ST. GEORGE – What a difference five days make!
That is how long it took to reverse the blowout score in Dixie State’s favor. “I knew we had the talent and the right schemes,” said Red Storm head coach Scott Brumfield. “I knew there were going to be some growing pains and I had hoped that we would not have to suffer through a game like last week. But I also knew we could play at this level.”
The elated coach experienced the extreme low of last week’s 43-3 loss to Colorado-Mesa, then the ultra-high of Thursday night’s 49-20 blowout victory over Central Washington. It’s only the second win over the Wildcats since Dixie State joined Division II and the GNAC — a span of 15 games.
The big DSU win is startling in many ways. Central Washington came into this year returning 16 of 22 starters from a team that finished second in the conference last season. The Wildcats did suffer a blowout loss last week to the reigning national champions, Colorado State-Pueblo. But they had two 30-plus point victories against the Storm last year and were probably marking this game as an easy W.
“Our offensive line played great,” said Brumfield. “Our backs had plenty of room to operate.” Dixie set a school record in rushing yards for a game with 404.
The Red Storm scored on their first offensive possession with former Dixie High all-stater Blake Barney getting the start at quarterback.
“Coach (Blaine) Monkres told me Tuesday that I would be starting because Trevor (Rea) got hurt,” said Barney.
The freshman guided his team 62 yards in six plays. DeJon Coleman ran untouched for 16 yards to score the first touchdown of the game. With 9:56 left in the first, Dixie led for the first time this year 7-0.
The excitement was short-lived. On DSU’s next possession, the Storm were forced to punt from their 20-yard line. The long snap went straight to the punter, Christian Rodriguez, but he mishandled it and the ball came loose going into the end zone, where Wildcat defensive end James Adeyanju recovered the ball for a touchdown. CWU went for the two-point conversion, but were unable to complete the pass. At the 6:50 mark, Dixie State held a slim lead 7-6.
The Storm responded on their next possession. This time the offense went 63 yards in seven plays. Twenty-one yards came on a pass to Nate Johnson. Barney then ran for 21 yards to the Wildcat 9-yard line. On the next play, Barney dropped back to pass. With his receivers covered, Barney scrambled to the left for a 9-yard touchdown. With 3:35 on the clock in the first quarter, the score read 14-6, Red Storm.
Dixie State would score next early in the second quarter. Starting at the 24, the Storm drove 76 yards in six plays. On second-and-6 from the Wildcat 29-yard line, it seemed as if the Red Sea had parted and Coleman ran untouched to paydirt. Alex Giordani’s kick was good and the score was 21-6 with just over three minutes remaining in the first half.
The Wildcat offense finally got on the board with less than a minute remaining in the first half. Quarterback Jake Nelson threw to receiver Justin Peterson cutting across the middle for six points. CWU had closed the gap to 21-13 just before intermission.
Dixie State took the kickoff to start the second half. On second-and-25 from the Wildcat 27-yard line, Barney scrambled for 7 yards. After he was out of bounds, the Wildcat defender pushed him to the ground. The resultant penalty got the Storm a first down at the 10-yard line.
Coleman then ran off tackle to put the Red Storm out in front by two scores, 28-13 at the 8:58 mark of the third quarter.
The Wildcats moved the ball on their next possession. The DSU defense was pinned back on its 11-yard line. But when Nelson dropped back and rolled to his right, defensive end Brandon Sloss slammed into him and jarred the ball loose. Keanu Foki scooped up the ball, broke a tackle with a perfectly-executed stiff arm and ran 68 yards, escorted by several teammates for a defensive touchdown. With 5:30 left in the third, the score read 35-13, Dixie State.
The Storm offense would keep rolling., scoring at the 12:28 mark of the fourth quarter to go up 42-13, this time off a 25-yard run up the middle by running back Myles Burton.
A few minutes later, backup quarterback Tyson Blackner showed his speed, racing 37 yards to give the Storm a decisive lead with just under five minutes to play, 49-13.
“We took Blake (Barney) out when his helmet got knocked off,” said Brumfield. “He was not hurt, but we had a big lead and we did not want to take any chances keeping him in the game.”
The Wildcats would tack on another touchdown from fullback Arthur Burns against Dixie’s defensive reserves to bring the final score to 49-20.
Dixie State had two players exceed the century mark rushing. Coleman gained 127 yards on 14 carries with three carries resulting in touchdowns. Barney gained 109 yards on 15 carries. Orlando Wallace had 69 yards on 14 carries. Blackner had 54 yards on three carries. Nate Stephens gained 39 yards on five carries.
Defensively, Robert Metz and Colton Olson again led the team with nine and eight tackles respectively. As a team, the Storm had three sacks, seven tackles for loss and forced two fumbles.
“Our front seven played outstanding,” said Dixie State defensive coordinator Shay McClure. “They stopped the run, forcing their offense to pass the ball. That was our game plan. They made plays tonight.”
Dixie State moves to 1-1 on the year, while Central Washington drops to 0-2. The Red Storm travel to California next Saturday to take on Humboldt State. Their next home game will be their Homecoming against Azusa Pacific on Sept. 26.
Stats: DSU 49, CWU 20
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