ST. GEORGE – Home sweet home. The Dixie State football team was able to get its first win of the season Saturday, overcoming a 10-point deficit very early in the game to defeat Black Hills State 38-16 in the friendly confines of Legend Solar Stadium.
The bleachers were full for the Trailblazers, but initially it looked like it would be a long night. After their opening drive stalled the Blazers lined up to punt. The snap and the punter failed to connect cleanly, however, and punter Corey Stens had to fall on the ball 26 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
On the Yellow Jackets first play from scrimmage, running back Phydell Paris rushed in from 23-yards out for the score. With 11:46 to play, it was already 7-0.
Then things went from bad to worse. On the ensuing kickoff, Dixie State coughed up the ball on a fumble after a return of 20 yards. Black Hills State took over at DSU’s 21-yard line. Three plays later, it was first-and-goal at the 10-yard line. Dixie State’s defense stiffened and the visitors had to settle for a 21-yard field goal.
From that moment till late in the game, Dixie State would not allow a score. The Yellow Jackets scored a late touchdown against the Trailblazer reserves.
“We had a good game plan coming in,” Dixie State defensive end Remington Kelly said. “There were several plays where we knew what they were going to do before they did it. Our coaches did a good job preparing us.”
Meanwhile, the DSU offense caught fire. The Blazers scored on their next three possessions. Their first score came with 6:40 on the clock in the first. Luaugo found a seam on the left side of the line and raced 29 yards for the score. That play was set up by an earlier run from Blake Barney. Barney rushed for 37 yards of the 70-yard drive.
“Blake Barney offers another dimension to our offense,” Dixie State head coach Shay McClure said. “He is hard to prepare for and he takes pressure off of Malik (Watson). “
After the Dixie D forced a punt, Blazer QB Watson drove the team 71 yards to take a 14-10 lead. The touchdown came on a hookup between Watson and receiver Orlando Wallace. On the first play of the second quarter, Watson hit Wallace across the middle from 20-yards out.
After a turnover on downs by the Yellow Jackets, Dixie State took over at the Black Hills 9-yard line. Barney came in and got his first touchdown on a quarterback keeper. With 12:41 remaining in the half, it was 21-10.
“Before tonight, I think we underutilized Blake (Barney),” Watson said. “It is hard to prepare for both of us and he gives us a different look when he comes in. Defenses will have trouble adjusting to him.”
The Blazers would score once more before halftime. It was again a hookup between Watson and Wallace. This one involved some more cuts from Wallace as he had 40 yards to go to get to the end zone. With 7:23 on the clock, it was 28-10.
That would be the score at halftime. The only score by either team in the third was a 31-yard field goal from Blazer kicker Anthony Reyes. That was set up by a 58-yard fumble return by DSU’s Trayvon Watson.
In the fourth quarter, the Blazers added to their lead with Barney’s second touchdown of the night. The Dixie High alum capped a 12-play, 85-yard drive with a run over the left side from 2-yards out. The lead was 38-10 with 11:41 left in the game.
At that point Dixie State, inserted several backup players. The Yellow Jackets got the final points on the board with a 5-yard run by Paris.
“Our defense played well tonight,” McClure said. “There are several miscues that no one is aware of other than the team and coaching staff. But tonight those did not hurt us and we need to clean those up. Remington Kelly was phenomenal, especially in the first half.”
Dixie State outgained the Yellow Jackets 422-324 yards. The turnover battle was tied as both teams forced three turnovers.
Individually for Dixie State, Watson completed 5 of 9 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Josiah Blandin had two receptions for 74 yards. Wallace had two receptions for 60 yards, both for touchdowns.
“Our offensive line played great tonight,” said Watson. “I was rarely under pressure and our running game had great blocks in front of them.”
Dixie State had three players over 70 yards. Barney led the team with 116 yards rushing. Behind him were Jeffrey Coprich (83 yards) and Lauago (73 yards). Barney also threw for 61 yards.
Defensively, Kelly led the team with nine tackles. He was followed by linebackers Mike Jones (8) and Watson (7).
Both teams move to 1-2 for the year, both overall and in the RMAC. Dixie State will play a non-conference game next Saturday against Central Washington from the GNAC. Game time next week will be 6 p.m. at Legend Solar Stadium.
Box score: DSU 38, BHSU 16
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