ST. GEORGE – The Dixie Flyer defense is gelling at the right time as playoffs approach.
Meeting Snow Canyon on the Warriors’ home turf, Dixie had to win to stay ahead of the Warriors in the standings. Dixie’s starting defense not only held Snow Canyon out of the end zone, but did not allow the Warriors out of their own territory in the first half. The Warriors did score twice, first on a special teams fake punt and again late in the game against Dixie’s backups, falling 44-14.
Dixie jumped out early 14-0 on two Jaden Harrison 1-yard sweeps. The first came on the opening drive. The second came less than three minutes later. That touchdown was set up earlier in the drive by a 44-yard run by Tre Miller. Miller led all players with 97 yards rushing.
“We knew we were facing a good defensive team,” said Dixie offensive center and team captain Jackson Davis. “We put special emphasis on our double teams and getting our second-level blocks on linebackers. Our coaches have so many options if we can get Tre (Miller) seven or eight yards on first down as opposed to one or two.”
On the Warriors next possession, Dixie again held them. On fourth and 8 from the Warriors 45, Snow Canyon lined up to punt. The snap went to up-man Jackson Nowatzke, who is also the backup quarterback. Nowatzke found tight end Chance Thorkelson on a crossing route. Thorkelson eluded a tackle and raced up the Warriors sideline for a touchdown, getting Snow Canyon on the board before the end of the first quarter.
It did not take long for Dixie to respond. Less than two minutes of game clock had expired before Miller scored on a 35-yard burst through the middle. Dixie led 21-7 at the 1:30 mark of the first quarter.
The Flyers added two more scores in the second period. Miller got his second touchdown of the night, taking a screen pass from Ammon Takau and getting great blocks from his offensive line to go 22 yards to the end zone. Just before halftime, Takau threw his second touchdown pass, finding wide receiver Bret Barben in the end zone from 21 yards out. The PAT failed, but Dixie led 34-7 with 2:22 to go to halftime.
The Warriors were called for personal fouls on both the touchdown and the PAT. Dixie elected to take both penalties on the kickoff.
On the kick, Dixie kicked off from the Warriors’ 30-yard line. Everyone in attendance anticipated the ensuing onside kick that was recovered by the Flyers at Snow Canyon’s 18-yard line. Dixie was able to add a McLane Keenan 35-yard field goal to go into halftime with a 37-7 advantage.
Snow Canyon moved the ball better in the second half. On the Warriors’ first possession, they had a first and goal at the Dixie 4-yard line. But the Dixie defense and a personal foul penalty pushed the Warriors back. On fourth and goal from the 20-yard line, Warrior quarterback Jake Frei was run out of bounds by Dixie safety R.J. Wilgar at the 6-yard line.
On the Flyers’ ensuing possession, Monkres called his “Indy” series plays, rushing the offensive lineman without huddling to the line and running Miller in quick succession. The Warriors were forced to call timeout to stop the steamrolling. Takau then picked apart the secondary to get to the Warrior 20-yard line. Two penalties pushed the Flyers back to the 50-yard line where they faced a second and 40. Miller took a screen pass from Takau and then swung left, outracing Warrior defenders for the 50-yard score. The Flyers led 44-7 with 3:31 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors were knocking again on the next possession. After a good kickoff return, Frei had directed Snow Canyon to the Dixie 24-yard line before he was picked by Dixie cornerback Mason Oki in the end zone.
The final score would come in the fourth quarter when Warrior running back Josh Barnes scored on a 4-yard run. The play was set up with an 88-yard pass from Frei to wide receiver T.J. Taimi.
Takau had 221 yards passing. Harrison led the Flyers with 84 yards receiving. For Snow Canyon, Frei passed for 196 yards. Taimi led the Warriors with 160 yards receiving. Barnes had 42 yards rushing.
Dixie, 6-4 and 4-2 in region, will host Uintah in the first round of the playoffs.
“We knew this game would decide whether we would have to travel or not next week,” said Dixie senior offensive lineman Blake Patterson. “We wanted to give our fans and student body another home game.”
Snow Canyon finishes fifth in the region and will travel to Bear River next week.
“Region 9 has been extremely competitive this year,” said Monkres. “I will be surprised if the region does not sweep all four games next week.”
Stats: Dixie 44, Snow Canyon 14
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