WATERLOO — It would either be the team with the most points or the team that could keep playing longer.
Angola and DeKalb opened the football season in hot, steamy conditions and staged an exhausting back-and-forth battle that lasted more than three hours.
In the end, the Hornet ground game made the difference, as senior Finley Hasselman rushed for 230 yards on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns, helping Angola prevail 42-28.
DeKalb did most of its damage through the air, with sophomore Tegan Irk completing 20-of-41 passes for 254 yards and three scores.
Even with 499 yards of offense — Angola quarterback Tyler Call hit 8-of-14 passes for 168 yards and two TDs — the Hornets needed a while to break the young Barons.
After a 21-21 tie at the half, DeKalb had the Hornets pinned third and 9 on their own 12, but Call hit Michael Burelison in stride at midfield on an 88-yard scoring play which gave the Hornets the lead for good.
DeKalb managed to get back into Angola territory but gave up the ball on downs. Hasselman broke loose for a 69-yard touchdown run on the first play. Brandon Villafuerte, who was 6-for-6 on PATs, made it 35-21.
Still the Barons fought back, and got a short field when Nate Williams blocked a punt at the Hornet 29. Four plays later, Irk hit Donnie Wiley for a 10-yard score, and DeKalb was within seven.
After that, tired defenses got the better of tired offenses. DeKalb managed to slow the Hornets enough to get the ball back several times, but Angola turned the Barons away each time. Zackary Buell batted away a sure third-down completion, and a pass into Hornet territory was wiped out on a holding call.
The Hornets finally got the clincher on a high snap by the Barons, which Wyatt Maggart pounced on at the DeKalb 10. Hasselman crashed in from the 3 on third down with 3:05 left.
Just as Angola capitalized on DeKalb’s lone turnover, the Barons did the same in the first half when Williams made a recovery at Angola’s 43. The Barons took six plays to score the game’s first points on an 8-yard screen pass from Irk to Caiden Hinkle.
The Hornets answered with an 80-yard, nine-play drive, capped by Call’s 34-yard scoring pass to Connor Tonkel.
Hasselman put Angola up with a 65-yard scoring run, but the Barons answered on Irk’s 35-yard scoring pass to Mitch Snyder, and it was 14-14.
Hasselman bolted up the middle on a 15-yard scoring run with 47 seconds to go in the half, but Williams took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, making it a push at halftime, 21-21.