WEBSTER CITY - Alex Oswald walked, talked, ran and passed like a first-year starter in Webster City's Week 1 loss to Ballard.
But a lot changed in seven days.
Oswald, a junior spinback, was the offensive artist Friday night, painting a nearly perfect picture for 3 1/2 quarters before he trotted off the field and put his helmet away for good at Lynx Field.
DFJ photo Troy Banning
Webster City senior tailback Austin Myers goes airborne after having his legs cut out from under him down near the goal line against Gilbert on Friday at Lynx Field. Myers scored on the next play, as he helped WCHS take the Tigers behind the woodshed, 55-13.
He rushed for an even 100 yards and one touchdown on just seven carries, and passed for another 70 yards and two more scores in Webster City's 55-13 rout of non-district foe Gilbert in front of a boisterous home crowd.
It was the Lynx seventh consecutive victory at Lynx Field - they last lost on their home turf to Waverly-Shell Rock, 37-6, on Oct. 27, 2010, during the Class 3A state playoffs first round - and more importantly it sends them into the district schedule with a wave of momentum.
"We came out with a lot more fire (Friday night)," Oswald said. "It was kind of good that we got our butts handed to us (by Ballard) because it made us work harder in practice and everybody studied because we needed it."
Friday's tussle was over by halftime. WCHS (1-1) forced a pair of first-half fumbles that it turned into 14 points, and the defense limited Gilbert (1-1) to just 24 yards of total offense and two first downs en route to a 41-0 Lynx advantage.
"That looked better and felt better," WCHS senior tight end and defensive tackle Boone Myers said. "This got our minds right. We got into that dominate mind-set, and we just kept on them the whole night."
Myers was on the receiving end of one of Oswald's two touchdown passes. On fourth-and-5 from the Gilbert 32 midway through the second quarter, Myers broke free over the middle of the field and Oswald hit him in stride on his way to the end zone to push the Lynx in front 34-0.
Ten minutes earlier, following the second fumble recovery by linebacker Rylee Lawson, Oswald and receiver Ben Mossman hooked up on a 27-yard touchdown on the first play of the drive with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter that gave WCHS a three-touchdown lead.
"They were playing their free safety in the middle of the box, so there were some passes there and (Oswald) hit them," WCHS head coach Bob Howard said after he notched career win No. 284. "The more reps he gets the more he'll loosen up back there."
Gilbert opened the game with a fumble deep in its own territory, and two plays later wingback Trey Tesdahl went around the left side and into the end zone from 10 yards out.
Tailback Connor Larson powered his way across the goal line from 2 and 3 yards away in the first half to help put the game out of reach.
With a continuous clock in the second half, Larson didn't waste any time adding to the Lynx lead. On the first play from scrimmage, he busted two tackles near the line of scrimmage, broke off his run to the outside and then outran a pair of defenders down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown run. He churned out a game- and career-high 129 yards on just 11 totes - an average of 11.7 yards per carry.
Senior Austin Myers - making his season debut - gave the Lynx another weapon in the backfield. His speed and decisiveness translated into 74 ground yards on seven lugs, capped by a 5-yard scamper up the middle and to the house with 1:11 remaining in the third quarter.
"Connor runs hard and he'll only get better, and Austin Myers is a heck of a running back, too," Howard said. "Boone had a huge game at tight end also, just crushing their defensive end, and the offensive line got better."
Oswald, who completed 3-for-4 passes, says most of the credit should go to the boys up front, who took criticism after the opening week and answered the challenge.
"Our offensive line did one heck of a job," Oswald said. "Those guys put the hammer down and took it to them. On that first (touchdown) pass (to Mossman) I had nobody near me. I could have camped out back there for a couple of days."
WCHS finished with 444 yards of total offense - 374 on the ground - compared to just 170 for Gilbert.
The Tigers scored a pair of second half touchdowns to avoid the shutout; Jared Gescheidler bulldozed his way up the middle and scored from 5 yards out with 7:33 remaining in the third quarter, and quarterback Jordan Knock hit Chase Whetstone with a quick 10-yard pass over the middle with 8:40 left in regulation.
But for the majority of the night, Gilbert simply had no answer for the Lynx attacking defense. WCHS forced three turnovers, collected three sacks - two by reserve nose guard Marshall Weber and one by Lawson - and held the Tigers to three-and-out on four occasions.
"The defense played very well again, and we've got the potential there to be a pretty good defense," Howard said. "There's obviously talent there and then they've worked real hard on their quickness. They played well last week (against Ballard) and then pretty much dominated this week."
Lawson finished with a game-high 8 1/2 tackles, including three solo stops. Nelson Ball and Cal Zahn both had three solo tackles as well.
Gilbert had just six first downs. Tailback Chris Culek rushed for 70 yards, but no other Tiger gained more than five yards on the ground.
Knock completed 7-of-14 passes for 90 yards.
WCHS will begin the push to the playoffs this Friday at Class 3A District 3 rival Charles City (0-2). The Comets have been outscored 64-8 in two losses, but Howard says nothing will come easy.
"Charles City will play good defense and it's a long bus ride, so that's going to be a challenge," he said. "We certainly needed this one for confidence and we needed to get our feet under us a little bit."