The Hamburg Lions downed the Dewitt Dragons, partially on the back of a breakout performance of senior wide receiver Jalen Wilson, when they took them on in open conference play Friday.
The game ended with the Lions taking home a 42-18 victory and Wilson’s official stats showing that he caught six passes for 180 yards and five touchdowns.
Wilson’s touchdowns were the first five the Lions put on the board.
“Jalen is getting better every week,” Coach Cecil Ray Cossey said. “We went into the game knowing that if we could get the ball on the edge and down the field, we would have some success, but you never anticipate a game like that. We targeted him eight times. Maybe I should’ve targeted him more.”
Hamburg (3-1, 1-0) continued their pattern of strong starts as they led 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-0 with nine minutes left in the half. So far this season, the Lions have outscored their opponents 48-7 in the first quarter.
“We’ve gone into the games with some great game plans,” Cossey said. “In previous years, we’ve struggled with slow starts. We started fast and we’re not struggling with turnovers.”
The Dragons refused to go away, however, and the DeWitt rushing attack exposed the Hamburg defense at times. The Dragons rushed for 254 yards on the ground – two players had over 100 yards.
“They fought back,” Cossey said. “They really went blow-for-blow [with us] in the second and third quarters. We played undisciplined on the defensive front at times and we expect better than that. [The players] owned it and vowed to fix it.”
DeWitt scored with six minutes left in the first half and scored first in the second half to cut into the Hamburg lead. Despite the offensive production, the Dragons were never able to catch up due to three turnovers in Lions’ territory.
“They had some serious momentum in the third quarter,” Cossey said. “[Senior linebacker] Herman Brown’s interception was an NFL-caliber catch and it really took [the momentum] away from them. That was a big play.”
Senior defensive back Brayden Berry had another interception and a forced fumble in the game.
The Lions led by 10 after a Dragons’ touchdown with 7:30 left in the game, but the final strike from senior quarterback Jonathan Kelley to Wilson – this time a 15-yard pass – put the game out of reach for DeWitt.
Kelley finished the game 13-of-24 for 299 yards and five touchdowns – all to Wilson – including an 86-yard deep shot on the first play of the drive.
“I don’t want what Jalen did to make Jonathan’s game get lost,” Cossey said. “We had a lot of production out of both of those guys.”
The Lions had two possessions on which they scored in one play – the other was a 43-yard touchdown run by sophomore Armodd Taylor with a minute left in the game.
“My job is to make sure we’re taking what the defense is giving us,” Cossey said. “We have to be able to attack in every facet.”
Cossey said DeWitt’s rushing attack has made them a different team this year and the Lions “tip their hat” to the Dragons’ effort on Friday.
Hamburg faces Monticello at Campbell Field on Friday in this year’s homecoming game for the Lions. Hamburg beat the Billies 16-6 last year.