The Lebanon Yellowjackets are supposed to be in play to defend their Ozark Conference co-championship this season.
After Week 1, count the Rolla Bulldogs as believers.
The Rolla High School football team could do very little to generate much offense against rugged Lebanon. And RHS needed a little help from turnovers to keep the Jackets out of the endzone a few more times in a 27-7 season-opening setback on Friday.
The start of the game was postponed for 30 minutes due to excessive heat.
The Bulldogs produced 141 yards of total offense - all on the ground - and was forced to punt nine times while Lebanon used a balanced attack to churn up 328 yards.
That despite five turnovers by the Jackets - two coming on interceptions by RHS senior Joe Drallmeier.
Despite the turnovers Lebanon scored the game's first three touchdowns to take control.
RHS head coach Willie Howard wasn't down on his players after the game; he stated the obvious – the Bulldogs ran into a more seasoned squad.
"They were physical offensively and defensively," Howard said of Lebanon. "They had returning starters in some key positions. It was a tough test for us."
Difficult particularly for the Bulldogs' two quarterbacks - sophomore starter Kyle Morris and Drallmeier - who were getting their first taste of directing the varsity show.
"They made it difficult, not only for Kyle but also Joe," Howard said. "They were flying around and played a fearless defensive scheme. They kind of welcomed Kyle to the Ozark Conference."
Lebanon scored on the game's first offensive possession, highlighted by a 58-yard pass down the left sidelines from sophomore quarterback Luke Winfrey to senior wideout Josh Archer. Jacket junior running back Elza Evans scored the TD on a three-yard run. Kendrick Tiller added the first of his three PATs.
Lebanon got to the RHS 39 on its next possession, but Evans then fumbled, which was recovered by Rolla senior defensive tackle Jacob Banholzer.
After Rolla's third of four 1st-quarter punts, Lebanon senior Dylan Bradshaw returned it 31 yards to the RHS 35. Lebanon drove to the 18 before Drallmeier picked off Winfrey's pass in the endzone and ran it back 17 yards.
However, RHS was again forced to punt, and this time after a high snap RHS got off just a 12-yard boot, giving the Jackets the ball at the RHS 34. Lebanon would score in four rushing plays, with senior fullback Adam Newell doing the honors from three yards out for the TD with :47 left in the period.
Lebanon scored its third straight touchdown on a seven-play, 51-yard drive, with senior fullback Michael Dalangin plowing in from one yard out at the 6:45 mark. Tiller's PAT made it 21-0.
Page 2 of 3 - Late in the second period Rolla got its lone scoring drive after Drallmeier intercepted Jacket backup QB Chad Howerton.
RHS drove 85 yards on eight rushing plays – six coming from junior back Andy Satulla, who had runs of 37 and 31 yards in the drive. He scored on a three-yard TD run with 1:15 left.
The Bulldogs went into halftime down 21-7.
"At halftime we told them we liked the effort and liked what we were doing defensively," Howard said. "We just had to clean up some miss-tackles. And their two big plays were us being in the wrong spot. But if we force turnovers like that all season good things are going to happen."
There would be just one score in the second half – Evans getting a two-yard TD run with 7:53 remaining. RHS blocked the final extra-point.
Each team looked to sustain a foot or ankle injury to a key player. Banholzer, all-state DT, went down in the second half and Lebanon's Archer left in the second period. Neither returned.
Morris completed just one pass for minus-2 yards in his first career start. Satulla paced the RHS attack with 120 rushing yards on 22 carries.
Winfrey, in his first start, hit on 9-of-17 passes for 126 yards while Evans rushed for 141 yards on 20 attempts.
The Bulldogs will open the home portion of their schedule this week, hosting another of the Ozark Conference's expected elite teams in Springfield Kickapoo on Friday. Kickapoo outscored Springfield Parkview 39-25 last week.
"The schedule makers weren't real kind to us," Howard said. "We'll do our best to give Kickapoo a fight. Our kids understand Lebanon was good, but they also understand they can compete at this level."
Friday's contest will be the first varsity game played on Lions Memorial Field's new synthetic turf, starting at 7 p.m. Prior to the game it will be Bulldog Pride Night, as the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce again sponsors the event from 5:30 p.m. to game time at the parking lot next to the stadium. Free hot dogs and soda will be available as well as give-aways at several booths.
Lebanon 27, Rolla 7
First downs: RHS 6, LHS 17
Yards rushing: RHS 143, LHS 202
Yards passing: RHS minus-2, LHS 126
Total yards: RHS 141, LHS 328
Passing: RHS 1-8, LHS 9-18
Int. thrown: RHS 0, LHS 2
Fumbles lost: RHS 1, LHS 3
Penalties: RHS 5-27, LHS 4-35
Punting: RHS 9-32.6, LHS 2-28.0
The score by periods:
Rolla 0 7 0 0- 7
Page 3 of 3 - Lebanon 14 7 0 6-27
The scoring plays:
Lebanon: E. Evans 3-yard run, Tiller kick (10:06).
Lebanon: Newell 3-yard run, Tiller kick (:47).
Lebanon: Dalangin 1-yard run, Tiller kick (6:45).
Rolla: Satulla 3-yard run, Maynard kick (1:15).
Lebanon: E. Evans 2-yard run, kick blocked (7:53).
Rushing: Rolla - Satulla 22 for 120, Morris 3 for minus 13, Pearson 1 for 1, Drallmeier 5 for 15, Maples 5 for 20, Pierce 1 for 0. Lebanon - E. Evans 20 for 141, Dalangin 5 for 20, Newell 1 for 3, Winfrey 5 for 4, Bradshaw 1 for 7, Lybarger 6 for 25, Howerton 1 for 2.
Passing: Rolla - Morris 1-7-minus 2-0, Satulla 0-1-0-0. Lebanon - Winfrey 9-17-126-1, Howerton 0-1-0-1.
Pass Receiving: Rolla - Matos 1 for minus-2. Lebanon - Bradshaw 3 for 21, Archer 1 for 58, Knight 4 for 42, Hicks 1 for 5.
Interceptions: Rolla - Drallmeier 2 for 26. Lebanon - none.