WEBSTER CITY – Any way you slice it, no matter how rose-tinted your glasses may be, there’s simply no way to sugarcoat this one.

Shaky early, shaky late and not much better in between, the Webster City football team took several steps backward, and in front of a large homecoming crowd no less, Friday night at Lynx Field.

Coming off back-to-back quality performances in a 14-point loss to fourth-ranked (Class 3A) Carroll and a 56-point blistering of Algona, Webster City made too many mental mistakes and uncharacteristically put the ball on the turf all too often in a 17-14 loss to 3A District 2 rival Greene County.

At 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the district, WCHS is off to its worst start since 2007 – head coach Bob Howard’s first year at the helm. Maybe more importantly, the Lynx six-year run of playoff appearances appears to be in jeopardy.

In other words, it’s gut check time.

“This is a loss. We lost this one. There’s a difference between getting beat and losing,” Howard said after a lengthy post-game meeting with his players. “I don’t have a lot of answers for this one and there isn’t any magic. At some point you have to start making plays.”

WCHS owned the statistical advantage; the Lynx out-rushed Greene County (2-3, 2-0) 210-163, put up 300 yards of offense to the Rams’ 238, made seven more first downs (16-9), and possessed the ball for 25:58 – 3:56 longer than the visitors.

But the only number that really mattered was five – as in the number of times WCHS turned the ball over, compared to just one wobble for the Rams.

Greene County capitalized on the first of three interceptions by scoring a first-quarter touchdown, and eventually built a 17-0 second-half lead before the Lynx rallied over the final 15 minutes.

It was too little, too late, however.

“We made too many mistakes and we didn’t execute our base plays,” Howard said. “It was just a poor performance from one end to the other offensively.”

Junior tailback Gavin Dinsdale rumbled for 132 tough yards on the ground on 28 carries, and he scored both of the Lynx touchdowns. He dove into the end zone from 3 yards out after WCHS marched into scoring position on a 46-yard bomb from Avery Fuhs to twin brother Alec Fuhs late in the third quarter.

A quick 3-and-out by Greene County on the ensuing possession only added to the Lynx momentum and they trimmed the Rams’ lead to three points with 11:37 left in regulation on a 12-yard sprint around the left end by Dinsdale.

WCHS got three more cracks at it, but never seriously threatened the end zone. A holding penalty stunted a drive midway through the fourth, and Greene County cornerback Jordan Challen made a diving interception on an Avery Fuhs’ ball thrown over the middle inside the Rams’ 30 with just over 2 minutes left.

The Lynx got the ball back at their own 17 with 26.5 ticks left, but went backwards as time expired.

The penalty and several bad exchanges didn’t sit well with Howard.

“You can’t have penalties in the middle of the drive like the second to the last one, you can’t drop snaps and you can’t have bad snaps,” he said.

Avery Fuhs completed 5 of 10 passes for 90 yards; Alec Fuhs was on the receiving end of four of those completions covering 79 yards.

WCHS found itself in second- and third-and-long quite often against a Rams’ defense that flooded the box and kept Dinsdale from bouncing to the outside. His longest run of 17 yards came early in the game.

“That was the game plan,” Greene County head coach Dean Lansman said. “We knew we had to force (Dinsdale) into the heart of our defense. We kind of rolled our corners up a little bit to force that and we just hoped we didn’t get beat with the big pass.”

The Rams scored 10 quick points in the first quarter on a Nick Schroeder 31-yard field goal and an 11-yard touchdown pass from Daric Whipple to Jake Carey. Carey set up the score with an interception and return to the Lynx 11-yard line.

Greene County had just 49 yards of offense in the first half.

It remained 10-0 until midway through the third period when J.C. Weitl pushed his way in from the 3. It was set up by an 84-yard breakaway run by Dylan Hamilton on a simple sweep play on third-and-five. WCHS appeared to have Hamilton bottled up near the line of scrimmage, but one cut back to the inside set him free.

“There were five guys there and nobody made a play,” Howard said.

Hamilton finished with 120 yards on 12 totes. Whipple completed 10 of 19 passes for 75 yards and the one score. He was intercepted in the first half by Alec Fuhs.

The WCHS defense sacked Whipple five times and registered seven tackles for loss. Linebacker Rylee Lawson made a team-high 11 1/2 tackles; Lawson, Dinsdale, Hunter Bryan, Victor Jergens and Collin Oswald all got in on the sack party.

The Lynx will take a break from district play this week to host Iowa Falls-Alden (1-4).

The Cadets lost to Aplington-Parkersburg, 43-39, on Friday.