HOWARD — The East Knox Bulldogs got three second-half touchdowns from Caleb Gallwitz on Friday to open their Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference season at home with a 40-9 victory over the Highland Scots. Gallwitz, who finished the game with 211 yards on 23 carries, ran for four touchdowns in the game.

Geoff Cowles/News Highland quarterback Kadin Johnson (7) attempts to run after picking up a fumbled snap, but East Knox defenders Gage Steinmetz (24) and Braden Kannady (2) bring him down for a loss. The Bulldogs pinned a 40-9 loss on the visiting Scots.

“Our guys stuck it out,” Gallwitz said. “Our linemen worked hard from the first quarter until they pulled them out in the fourth quarter. They give it 100 percent effort all the time.”

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Geoff Cowles/News East Knox receiver Weston Melick (10) scores a first-quarter touchdown on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Kadden Lester. The Bulldogs rolled to a 40-9 victory over Highland.

The Bulldogs put a pair of first-quarter scores on the board, including a rushing touchdown from Gallwitz and an 18-yard pass from East Knox quarterback Kadden Lester (8-of-13, 156 yards, 2 TDs) to teammate Weston Melick.

“It all started with our line,” Melick said. “They worked on staying low and out-physicalling them, and that carried us through the game.”

In the meantime, the Highland defense held Gallwitz to 36 rushing yards in the first half. Offensively, the Scots pounded the middle of the Bulldogs’ front line with big-bodied running back Jack Weaver, who had 48 yards on 16 carries in the first half.

The Scots got on the board early in the second quarter with a Riley Kemmer 23-yard field goal.

“We had some guys who stepped up tonight,” said Highland head football coach Matt Jones. “(East Knox) has some experienced kids, and we’re still learning the game right now.”

East Knox came right back with Lester hitting receiver Braden Kannady with passes of 28 and 25 yards. The latter was good for a touchdown and put the Bulldogs on top, 20-3.

“The run wasn’t working very well (in the first half),” Kannady said. “I got open and I caught two passes in a row. We executed as a team all week in pass plays, so you have to be ready for anything. I just want to credit everyone on our team.”

Highland quarterback Kaden Johnson found teammate Landyn Albanese on a 34-yard pass late in the first half, setting up a 4-yard TD run by Weaver.

“(Highland) had a good game plan coming in,” said East Knox head football coach Cody Reese.

“They were aggressive and did a good job and, as a result, our guys didn’t execute as good as we should have.”

The Bulldogs’ defense shut out the Scots through the entire second half and the offense put the ball in the endzone twice in the third quarter on Gallwitz runs of 10 and 35 yards. That put the Bulldogs comfortably on top, 34-9.

On the ensuing series, Bulldogs’ linebacker Ian Toller picked up a third-quarter sack, dropping Johnson for a big loss and forcing the Scots to punt from deep in their territory. The Bulldogs, who got the ball on their own 43, worked their way into Highland territory, where Gallwitz broke a 37-yard touchdown run — his longest of the day.

The Scots were foiled again when a Johnson was picked off late in the fourth quarter by East Knox linebacker Shane Knepp to ice the win.

“Once our boys settled in, in the second half, we were able to execute,” Reese said. “(Highland) has outscored us, 78-14, in the last two years. We had to do something about it. If you have any competitiveness in you at all. We wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth like they’ve done to us sometimes.”

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Geoff Cowles: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @