The Dodge City Law played an almost flawless first half on the way to a 61-35 victory over the Omaha Beef in Sunday afternoon indoor football action at Ralston Arena.
The Law scored touchdowns on its first six possessions to record the franchise's first victory.
The Dodge City offense gained 299 total yards against a Beef defense that gave less than 190 yards a game last season; while the Law defense gave up 194 yards to dominate the Omaha offense in the win.
Law head coach Sean Ponder said the team made some mistakes and weren't as fired up after going into the lockerroom with a 47-13 halftime lead; but said it was still a good win on the road.
"Anytime you win, you're happy for the guys," Ponder said. "We played very well in the first half with all guns firing, but we have some things we saw in the second half that we have to fix. This was a team we could have scored 80 to 90 points against this team, but we really didn't play well in the second half.
"It was a good win for us considering that we were on the road. All-in-all, it was a good effort by the guys and it was a great win for Dodge City."
Quarterback Charles McCullum threw 11-of-22 for 162 yards and four touchdowns (three to Michael Young). The Law also ran the ball well with D.D. Holyfield rushing nine times for 68 yards and Dominique Carson gained 60 yards on nine carries; with both players scoring two rushing touchdowns.
"We just wanted to make sure on our execution and doing everything right," McCullum said. "It was just focusing on ourselves and not worry about Omaha.
"It was very important to get that kind of start. It was good to come out of the gates and get a good start on them. It was a good way to get a victory on them."
The Dodge City defense sacked Omaha quarterback Lee Chapple four times and also forced two interceptions. The Law also stopped the Beef less than five yards from the endzone twice in the contest.
"We wanted to define our identity to the whole league," said linebacker Walner Leandre, who led Dodge City in tackles with 16. "We came up before the game and talked about wanting to execute. We laid off a little bit and got lackidaiscal in the second half, but we picked it back up in the fourth (quarter)."
The Law opened the game with good field position on a 30-yard kickoff return by Carson plus a five-yard penalty that put the ball at the Omaha 18. Holyfield scored two plays later on a 14-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead just over a minute into play.
McCullum increased the lead to 14-0 with his first touchdown of the game on a 45-yard pass to Brandon Venson with 11:14 in the opening stanza. McCullum made the score 21-0 after connecting on an 11-yard touchdown pass with Young midway in the first half. The second score was set up after a blocked field goal attempt.
The Beef got on the board on its next drive when O.J. Simpson caught a 25-yard pass from Lee Chapple to cut the deficit to 15; but Young and McCullum hooked up again, this time from 10 yards for another first quarter touchdown to make the score 27-6 with 2:21 left in the stanza.
Beau Kilgow caught a five-yard pass from Chapple to cut the Beef deficit to 27-13 just before the end of the opening period.
Carson scored his first touchdown on a 23-yard run to open the scoring for the Law in the second quarter to make the score 34-13 less than a minute into the stanza.
The last two scores for Dodge City in the second quarter happened after intercepting Chapple.
An interception by Jarret Bilbrey resulted in a four-yard rushing score by Holyfield; and Mike Bragg intercepted and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to make the scored 47-13 going into halftime.
Omaha drove down to the Dodge City 1 going into the final minute of the second quarter, but the Dodge City defense held the Beef out of the endzone on its two tries.
The Law outgained Omaha 216-56 in total yardage and earned 11 first downs in the first half (140 in the first quarter). McCullum completing nine of his 15 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns; with Holyfield gained 46 and Carson 40 in rushing.
The Beef coughed the ball up to open the second half with Michael Grice recovering the fumble, but Dodge City couldn't convert the turnover into points.
Marcus Parker caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Chapple, then combined again on the two-point conversion to cut the Beef deficit to 47-21 with 4:34 left in the third quarter.
The Beef got two more points just over a minute later when McCullum was called for intentional grounding in the endzone before getting sacked. Omaha scored six more after the safety on a 12-yard run by Preston Brown to make the score 47-29.
McCullum made up for his mistake by hitting Young for a 32-yard touchdown to increase the Law lead back to 25 just before the end of the third period.
Parker and Chapple hooked up again to open the scoring in the final stanza with a three-yard touchdown pass; and the Beef had a huge chance to cut the deficit even further with less than four minutes left in the contest, but the Law defense stiffened again and forced Omaha to fumble the ball through the endzone for a touchback on fourth down at the Dodge City 3.
The Law closed out the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run by Carson.
Dodge City's first regular season home game will be Saturday night when they host the Oklahoma Defenders. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at United Wireless Arena.
LAW 61, BEEF 35
Dodge City 27 20 7 7 -- 61
Omaha 13 0 16 6 -- 35
DC -- Holyfield 14 run (Burkhard kick)
DC -- Vinson 45 pass from McCullum (Burkhard kick)
DC -- Young 11 pass from McCullum (Burkhard kick)
O -- Simpson 25 pass from Chapple (kick failed)
DC -- Young 10 pass from McCullum (kick failed)
O -- Kildow 5 pass from Chapple (Stewart kick)
DC -- Carson 23 run (Burkhard kick)
DC -- Holyfield 4 run (kick failed)
DC -- Bragg 35 interception return (Burkhard kick)
O -- Parker 10 pass from Chapple (Parker pass from Chapple)
O -- Safety, McCullum called for intentional grounding in endzone
O -- Brown 12 run (pass failed)
DC -- Young 32 pass from McCullum (Burkhard kick)
O -- Parker 3 pass from Chapple (run failed)
DC -- Carson 3 run (Burkhard kick)
Dodge City 1-0 61 35
Oklahoma 1-0 78 6
Salina 1-0 77 70
Wichita 1-0 62 10
Bloomington 0-0 0 0
Sioux City 0-1 70 77
Omaha 0-1 35 61
Kansas 0-1 6 78
Lincoln 0-1 10 62
Week One scores
Dodge City 61, Omaha 35
Salina 77, Sioux City 70 (OT)
Oklahoma 78, Kansas 6
Wichita 62, Lincoln 10
Week Two schedule
Friday, March 7
Bloomington at Salina, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, March 8
Oklahoma at Dodge City, 7:05 p.m.
Lincoln at Sioux City, 7:05 p.m.
Sunday, March 9
Kansas at Omaha, 3 p.m.