The Dodge City Red Demons had the momentum on their side against the Hutchinson Salthawks late in the second quarter, trailing the state-ranked squad by only four just before halftime.
But a touchdown by the Salthawks just before intermission knocked the wind out of the Demons' sails and Hutchinson dominated the second half for a 49-17 victory Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
It wasn't a lack of effort nor a 48-minute delay due to lightning strikes that was the main culprit why the Demons (3-4, 0-1) lost their third straight game and their Class 6A-District 8 opener. It was not being able to stop the Hutchinson patented triple option running attack that slowed down the Dodge City defense.
The Salthawks (5-2, 1-0) ran the ball 79 times for 485 yards and six touchdowns. Wil Smith ran the ball 21 times for 104 yards and one touchdown, while Colby Turner scampered for 96 yards and three scores in the victory.
The Red Demons were able to move the ball at times in the first half, but they couldn't get any drives going in the second half. Dodge City had only 66 yards total offense after intermission.
Kelan Newton was 19-of-31 for 219 yards and a 69-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Doan, but he also threw two interceptions. Dakota Duckett and Taylor Murphy each had five catches in the game.
Each team had two scoring drives in the opening quarter.
The Salthawks moved the ball 71 yards on their opening drive, which concluded with a four-yard touchdown run by Smith.
Dodge City answered by getting deep into Salthawk territory before Dillon Burkhart kicked a 30-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3.
A six-yard touchdown run by Turner for Hutchison was answered by Newton's fake on a screen then downfield to a wide open Doan, who outran the Salthawks secondary for the score to make it 14-10.
Turner's second score came from 20 yards away to make the score 21-10 before play was stopped due to lightning in the area.
The Red Demons showed no ill effects from the delay as Parker Davis capped off a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a three-yard run into the endzone to again cut the deficit to four.
It looked as if the Demons were going to go into halftime behind only four points, but Hutchinson struck on a fourth down play when quarterback Trevor Turner found a wide-open Evan Gaines for a 39-yard touchdown pass and a 28-17 halftime margin.
Hutchinson scored 14 points on a one-yard score by Trevor Turner and a 12-yard run by Colby Turner. The Salthawks' last score was a one-yard run by Turner Wintz.
The Red Demons travel to Maize for another district contest against the Eagles. Maize lost at Garden City 31-26 in the other opening district game.