DURANT — The first two wins of the season taught Central Lee’s football team how to control a game.
The latest victory was about how to win a close one.
The 17-10 victory over Durant on Friday night has the Hawks (3-0) off to their best start since 2015 heading into the beginning of Class 2A district play next week.
Central Lee’s defense forced three turnovers and shut out the Wildcats (0-3) in the second half.
“Our defense stepped up and did some nice things,” Central Lee coach Doug Dodds said. “We had been talking, (saying) just do our jobs.”
The Hawks opened the season with a 35-8 win at Van Buren, then had a 55-0 home win over Cardinal last week. This one was the challenge Dodds expected.
“When the schedule came out, I knew Van Buren was going to be a test,” he said. “And Cardinal would give us a good look. But we knew Week 3 Durant was going to be a tough team. They play some tough teams. We knew coming up here they weren’t going to be a slouch. It’s a good way to get ready for districts.”
Durant outgained Central Lee 287-205, but the Hawks’ defense never let the Wildcats get into a rhythm.
Durant’s lone touchdown came on a 76-yard pass from Charlie Huesmann to Caden Meyer in the first quarter. The Wildcats got a 24-yard field goal from Isaac Nielsen in the second quarter. But they would never threaten again.
“They had one good drive where they got a field goal,” Dodds said. “They got one big play. Other than that, our defense played great.”
Cory Jones, who had two interceptions and nearly came up with a third, said the Hawks had to be consistent on defense.
“They’re a good team with a big running back and a bigger line than we’re used to,” he said. “And they had all of their skill players. We had to get our zones down.”
Huesmann threw for 145 yards, but missed on eight of his last nine passes. One was knocked down by Jones, another was batted away by Chase Johnson on fourth down with less than three minutes to play.
“Their QB thinks he’s a ‘Madden’ player. He thinks he can throw it while running,” Jones said. “He just throws it over (the receivers). We knew we couldn’t let them get behind us. We needed to know that we had to bear down on the passes, not get beat deep.”
Central Lee opened the scoring on Kayden Calfee’s 1-yard touchdown run with four minutes left in the first quarter. Durant tied it on Huesmann’s pass to Meyer, then Central Lee answered with a long scoring drive capped by Colton Taft’s 27-yard field goal.
After Nielsen’s kick tied the game at 10, Johnson’s 3-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left in the first half provided what would ultimately be the final margin.
Calfee rushed for 85 yards. Grant Myhre had 56 rushing yards on just four carries — he had a 40-yarder in the second quarter that helped set up Taft’s field goal.
Central Lee opens district play at home against Davis County next Friday.