ST. GEORGE — Trailblazer stadium was packed, as fans were ready to cheer on Dixie State University during their home opener.
The Trailblazers stayed within reach of No. 9 Colorado State University-Pueblo through the first quarter, only down 3-0 going into the second.
That would not last long, as Pueblo’s offense exploded before the half, scoring 17 points, with two touchdowns and a field goal heading to the locker room with a 20-0 lead.
When the Thunderwolves scored a touchdown with 5:20 left in the game clock, they led 26-0, and Trailblazer fans began to make their way out of the stadium.
Dixie would break the seal, and score a touchdown on a 19-yard pass from Keaton Mott to Jalen Powell late in the third quarter, which would be the only DSU score of the game.
“It was cool man,” said Mott about the lone touchdown drive. “Me and Kody have been competing since I got here, and I enjoy competing with him. I love this team man, we got a dang good team. If we get some things taken care of, this could be a really special season.”
CSU-Pueblo would add a field goal at the start of the fourth quarter, and a touchdown about midway through the fourth, with the final score being 36-7 in favor of the visiting Thunderwolves.
The Trailblazers were led by Darren Jones, who had three kickoff returns with a total of 90 yards, and Keaton Mott, who completed 10 of his 21 passing attempts with 112 yards and one touchdown.
As for the battle between the two quarterbacks, Kody Wilstead and Mott, Coach Paul Peterson said he will continue to play the two of them into next weeks game.
“We’re still inconsistent, I still plan on playing both. I think maybe it’ll just be flipped now, but we’ll see how practice goes,” said Peterson. “I think Keaton missed some stuff, and I think Kody missed some stuff that we’ll watch some film and get better on. Just a little bit frustrated with both of them right now. I expect that battle to keep going.”
CSU-Pueblo showed why they are ranked No. 9 in Division II football, and Peterson said that their team is the standard.
“Those guys have established themselves in this conference, and if we were going to stay in the RMAC, that’s what we want to shoot for. Those guys are a really good football team.”
Pueblo did the most damage over the top, as backup quarterback Jordan Kitna, son of Dallas Cowboys quarterback coach and former NFL quarterback, Jon Kitna, led the Thunderwolves. Kitna threw for 261 yards, completing 9 of his 18 attempts, with a number of long plays.
“They made some big plays, and I tip my hat to them,” said Peterson. “I mean every single one of them they caught. Usually, if you’re 50/50 you’re feeling pretty good, but they were shooting 100% on all of those deep balls.”
Although they got beat on the long ball, the Trailblazer defense made some big stops in the red zone and had a couple of goal line stands that forced field goals.
“As far as the goal line stands, our guys were stout,” said Peterson. “We had a good little package they put in, forced some field goals, and had some stops down there, which was big. Just too many big plays, we got to get off the field.”
Pueblo’s solid defense up front did not allow much of a running game to develop, and that hurt the Trailblazers.
“We got to be better at running the ball, and that’s going to open up our pass game. Or if we’re going to pass the ball, then we got to use that to open up the run game.”
Overall, Peterson felt that his first game at the helm of the Trailblazer football program was a building block.
“I think we’ve got a lot of young guys playing, and this is their first real experience,” said Peterson. “I think it was fun. You wish you had a different outcome, but I was excited for this game to see where we’re at. I think we’ve got a ton of work that we got to do, but I think we’re close, we just got to clean it up a little bit.”
Dixie State travels to Durango, Colorado next week to take on Fort Lewis in their second game of conference play (RMAC), with kickoff scheduled for noon on Saturday.
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