sparked Waukee’s first score of the game with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. Waukee quarterback Mitch Randall connected on a 32 yard pitch and catch with Zach Eaton which then turned into a pitch and catch between Randall and Sam O’Dell for a 30 yard touchdown pass over several defenders. What really took the wind out of Waukee’s sails was the fact that Dowling answered just 18 seconds later on a 63 yard touchdown run.
Dowling added on another touchdown run nearly two minutes later to claim a sizable 42-7 lead with just two minutes left in the third quarter. The passing attack for Waukee struck again with just one minute left in the third after Randall completed his second aerial touchdown of the season thanks to a 77 yard score on a slant pass. That would then be all the scoring for the Warriors who at the time dwindled the Dowling lead to 42-14. Dowling would then tack on one more score with under three minutes left in the game that would end up leading to the eventual 48-14 victory.
In all, the Warriors totaled 278 yards on 47 plays. Waukee totaled 28 rushing attempts for 75 yards but it was the passing game that worked the best with 203 yards on just 19 attempts. Meanwhile, out of the 397 total yards put up by Dowling, only 167 came through the air while 230 yards came on the ground. Dowling helped to wear down the Warriors by completing 21 first downs compared to Waukee’s ten.
The two aerial touchdowns were a few highlights on what was a rather down game for sophomore quarterback Mitch Randall who completed eight passes for 203 yards but did suffered two turnovers via interception.
Regardless of the interceptions, Waukee head coach Scott Carlson thought his sophomore quarterback played well and with exceptional poise.
“Mitch had a pretty good night for what he had to face,” began Carlson. “It wasn’t his greatest game but he went through his reads well preformed well with guys coming at him from every angel.”
It was not the outcome that coach Carlson was hoping for but it was certainly the battle he was expecting.
“Coming into the game we knew Dowling, a five time reigning champion, would put up a a very strong performance and they did,” said Carlson. “They’re a very talented team with great size and one of the best running backs in the state.”
Even with the sizable defeat, coach Carlson saw a lot of positives to work on, highlighted by the defensive play.
“Aside from a few mishaps, I thought our defense played real well,” said Carlson. “We were good at getting to the ball carrier as a team and communicating as a team.”
The Warriors are starting out the season 0-1 for the first time in three years and will still be searching for their first win on Friday, August 31st when the Warriors head to Southeast Polk.