ST. GEORGE – A wise coach once said, “Stats are for suckers.” Most Dixie fans would agree that the old coach was onto something.
The Flyers went to Pine View and allowed the Panthers more than 500 yards of offense. Oh yeah, and they also beat Pine View 21-17 Friday night to open their region play with a key road victory.
“That’s our bend, but don’t break philosophy,” Dixie defensive coordinator Wayne Alofipo said. “They moved the ball a lot, but we made the plays when we really needed them.”
The Flyers made the ultimate stand late in the game, protecting the slim 21-17 lead. Pine View drove to the Dixie 13 with 50 seconds left, but an illegal block penalty pushed the Panthers back to the 35-yard line, essentially a 22-yard penalty as the 15-yarder was assessed from the spot, seven yards behind the line of scrimmage.
A pass from Kody Wilstead to Colton Miller of 16 yards made it second and 16 at the 19. A sack and an incompletion left it at fourth and 19 at the Dixie 22 with under 30 seconds to play.
Once again, Dixie brought pressure on Wilstead and the junior QB short-armed a pass near the end zone to an open Miller. The incompletion sparked a Dixie celebration that would reach its climax after Ammon Takau kneeled out the final few seconds.
“Wilstead’s a great quarterback,” Alofipo said. “We knew we couldn’t let him sit back there or he would pick us apart.”
Dixie picked him off three times in the game, including twice inside the Dixie 20-yard line. Time and again, Wilstead and the Panthers drove the length of the field only to come up short. In the first half alone, Pine View went on drives of 80, 94, 41 and 46 yards. The result: a 14-7 halftime deficit.
The 94-yard drive started with PV ahead 7-0 and was impressive until the final play for the Panthers. On fourth down and a yard at Dixie’s 9-yard line, Wilstead rolled away from pressure and fired a pass in the middle of the field that was picked off by Dixie’s Braxton Ipson at the 2-yard line.
“That was a big play, a key play,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “It’s good to have Braxton back. He’s a big part of our defense.”
The Flyers responded by going 98 yards the other way with Joseph Takau capping the drive with a 2-yard burst for the tying score with 9:22 left in the first half.
Again, Pine View drove a fair distance, this time 41 yards. But after an intentional grounding penalty, PV had to punt and the Takau brothers led Dixie to the go-ahead score with 6:27 left in the half when Joseph darted in from three yards out. The Flyers would not trail again.
The second half started in similar fashion with Pine View turning the ball over on the first possession. Dixie needed just 56 seconds and three plays to push it in from the 15-yard line. Joseph Takau scored his third TD of the game to make it 21-7 with 8:50 to play in the third quarter. Dixie would not score again.
The Panthers, who had two offensive starters go out with injuries in the game (WR Jack Bangerter and RB Tristan Duran), began to mount a comeback behind the Wilstead-to-Colton Miller combination. Miller made a spectacular catch for a 30-yard TD to cut it to 21-14 with 6:57 to go in the third.
A 32-yard Ethan Baer field goal cut it to 21-17 with 11:07 to play, but the Panthers, who averaged 44 points a game coming into the contest, had just two more possessions. The first ended with a punt and the second was the aforementioned final stand for Dixie.
“I’m excited for the kids,” Monkres said. “There’s still a long way to go, but this was a good win to get. We’re excited about our start.”
The Flyers were out-gained 521-309 in total offense, but constantly made yardage on punt exchanges. Dixie punter Gavin Graff averaged 48 yards per punt and the Panthers had no significant returns.
The Takaus had decent games, with Ammon passing for 229 yards and Joseph rushing for three TDs.
Bangerter, Utah’s top receiver statistically going into the game, scored the first TD of the night with a 46-yard catch. But moments later, the senior WR injured his ankle and left the field on a cart. He returned in the third quarter with one of his ankles heavily wrapped. He caught two more passes for 15 yards the rest of the way.
Duran, who normally starts at running back and on defense for Pine View, missed most of the game with a shoulder injury. Miller stepped up to fill the void left by Bangerter, catching eight passes for 173 yards. Pano Tiatia, who just returned from boxing for the USA Junior Olympic team in the Ukraine, played RB and had 88 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards for Pine View.
The Flyers improve their record to 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the 3AA South Region. Konner Aitken led Dixie with 83 receiving yards. Taylor Strehlow and Tanner Webster each had interceptions for the Flyers, who host Hurricane next Friday.
Pine View, 3-2 and 1-1, plays at home vs. undefeated Desert Hills next week.
Related link: STGNews Week 5 photo gallery
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