DAYTON — Things look bad when the opposing team returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown. It gets worse when you fumble the ensuing kick.
That’s how Dayton found itself down 13-0 to 1A opponent Lowry without having run an offensive play.
Big plays and turnovers cost Dayton in a 46-13 loss to Lowry. The Dust Devils fought back after the bad start.
Down 13-0 in the second quarter, Quinn Santana sacked Buckaroo quarterback Calvin Conners, knocking the ball loose and linebacker Tallen Chavez recovered at Lowry’s 35-yard line.
Dust Devil running back Austin Fletcher scored on a 13-yard run after carries of eight, four and four yards to bring Dayton within seven points, but that would be as close as the Dust Devils would get.
Lowry scored on its next possession, running just six plays to cover 54 yards. Conners scrambled for 20 to set up the score.
Conners returned a an interception from Dayton quarterback Davis Winebarger 58 yards for a score on Dayton’s next possession to put the Buckaroos up 26-6.
Dayton couldn’t manage to generate more than four yards, giving Lowry the ball on Dayton’s 35 after an 18-yard punt return by Brandon Okuma. The Buckaroos needed just six plays to push into the end zone. Conners threw for 18 yards and Okuma carried for 16 before scoring on a 2-yard run to give Lowry a 36-6 lead with 23.5 seconds left in the first half.
The Dust Devil’s big highlight of the game came in the fourth quarter when, down 39-6, Winebarger found Dallon Mendoza running free behind the defense and connected for a 47-yard scoring play.
Lowry would score once more on a two-play drive after Dayton faked a punt in its own territory only to see the pass fall incomplete. Lowry backup quarterback Christian Gray connected with Troy Hardy for 26 yards and Donovan Brumm punched it in from the 1. Tytin Johnson’s kick was good and Lowry led 46-13 with four minutes left in the game.
“I really think we can take a lot of positives out of this game. We can move the ball against a really good defense like that,” said Dayton coach Rob Turner.
Turner did fault his team’s offensive consistency.
“We’d do something right and wouldn’t come back to it for too long,” he said. “We’ve got to step on the gas pedal and we didn’t do that offensively tonight.”
Twice the Dust Devils had drives stopped on downs.
“When you’re rolling and it’s fourth-and-two, you expect to be able to get two yards. When you’re a running team — a run first team — you should get two yards and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that tonight and that’s really frustrating. When it’s fourth and two, we need to rise to the occasion and we just didn’t tonight.”
The Dust Devils still have a chance to make the playoffs with five games remaining.
“If we take care of business, there’s still a chance we make the playoffs with some momentum behind us.”
Fletcher led all rushers with 25 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown. Santana gained 37 yards on 10 carries. Winebarger finished with 99 yards on 6-of-14 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions.
For Lowry, Okuma had 67 yards and two scores on 12 carries and returned a kick for a touchdown. Beau Billingsley carried the ball 14 times, picking up 64 yards.
Lowry leads the Northern 1A division with a 4-0 recored while Dayton falls to 1-3.