ST. GEORGE — The Trailblazers only scored once in the first half, on a Keaton Mott 24-yard pass to Jalen Powell, and were down 21-7 at halftime.
Dixie State then scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the lead 28-21, and the Trailblazers never looked back. They would go on to win the game 42-32.
The Trailblazers took the lead after a blocked field goal by Tyler Heaton to start the fourth quarter. Mott handled the rest, eventually completing the drive with a 30-yard pass to Jalen Powell. Mesa scored a field goal on the next drive, but Sei-J Lauago ran the first play of the next Dixie drive for an 81-yard touchdown, which put the Trailblazers up by two possessions.
“It’s fun,” head coach Paul Peterson said of the second-half performance. “You’ve got to play all four quarters and I think that’s got to be the message for our team. I’m proud of them, they came back and did some really good stuff. That was a really good football team we played. Last week we couldn’t overcome it, so we’re taking the next step, we’re getting better.”
One thing that plagued the Trailblazers was penalties. At one point Mesa was going to attempt a field goal on fourth down. And not only did a Dixie player jump offsides to block the kick, but a player was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the celebration that ensued. Mesa would get a fresh set of downs, and score a touchdown.
Peterson was not happy with the number of penalties and mental mistakes his team made.
“It’s just frustrating,” Peterson said. “Personal fouls and these dumb penalties, we’ve got to be better. It’s just not smart. We’ve got some work to do, and we’ll just keep addressing it and trying to get it fixed.”
The bright light that shined for the Trailblazers throughout the game, but mostly in the second half, was Keaton Mott. DSU has been shuffling between three different quarterbacks this season, and it seems as if there had not been a game where one quarterback played a vast majority of the snaps. That changed against Colorado-Mesa.
Keaton Mott took a large amount of the snaps until he injured his ankle and had to leave the game. He went 17 for 28 with 248 yards and four touchdowns.
“It’s been a unique season for all of us,” Mott said. “Me, Kody (Wilstead), Tanner (Hammond), it’s been a whirlwind as far as that goes because you’re used to one guy all year and that hasn’t been the case. We’ve all just embraced our role and what we’re in, and when our time comes you’ve seen us all play really well this season. It’s fun man, we’re all really good friends in there so it’s been fun to do something like that.”
When Mott went down, Peterson went with Hammond instead of Wilstead and he pointed to how the players performed in practice throughout the week. He said the three-man quarterback rotation will continue through the rest of the season.
Mott has been dealing with a number of injuries this season, and he plans to hit the training room and the cold tub to make sure he is ready to go for the biggest game of the Trailblazers’ season. Mott is looking forward to possibly knocking one of the best teams in the country off next week against the Colorado School of Mines.
“That’s what you play college football for, so for us to go in their place and ruin some things for them, we’re looking forward to it.”
Colorado Mines is currently undefeated on the season, 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the RMAC. This will be a major test for the Trailblazers, but they have played well on the road the entire season. They are currently on a four-game win streak on the road and will travel to Golden, Colorado for their next contest.
“It’s the next team up, and this is the top dog in the conference so we’ve got to bring our top game,” Peterson said. “We’ve got to bring our smarts, they don’t make many mistakes, they execute at a high level so our guys got to be ready to match that and travel well.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. next Saturday against Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.
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