By Adam Knapp
11:50 PM CDT, September 7, 2012
Arkansas City quarterback Riley Dowler claims he can pass when he has to. But he’d rather run. When in doubt, Dowler doesn’t apologize for calling his own number.
“Sometimes he probably keeps it when he shouldn’t,” Ark City coach Jon Wiemers said. “But that’s OK, as long as he’s making some yards.”
That’s exactly what Dowler did Friday night, gaining 104 yards on 24 carries and scoring both Ark City touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 16-0 victory over Andover.
“I probably do keep it too much sometimes,” Dowler said, shrugging his shoulders. “I just like running the ball a lot.”
Those yards didn’t come easily in the first half. At halftime, with Ark City clinging to a 2-0 lead, Dowler had managed just 17 yards on eight carries.
But Andover (1-1) wasn’t doing much, either. The Trojans’ possessions in the first half ended like this: punt, punt, punt, interception, punt, lost fumble, punt.
Andover’s punt to start the second quarter was disastrous for the Trojans. The snap went over the head of punter Conner White, who chased the ball down and tried to get a foot on it. He eventually did, but it was blocked by Ark City defensive lineman Cameron Smith.
“It was so chaotic,” Wiemers said. “We didn’t even have a block on; it was a hold-up return. They had a bad snap and we’re kind of sitting there holding up our guy and not going after the ball. But a few guys realized it and went after it.”
The ball bounced into the end zone for a safety.
Ark City (1-1) had a 10-play drive to start the second half that ended with a punt, but got the possession back at the Andover 31 when the ball bounced off a Trojan and was recovered by a Bulldog.
Three plays later, Dowler scrambled through traffic for a 23-yard touchdown run, putting Ark City ahead 9-0.
“I was just waiting for an opening so I could make my strike,” Dowler said.
Dowler said the Bulldogs weren’t feeling comfortable yet, with so much time remaining. But that’s the way the score stayed until less than two minutes remaining. Ark City put together an 11-play, 65-yard drive – highlighted by a 29-yard pass to Kacy Ternes and ending with Dowler’s one-yard run with 1:57 left in the game.
It was a surprising setback for Andover, which was shut out three times last year but opened this season by scoring 48 points in a road victory over Campus.
“I think that’s a much better Andover team (than last season),” Wiemers said. “I consider that a quality win. Coach (Mike) Lee’s done awesome. In a year they’ve gotten bigger, stronger and more physical. It’s a good win and I would have taken it any way possible, 3-0 or whatever. It was huge for us, more so just the fact that we’re playing some new guys this year who are getting a taste for it, just knowing that they can.”
Chase Ogden led Andover with 101 rushing yards – 69 in the second half – on 19 carries.
Meanwhile, long-suffering Ark City could have a promising future under Wiemers, who is now 6-5 in his second season with the Bulldogs. Wiemers said approximately 85 players are out for football, counting the freshmen, which is more than a year ago.
“I think a lot of it’s just getting kids to buy in all year as opposed to just showing up in June,” Wiemers said. “Anymore, that’s not enough. I mean, 5A’s a tough class. The ones who compete at a high level consider it a year-round thing – from the weight room to summer camps and workouts and all those things. You build that foundation in the offseason."
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