PUEBLO, Colo. – It was a battle of wills when Dixie State visited Colorado State-Pueblo Saturday afternoon in RMAC play.
Both teams knew that the other side would try to run the ball. Both teams lined up, played smash ball and limited the other side in what they could do. Unfortunately for the Trailblazers, they came out on the short end of a hard-fought 24-13 score.
Dixie State got on the board first. Starting at the 20-yard line, quarterback Josh Thompson drove the team 49 yards in 10 plays before stalling and settling for an Anthony Reyes 38-yard field goal in the first quarter.
On CSUP’s ensuing possession, the offense got good starting field position at the Blazers’ 39-yard line. It took the Thunderwolves six plays to find the end zone on a 15-yard pass from Rex Dausin to Zach Boyd.
Dixie State cut the CSUP lead to 7-6 with 7:07 remaining in the half on another Reyes field goal, this one from 40 yards out.
CSU-Pueblo scored twice more before the half ended. The first came after a long drive of 75 yards. Running back Austin Micci scored the touchdown on a 28-yard run. On Dixie State’s next possession, the Thunderwolves defense forced a fumble and Emery Taylor scooped up the ball and ran untouched to the end zone and the 21-6 lead going into the locker room.
“The fumble hurt us,” said Dixie State head coach Shay McClure. “By itself, we are probably fine with our defense, but they were able to score without our defense on the field.”
In the second half, the Dixie defense kept the Thunderwolves out of the end zone. CSU-Pueblo would get a field goal late in the game, but the Blazers could not put up the necessary points to overcome the first-half deficit.
The Blazers did get an early score in the third quarter. With their second possession, they drove the ball 80 yards in 11 plays. Thompson found big tight end Taj Broomfield from 12 yards out to pull DSU within 21-13.
The Thunderwolves scored a field goal on their last possession to give them the two-score lead. Dixie State drove the field and attempted a Reyes field goal with 20 seconds left that was blocked and ended DSU’s hopes.
Dixie State actually outgained the Thunderwolves 313-268. The difference of the game came on turnovers where CSUP won the battle 2-1, with the fumble leading directly to the score. The Blazer defense held CSU-Pueblo to 135 yards below its average.
“This was a game where their strengths directly collided with our strengths,” said McClure. “Our defense, particularly our defensive line, had a great day. We had big third-down stops. (Defensive linemen) Remington Kelly and Dane Griffin both had sacks that stalled drives.
“In the end there are no moral victories in college football. This could have been a signature win for us our first year in the conference. Our guys know this is one we could have gotten, but we will improve and eventually play at the level we need to consistently.”
Individually for Dixie State, Thompson completed 17 of 22 passes for 186 yards. DeJon Coleman led the team with 71 yards on 19 carries. Coleman also caught six passes out of the backfield for 53 yards. DeJuan Dantzler led the receiving corps with three catches for 60 yards.
Defensively, Noe Perez led the team with 12 tackles. Mike Jones and Shiloh Pritchard followed with nine and eight, respectively. Jones also had an interception while Griffin and Kelly both had sacks for the second consecutive game.
Dixie State falls to 5-5 overall and 5-4 in the RMAC. The Blazers will end their season at home next week against Fort Lewis College. Game time Saturday is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Stats (via DSU Athletics): CSUP 24, DSU 13
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