Oneida defender Drew Crabtree slams Wartburg quarterback Tyler Davis to the ground for one of the Indians’ seven sacks against the Bulldogs on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. (Sarah Dunlap/IH)

WARTBURG — Oneida’s defense continued to impress on a rainy night in Morgan County Friday, as the Indians overpowered the homestanding Bulldogs, 44-0.

With an on-and-off rain falling in Wartburg as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey impacted the region, Oneida limited the Bulldogs to just 80 yards of offense and earned its second shutout of the season.

When Oneida began substituting younger players liberally in the second half, its defense had given up a total of -2 yards and just one first down. The Indians finished the night with seven sacks, while another quarterback pressure resulted in an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety.

“Our guys were working hard up front, getting the pressure we needed,” Oneida head coach Tony Lambert said. “I felt like we did a good job getting pressure with a four-man rush. We haven’t run a lot of blitz packages. We just try to be sound at what we do.”

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Oneida was indeed sound, hurrying Wartburg quarterbacks Jeremiah Davis and Tyler Davis on virtually all of their 21 pass attempts.

While the Indians’ defense may have been stonewalling Wartburg, the Bulldogs were not exactly giving up a lot of ground to Oneida in the first half. The Indians put two scores on the board but left a couple of other scoring opportunities on the field until the intentional grounding call late in the first half. That resulted in a short field after the free kick, which allowed Oneida to score another touchdown late in the half.

“Defensively, I thought we played well. Offensively, we sputtered around at first,” Lambert said. “We were pretty inconsistent in the offensive line and I didn’t think our backs, outside of Bryson Buttram, ran it like they normally do.”

Still, Oneida appeared reenergized on the offensive side of the ball as the second half began, quickly putting two scores on the board to start a running clock before younger players took over the game.

“In the second half, boy, I’m going to tell you, they came out and answered and played like the football team I think we’re capable of having,” Lambert said.

Oneida rushed for 346 yards, with 48 running plays split between eight different players. Colby Boyatt led the way with 88 yards and two touchdowns on two carries, while Evan Roberts had 79 yards on 12 carries. Buttram finished with 69 yards on 13 carries.

Sophomore quarterback Elijah West continues to mold himself to his new role, completing four of six passes for 67 yards and his first career touchdown pass, a 34-yard lob to Aaron Bowling in the third quarter.

Toby Hacker scored Oneida’s only first quarter touchdown from five yards out, while Matt Hood later broke free for a 28-yard run to put the Indians ahead 14-0 early in the second quarter.

The safety was a pivotal play in the game. With Wartburg hoping to get to the halftime intermission trailing by just 14 points, the intentional grounding penalty gave Oneida two points and forced Wartburg to kick the ball to the Indians from its 20-yard-line. That gave Oneida a short field for another touchdown, which Buttram scored on a seven-yard run to give the Indians a 23-0 halftime lead.

Boyatt scored twice in the second half, with a 28-yard run coming on the Indians’ first offensive play of the third quarter. After the West-to-Bowling touchdown, Boyatt scored again in the fourth quarter, breaking free for a 60-yard gallop — his longest of the season.

Despite the win, Lambert said his team still has work to do.

“It’s frustrating because we haven’t played four quarters of football yet, like I think we’re capable of playing,” he said. “If we don’t get that, it’s going to bite us.”

While the Indians will step outside the region to host Harriman for homecoming activities this week, Lambert knows a loaded back half of the schedule is looming.

“It’s coming,” he said. “It’s one week at a time and we have to get better.”

Despite sloppy field conditions caused by rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, neither team turned the ball over during Friday’s game. [/s2If]