Gators use 42-point second quarter to sink Clear Falls
When a dream beginning morphed into a nightmarish second quarter, Clear Falls couldn’t awaken quick enough Saturday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Dickinson scored six touchdowns in a span of 10 minutes to turn a once-challenging affair into an eventual 55-14 rout in a District 24-6A football game.
After the Gators roused from their own slumber, Dickinson found the form that has led it to seven consecutive victories to begin the 2018 campaign.
The scrappy Knights led 14-7 after Donte Proctor’s 68-yard diagonal sprint to the end zone just 13 seconds into the second quarter.
While that would seem to have invigorated Clear Falls (3-4, 0-3), all it did was energize the Gators.
In compiling all of its points, Dickinson (3-0 in District 24-6A) scored on eight straight possessions.
“Clear Falls came out and was taking it to us,” Gator head coach John Snelson said. “They were just playing harder than us early. They were running the ball down our throat.
“We had special teams issues and gave (the ball) right back to them. Fifteen-, 16-, 17-year old kids…I say it all the time - whichever sideline has the momentum has the best shot.”
It was just 41 seconds after Proctor’s score that Dickinson tied the game at 14 on a 1-yard run by Gator quarterback Mike Welch. It was the Dickinson signal-caller’s 69-yard run on the first play of the drive which set up the score.
Snelson believed that particular carry ignited his squad.
“I thought whenever Welch broke that long run, that kind of let everybody know ‘hey, they ain’t going away.’ But hats off to coach (Zach) Head and his staff. They’ve been going through some issues over there, but he and his coaches had their kids ready to play.”
Head couldn’t disagree with that assessment, certainly not at the outset.
The Knights took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards to a 7-0 lead, capped by an improvised 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gavin Esquivel to wide receiver Brandon Woodson.
Clear Falls then recovered a mishandled pooch kick, and although the Knights didn’t convert that into points, they did stop Dickinson on its next drive.
After that, however, the Gators dominated the remainder of the matchup.
“For about 16 minutes, we were neck-and-neck with them, and then for about an eight-minute stretch in the second quarter, we kind of let things steamroll in all three phases, and we let them take that big lead,” Head said.
“For 16 minutes, we proved we can play with a really good football team, which they are. I think they’re going to make a really long run. We just have to find a way to make it 48 minutes - not 16 minutes on and eight minutes off.”
Welch and Gator senior running back Jordan Green were a two-man wrecking crew on the ground while the former showed his affinity for success through the air.
Welch connected with junior wide receiver Darryl Harris on a threaded 61-yard pass to give Dickinson the lead for good at 21-14 with 8:48 left in the second quarter.
After a Falls three-and-out, the advantage climbed to 28-14 on a six-play drive. This time, Welch swept left end from 12 yards for the score.
Although a Falls punt pinned Dickinson to its 18-yard line, the Gators didn’t stay there long. Seven plays later, they were in the end zone again.
Once more, it was Welch firing a perfect strike to Harris, this time covering 48 yards as the bulge widened to 35-14 with 2:36 left in the half.
Clear Falls saw matters turn worse on its next possession when Gator junior defensive back Savien Arnett intercepted a pass and weaved his way 40 yards for a touchdown and a 42-14 score with 2:05 showing.
Another Dickinson defensive stand resulted in another Knight punt, and this time the Gators began a drive at their own 41-yard line.
In just three plays, Dickinson opened a 49-14 lead to finalize the 42-point barrage.
The big installment in that abbreviated march was a 54-yard run by Green, who capped the drive with a 5-yard run with 1:07 left in the half.
Dickinson then gave its first-teamers a break after scoring on the first possession of the second half. Welch did the honors from 39 yards for the 55-14 cushion just 99 seconds into the third period.
Welch finished with 147 yards rushing on just nine carries while Green amassed 163 yards on 18 attempts. Welch also completed four of eight passes for 122 yards and two scores.
Dickinson rolled up 511 total yards, including 389 on the ground.
The Gators next play Clear Springs in a battle of unbeaten District 24-6A frontrunners on Friday in Dickinson.
Snelson knows his team will need a much better start in that encounter.
“Dang sure do,” the veteran head coach said. “That was a learning experience right there. We have to come ready every week.
“Clear Springs is playing well.”
As for Clear Falls, it looks to get back on the winning track next Friday at Alvin.
“We showed how good we’re capable of being, and that’s without some guys (Saturday),” Head said. “We’re still short some of our main guys, and we’ll get some of those back in the weeks to come. But despite that, other guys are stepping up and doing good things.
“That eight-minute stretch, we just fell apart. We’ll come back strong and get ready for (Alvin).”