BURNABY, B.C. — Dixie State quarterback Griff Robles only completed 16 passes Saturday night, well below his norm. But he threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns, all of them to his two favorite receivers, Mitch Frei and Joe Don Duncan, to help DSU win a hotly-contested rematch with Simon Fraser University, 42-35 in Canada.
Robles and the Red Storm offense scored a pair of touchdowns in the game’s final five minutes after the Clan had tied the game at 28-28, to secure the lead. Simon Fraser pulled to within 42-35 with just over a minute left on a 16-yard TD pass from Ryan Stanford to Kyle Kawamoto. The Clan recovered the ensuing onside kick and had it at the Dixie 48 with 1:12 left. However, on their first play from scrimmage, Stanford was intercepted by Zac Christian. Dixie ran out the clock to secure the victory.
The game started badly for the Red Storm when Robles was sacked and fumbled the ball on their first possession, giving the Clan the ball at Dixie’s 23-yard line. The Dixie defense stepped up and, with the help of Clan penalties, Simon Fraser lost 17 yards on the drive, forcing a punt.
Robles would not falter again, taking the Red Storm 93 yards on 12 plays and finding Frei in the end zone from 10 yards out to put the Storm up 7-0.
The Red Storm defense forced a fumble on the Clan’s next possession, which was recovered by Jake Miller. Robles took advantage of the short field at Simon Fraser’s 24-yard line, finding Frei for his second touchdown from three yards out for a 14-0 lead.
The Clan would get on the scoreboard on their next possession after driving the ball 57 yards. Running back Chris Tolbert would plunge into the end zone on a fourth-and-one to cut Dixie’s lead to 14-7 with 9:43 to go in the first half.
Dixie State would respond quickly as Robles completed only two passes for the next score. The first was a 53-yarder to Frei. The second was a 22-yard strike to Duncan for his first touchdown of the game. After Dillon Bishoff’s PAT, Dixie led again by two scores at 21-7 with 8:22 left in the half.
The Clan would run the clock almost out on their next possession, going 66 yards on the drive. Tolbert scored his second touchdown from two yards out and Simon Fraser went into halftime only down 21-14.
Coming out of the tunnel, Dixie would punt on its first two possessions, while the Clan would miss consecutive field goals on their first two possessions.
Robles would finally begin the scoring in the second half with a quick drive and a 49-yard pass for Frei’s third touchdown. The TD play was preceded by a 30-yard strike to Duncan. The score put Dixie up 28-14 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Stanford, who had 232 passing yards in the game, drove Simon Fraser 61 yards on the next possession, scoring on a pass to Kawamato from five yards out. The score again pulled Simon Fraser to within a touchdown at 28-21 with 11:30 left in the game.
SFU’s defense would hold Dixie State on its next drive and the game suddenly got very interesting as sophomore punt returner Earl Anderson sliced through the DSU punt coverage for a 70-yard touchdown to knot the game at 28.
The Red Storm responded on their next drive by going 81 yards in eight plays, culminating with Duncan’s second touchdown from 16 yards out. That made it 35-28 with 5:12 left in the game.
The Dixie defense held the Clan to minus-three yards on their next possession and on fourth-and-13 with three and a half minutes to play, SFU lined up to punt the ball. But the long snap sailed over punter Nikolai Karpun’s head. Though Karpun recovered at the Clan 3-yard line, the ball went over on downs to Dixie State. Two plays later, DSU running back Joel Davis scored the Red Storm’s only rushing touchdown of the day on a 4-yard run. The score gave Dixie some breathing room, ahead by two scores at 42-28 with 2:36 to play.
On the ensuing possession, Simon Fraser took only 1:23 to go 58 yards as Stanford again found Kawamoto in the end zone from 19 yards out. The score once again pulled the Clan to within seven, 42-35, but Christian’s interception just seconds after the onside kick sealed the win.
Defensively, the Red Storm were led by Nick Largent and Jake Duncan, who had 10 and 9 tackles, respectively. The defense also had interceptions by Christian and Daniel Moffett.
Frei, a Snow Canyon graduate and Santa Clara native, has been on a tear lately and finished the evening with 184 yards and three touchdowns on eight receptions. The senior WR has scored a touchdown in each of his last four games and accumulated 502 yards and seven scores in that stretch.
Duncan, a preseason All-American selection with NFL potential, had six receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns and now has exactly 1,000 receiving yards and 12 TDs on the year.
Robles, also a senior, led the team in rushing with 75 yards on 11 carries to go with his big passing day. His five TDs and no interceptions improve his season TD/INT ration to 5-to-1 (25 TDs, 5 picks). Robles, a native of Spanish Fork, now has 2,725 passing yards and 651 rushing yards on the year.
The victory lifts Dixie to 4-5 overall, 4-4 in the GNAC. The Red Storm travel to Glendora, Calif., next week to take on the 7-2 Azusa Pacific Cougars. APU beat Dixie State 36-20 back in mid-September.
The loss drops SFU to 2-6 overall and in the GNAC. Simon Fraser will host Humboldt State next week.
Boxscore via DSU Athletics: DSU 42, SFU 35
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