ALAMOSA, Colo.– Somebody better give a game ball to Dixie State placekicker Anthony Reyes.
The sophomore, who did double duty on Saturday with punter Cory Stens out with illness, kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired to lift the Trailblazers to a 24-21 victory over Adams State at the Grizzlies’ Rex Field.
Reyes handled the extra points and punts all day, but the most important kick came with one second remaining and the score tied. Dixie State had driven to the 4-yard line. Reyes had already kicked two through the uprights, but neither counted as Adams State head coach Timm Rosenbach had called his three timeouts just before the snaps to ice Reyes and negate the kicks.
With the timeouts expended and the intercom playing “Under Pressure” by Queen, Reyes lined up to kick one last time. The snap was perfect. The hold was perfect. The kick was perfect. On a game that had two individual records broken, Dixie State got the all-important win.
“Before we went out to kick, I talked to our snapper,” said Reyes. “I told him even if he hears the whistle to snap it when he is supposed to so that I could get some reps before the kick. We knew their coach was going to use his timeouts.”
When asked if the music distracted him, Reyes responded, “I did not even hear it. When I am about to kick I go deaf and focus on the ball.”
“The protection was there against a team that has several blocks this year,” said Dixie State head coach Shay McClure. “The holder and snapper executed and Reyes hit the big game winner.”
In the first half, Blazers took over the ball on their own 15 and drove the ball 50 yards before ASU cornerback Demari Reynolds anticipated the DSU pass to the flats, intercepted the ball and ran 63 yards in the other direction for the pick-six. With 10:13 remaining in the first, the Grizzlies were on top 7-0.
“The defensive back made a great play,” said McClure. “But we were moving the ball. You never want to turn the ball over, but we were far from panicked at that time.”
The turnover seemed to rattle the DSU offense as it was quickly off the field with the two next possessions. The defense reciprocated with Adams State, however, and the teams traded punts over the next four possessions.
Then Dixie State took over inside its own 1-yard line on the punt from Adams State. Thompson guided the team the length of the field in 12 plays, ending with a record-setting touchdown by DeJon Coleman. It is the 15th of Coleman’s career and put him in first place on the DSU career list. With the Reyes PAT, the score was knotted at 7-7 with 12:26 remaining in the half.
After another forced Grizzly punt by the DSU defense, the Blazers drove 79 yards with Coleman catching his second career record on a 17-yard run near the end of the drive to put him in first place on the DSU career rushing list.
On third-and-7 from the ASU 20, Thompson found wide receiver Aubrey Reed on a quick out pattern. Reed caught the ball, slammed on the breaks to prevent going out of bounds, broke a tackle, then skirted up the sideline for the remaining 5 yards to give Dixie State the go-ahead score. With five minutes to play in the half the score was 14-7.
Neither teams threatened again before going to the locker rooms for halftime. At halftime, the Blazers had a 276-114 yardage advantage, with 207 of those yards coming on the ground. Coleman and Clifford Simms had 95 and 71 yards, respectively, at the break. Orlando Wallace and Aubrey Reed both had three receptions.
The Dixie State offense had to punt the ball on its first possession of the second half. On the Grizzlies’ initial drive at their own 10-yard line, ASU drove the ball 85 yards to the Dixie State 5-yard line. On first-and-goal, the Grizzlies went to their wildcat formation and ran to the right. Jaylen Moore made a big hit on the ballcarrier to force the fumble. It was recovered by Mike Jones, who returned the ball to the 4-yard line.
The DSU offense could not take advantage though, as it was forced to punt six plays later from the 38. The Dixie State defense held again, but the starting position after the punt was again deep, from the DSU 6-yard line. The Grizzly defense continued to play tough in the second half to force the punt.
“Adams State switched defenses on us in the second half,” said McClure. “They were playing against our run in the first and opened up more to protect against the pass in the second half. We were somewhat puzzled but it did not change what we wanted to do – run the ball.”
Adams State started with good field position at their own 46-yard line and drove the remainder of the field, converting on a fourth down late in the drive, to tie the score on a catch by running back Addie Brown. With 13:23 to go, the DSU defense gave up their first scoring play that tied the game 14-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, DSU returner Sei-J Lauago got 56 yards to the Adams State 29-yard line. After an incomplete pass drew a targeting penalty, the Blazers got the remaining 14 yards on the ground with Simms getting his first touchdown to put DSU back up 21-14 with 11:22 remaining in the game.
The Grizzlies responded quickly and a controversial call aided in the score. It took the Grizzlies three plays to go 74 yards down to the DSU 3-yard line. On first-and-goal, a pass from Hernandez to Zach Bagby appeared to be caught. Bagby was hit by the DSU defender and the ball came out, hitting the pylon before going out of bounds.
Instead of the touchback, the two officials collaborated and called the play an incomplete pass. On the next play, Hernandez connected with Darvin McCauley for the touchdown with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Grizzlies had scored the tying touchdown for the second time in the quarter.
The teams then traded punts before DSU took over on its 14-yard line. On DSU’s punt, Khalid Davis made a great play, racing down the punt before it could go into the end zone and pinning the Grizzlies back to their 3-yard line.
“Probably one of the plays of the game,” said McClure. “ASU had momentum and were moving the ball. Pinning them deep got us the ball back.”
After an initial first down however, the DSU drive stalled. Two penalties negated first down plays and Dixie State was forced to punt with 1:33 remaining. The Dixie State D held and the offense would get the ball at their 30-yard line with 36 seconds remaining.
Seventy yards from the end zone, most teams would pass to preserve time on the clock. But the Blazers got all of their yards on draw plays, most coming on a 54-yard run by Coleman.
“The coach called a great play,” said Coleman. “Their defense was playing pass and I knew if I could get to the second level that I could make guys miss. The O-line opened up a big hole and then it was just get as far downfield as quick as I could.”
A holding penalty on the next play negated good yardage and used up valuable time. It also pushed a field goal attempt to 39 yards where Dixie State had limited success earlier this year. The call once again went to Coleman who gained 18 yards to the Grizzly 4-yard line with only one second on the clock.
“If the hole was not there, I was just going to go down,” said Coleman. “But the middle opened up and I was determined to get to the end zone. I got close, but someone got my leg from behind so I went down instead of trying to fight for more yards. I looked up and saw one second and was relieved.”
Dixie State used its second timeout to set up the chip shot field goal, leading to the tense final moments.
The Blazers outgained ASU 482-415 yards for the game. They also dominated time of possession 36:32-23:28.
Individually, Coleman’s record-setting day ended with 206 yards on 23 carries. Simms also exceeded the century mark with 105 yards on 17 carries. Thompson completed 10 of 15 passes for 94 yards. Wallace and Reed caught four passes each for 43 and 35 yards, respectively.
Defensively, Jaylen Moore led the team with nine tackles. Linebacker Marika Lesuma followed with eight tackles. Dane Griffin and Benson Laumatia both recorded sacks.
In relief of Stens, one of the better punters in the conference, Reyes averaged over 44 yards on eight punts.
“I did not find out that I would be punting till Friday,” said Reyes. “I was pretty nervous because I have never punted before. The first punt was weird but after the second one I got into a rhythm and felt good.”
With the win, Dixie State moves to 5-4 overall and 5-3 in the RMAC. Adams State falls to 1-7, both overall and in conference. The Blazers will travel to Colorado State-Pueblo next week for their final road game before returning home to play Fort Lewis on Nov. 12.
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