ST. GEORGE — Everyone in the stadium knew Terrell Watson was going to run the football, but knowing about it and stopping it are two different issues altogether.
Watson rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns as Azusa Pacific ran past Dixie State 36-20 Saturday night at Hansen Stadium.
It was the conference opener for the Red Storm, who fell to 0-2 overall APU is 1-1.
The visiting Cougars jumped out to a quick six-point lead on Watson’s 54-yard touchdown run on the game’s opening drive. The attempted two-point conversion was stopped short of the end zone, but the Cougars would grab a lead they would never relinquish. Watson finished the night with an average of 9.7 yards per carry. He had a 10-yard TD near the end of the third quarter, then took the rest of the night off.
“We knew that No. 33 (Watson) was their guy,” said linebacker Jake Duncan. “When you are facing someone that big and that quick, you have to wrap up, or he will get some big plays.”
The game was delayed early in the second quarter for two hours, 13 minutes due to lightning strikes within 10 miles of Hansen Stadium. The delay began at 6:39 p.m. Play resumed at 8:52 p.m. The game was delayed with 14:34 remaining in the second quarter and the Cougars leading 6-0.
After the break, APU quarterback Nick Owens scrambled for a 9-yard touchdown, making it 13-0. Dixie State promptly answered with a five-play, 81-yard scoring drive culminating with a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Griff Robles to running back Joel Davis on a screen play. That score made it 13-7 with 10:56 to go until halftime.
The score would remain that way until late in the half, when Owens came up with with back-to-back touchdown passes of 23 and 17 yards to Tanner Henry and Mike Martens. The Henry TD came with 1:22 on the clock. After the kickoff, DSU’s Robles was intercepted by Cougars defensive back David Smith. Two plays later, Martens scored to push the lead to 26-7 with just 15 seconds left int he half.
“We struggled in the first half,” said Red Storm All-American tight end Joe Don Duncan. “I think our preparation was good. We saw exactly what our coaches said we would see, but we failed in our execution.”
Coming out of the halftime break, the Red Storm offense failed to capitalize on several drives, many terminating with three downs and a punt. The Cougars added a Watson touchdown and a 52-yard field goal from kicker Jamie Cacciatore to push the lead to 36-7 with 13:03 let in the game.
Red Storm coach Scott Brumfeld inserted backup quarterback Brody Garr on Dixie’s opening drive of the fourth quarter. Garr promptly led the Red Storm 77 yards on 11 plays and a touchdown to Joe Don Duncan from 24 yards out. Dixie’s final touchdown was a 17-yard pass from Garr to Antonio Morton with 23 seconds left in the game.
Robles finished the night 17 of 30 for 212 yards passing with one interception and one touchdown. Garr completed 13 of 19 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
“Brody (Garr) was able to come in and get some momentum going,” said Joe Don Duncan. “Sometimes that is all it takes. Griff (Robles) did not play poorly, but there were breakdowns while he was in there. One or two people would not execute and that would stall the drive.”
Linebacker Jake Duncan led the defense with 14 tackles, with two tackles for loss. Joe Don Duncan and Myles Burton led Dixie State with five catches each, while Mitch Frei had four receptions for 70 yards. But Dixie State struggled with the rushing game. APU out-rushed the Red Storm 251-13. DSU’s leading rusher was Robles, who had 22 yards on 11 carries. Running backs Burton and Davis netted just 14 yards on eight carries.
Dixie State’s next two games will be on the road, beginning next week against Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore.
Game notes: At halftime, a ceremony was held for the 2013 Dixie State Athletics Hall of Fame inductees (Dave Rose, Linda Huddleston, Ken Jolley, 1963 undefeated football team) … In another ceremony, DSU Athletic Director Jason Boothe announced that the playing surface at Hansen Stadium will be now be called “Sark Arslanian Field” in honor of the legendary coach.
Boxscore/stats: APU 36, DSU 20
Related post: Photo Gallery, Azusa Pacific at Dixie State
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