HAWARDEN, Iowa | In a game where the third-ranked West Sioux put up 49 points it was the defense that shined the brightest.
Two fumble recoveries in or on the doorstep of the end zone kept 10th-ranked Le Mars Gehlen from putting any pressure on the Falcons as West Sioux picked up a key Class A District 1 victory 49-0 here Friday night.
"We might have put up 49 points on the board but that was late and they were tired," West Sioux Coach Ryan Schwiesow said. "My hat is off to Gehlen but our defense is what won the game for us. There is no doubt about it."
Gehlen was driving for the tying touchdown late in the first half when Eli Ellensohn took the handoff and fumbled the ball into the end zone where it was recovered by West Sioux's Zach Hulshof.
With just 1:13 left in the half the Falcons (6-0, 4-0) went to senior running back Jake Lynott. He had runs of seven and 41 yards and caught a pass of 14 yards. That setup Hunter Dekkers to Victor Hernandez for a 7-yard TD and a 14-0 lead with just nine seconds left in the half.
"Things could have been a little different if they wouldn't have turned the ball over right at the goal line," Schwiesow said. "Our defense played well and I thought our defensive backs played fantastic and were great in coverage all night."
The Jays (5-1, 2-1) would have a chance to respond with their first possession of the second half as quarterback Cole Wiltgen had runs of 16 and 52 to help Gehlen get the ball down to the 2-yard line. Ellensohn took the handoff on third down and fumbled the ball on the 1 and it was recovered by the Falcons.
Once again, the Falcons responded with a scoring drive this one went 99 yards and was capped by a 51-yard gallop by Lynott to make it 21-0.
The Falcons poured it on from there as it was continuous clock the entire fourth quarter.
The West Sioux defense forced six Jays turnovers in the game as Hernandez had a pair of interceptions while Lynott added a pick of his own.
"We are taught to go to the whistle every play, go hard, never stop," Hernandez said. "That is what happens when you play to the echo of the whistle."
Lynott ran for 267 yards and four touchdowns against the Jays last season in a 46-25 Falcons victory. They went to their impressive senior to get their potent offense jump started after neither team got anything in the first seven drives of the game, leading to a scoreless first quarter.
Lynott would break the scoreless tie when he juked one Gehlen defender after another on a 22-yard run to get in the end zone with 8:05 to go in the first half.
Lynott finished the game with 201 yards on the ground and three trips to the end zone while Dekkers threw for 208 yards and two touchdown passes, including a 61-yarder to Kade Lynott in the fourth quarter.
"That is offense 101 because if you are having some trouble moving the ball go to your guys that are your horses," Schwiesow said. "That is Chase Koopmans and Jake Lynott. Our offensive line put it on their back and we had to run the ball a little bit."
West Sioux finished the game with 240 yards on the ground.
Turnovers ruled the rest of the first half as Lynott picked off Wiltgen only to have the Jays defense pick off Dekkers when Lucas McCarty stepped in front of the pass. Dekkers came into the game with just one interception on the season.
Gehlen would drive the ball all the way down to the Falcons 6 before it turned the ball over on downs on a pass broken up by Lynott.
The Jays picked off Dekkers for the second time when Elijah Freking grabbed the interception, setting up his team 19 yards away from the end zone. The turnover ended that drive.
West Sioux kept Wiltgen under almost constant pressure with a blitzing defense that saw Hulshof and Zach McKee record key sacks.
"That was the plan going in (to pressure the quarterback)," Schwiesow said. "We got the lead and then we were able to pin our ears back a little bit."
Wiltgen threw for 124 yards with three interceptions but the running game never got going for the Jays as it was held to 86 yards.
The Falcons are back home Friday when they host Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto while the Jays are in Le Mars to take on Akron-Westfield.
"That put us in the driver's seat (in the district), but I expect Gehlen to be right there too in the chase for the playoffs," Schwiesow said.