Wildcats score 24 2nd-half points to rally past Dixie State

ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Dixie State outgained Central Washington 479 to 341 yards, forced more turnovers, and scored on more big plays, only to see the Wildcats kick a 44-yard field goal to win the game at the end, 27-24.

A Sean McDonald boot with one second left in the game was the difference as the Wildcats came from 17-3 down at the half to get the win. Dixie State has never beaten Central Washington.

The Red Storm started the game playing well, forcing a fumble on CWU’s first possession. Linebacker Robert Metz’s hit on Wildcats running back Jordan Todd knocked the ball loose and was recovered by Dixie’s DeShawn Perkins at the Dixie State 28-yard line. Seven plays later, DSU kicker Dillon Bishoff split the uprights for a 22-yard field goal.

dsulogoAfter the Dixie defense stopped CWU on downs, both teams traded possession on turnovers. Dixie quarterback Griff Robles fumbled the ball while being sacked at the Dixie 29-yard line. Three plays later Dixie linebacker Jake Duncan recovered a fumble by tight end Tyler Stumph at the Dixie 1-yard line. The Red Storm converted that turnover into seven points, driving 99 yards in nine plays. Storm running back Myles Burton sprinted 53 yards for the touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff CWU returned the ball 53 yards to the Dixie 47-yard line. The Dixie defense held, but yielded a field goal to the Wildcats for a 10-3 edge.

On Dixie’s next possession, Robles led the team 76 yards in five plays, resulting in an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joe Don Duncan. Dixie would take the 17-3 lead into halftime.

On the Red Storm’s first possession of the second half, they moved the ball 62 yards, only to see Bishoff’s 18-yard field-goal attempt blocked by Wildcats defensive lineman James Fakkema.

That big play seemed to ignite Central Washington as the Wildcats pulled within seven with a Jordan Todd touchdown from four yards out with 3:12 to go in the third quarter. After a three and out by the Red Storm offense, the Wildcats were able to tie the score with a 13-yard run by quarterback Jake Nelson with 13:26 to play in the game.

On Dixie’s next possession, Robles again moved the offense quickly down the field, traveling 72 yards in five plays. He hooked up with wide receiver Mitch Frei from 23 yards out and after Bishoff’s PAT, the Red Storm enjoyed a 24-17 lead with 11:25 to play.

The teams would trade punts before CWU was able to even the score at 24-24 with a touchdown pass from Nelson to wide receiver Jesse Zalk with 2:23 to play.

Dixie could not get a first down on the ensuing possession and had to punt the ball away with 1:37 on the clock. It took CWU six plays to go 41 yards, 26 of them coming on a Nelson to Zalk completion. McDonald gave the Wildcats their only lead of the game with the final score of the game, a 44-yard field goal.

Robles threw for 362 yards on 23 of 43 passing, including two touchdowns. Joe Don Duncan and Mitch Frei each hauled in over 150 yards through the air.

Myles Burton rushed for 106 yards, his second game topping the century mark.

Jake Duncan recorded a career-high 16 tackles, moving into the top spot in Dixie State’s Division-II history with 229 stops.

The loss drops DSU to 2-4 overall and 2-3 in the GNAC on the season. The Red Storm will return to friendly environs next week when they will host Western Oregon University at Hansen Stadium. The Wildcats move to 4-2 (4-1), continuing their reign at the top of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. They will travel to Burnaby, British Columbia to take on Simon Fraser next week.

Boxscore via DSU Athletics

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