CALLISBURG — The Howe Bulldogs kicked off their season against the Callisburg Wildcats with big hopes but they fell behind early and were unable to keep pace in a 48-8 loss in non-district action.


Howe had a rocky start defensively in the first quarter during a six-minute stretch when Callisburg (0-1) opened up a 21-0 lead.


The first touchdown was a 54-yard run from Tyler Howe, a lineman who was able to get outside on left side thanks to some misdirection and reach the end zone.


Jake Pollard capped off the next Wildcat drive with a five-yard keeper, one play after he connected with Greyson Thurman on a 44-yard pass.


Moments later Howe jumped on a bad snap for Callisburg at the Bulldogs 22-yard line and on the first snap from scrimmage Cobey Montgomery took a screen pass for a touchdown with 3:44 remaining in the quarter.


The Bulldogs were able to get on the scoreboard thanks to a safety with 4:21 left in the first half. Callisburg was pinned deep and a dropped snap in the end zone on a punt provided a little bit of momentum. But Howe was unable to do anything with the ensuing possession and Callisburg managed to score one more touchdown before half-time.


Brendon Kirk finished off an 80-yard drive which needed just three plays for the Wildcats to hold a 28-2 advantage with 2:22 showing until the break.


Callisburg continued to pad its lead with a 37-yard touchdown run by Joseph Cerna early in the third quarter.


Howe followed with its lone touchdown of the contest when Austin Haley found Jalen Thornton near midfield and the senior made his way to the end zone for the 70-yard TD pass with just over eight minutes remaining in the frame.


But outside of that the Bulldogs struggled to get anything going. Howe finished with just 46 yards on 24 carries and Haley was 4-of-11 passing for 110 yards.


"We are a very young team with several first-year starters that was their first game under the lights," Howe head coach Bill Jehling said. "Moving forward we need to improve and hopefully the speed of the game will become quicker for our kids."


Callisburg went up 41-8 in the final minutes of the third quarter on a 33-yard option run by Carl Moore. The Wildcats closed out the scoring on a short touchdown plunge from Cerna only seconds into the fourth.


Carson Daniels and Matt Hayes led Howe with 28 rushing yards and Kolby Taylor chipped in a pair of receptions for 30 yards.


Callisburg's balanced rushing attack piled up 407 yards on 44 carries. Pollard led the way with nine carries for 68 yards while Caden Flanagan added four carries for 65 yards, Cerna chipped in seven carries for 63 yards, Moore totaled five carries for 62 yards, Montgomery finished with eight carries for 60 yards and Howe's lone carry covered 54 yards on his TD run.


The Bulldogs with look to bounce back on the road against the Bells Panthers on Friday while Callisburg will host S&S.