Dixie State football wins last regular-season game, still possibility of a postseason game

ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State Trailblazers took down the visiting Grizzlies from Adams State, 35-10, on their senior day.

The Dixie State secondary did a great job defending the passing game, only allowing 90 yards in the air. Overall the Trailblazers only gave up 215 yards to Adams state, their second-best defensive performance in terms of yards allowed on the year.

Tanner Hammond started the game at quarterback with Keaton Mott injured and the Trailblazers had some trouble. That changed when Kody Wilstead was inserted into the game. The redshirt sophomore had not played many snaps since the game against Chadron State, but he made the most of his snaps on Saturday.

On his first play of the game, he threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Chase Hess and he kept the offense rolling from there. Wilstead finished the game 18-29 with no interceptions and 341 passing yards for five touchdowns. Tight end Chase Hess caught three of those touchdown passes while senior Dejuan Dantzler added one of his own and a team-leading 108 receiving yards.

The Trailblazers have been quick to interchange quarterbacks throughout the year, having Hammond, Mott and Wilstead fighting for snaps. Peterson said that it came down to who played best in the games, but that all three of them came prepared to every game.

Wilstead was thankful to be given another chance, and he was happy to end the regular season on a high note. He also mentioned that the quarterback rotation was challenging at times.

Dixie State football beats Adams State on senior day, 35-10, St. George, Utah, Nov. 16, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

“Obviously yeah, It’s hard,” Wilstead said of finding a rhythm. “It was good, I felt like whoever came in normally did really well and so the next guy up was always prepared. As a competitor you never want to get pulled, so that was hard, but it worked out. We did well with it.”

With this win on senior day, the Trailblazers end their season 8-3 overall, which marks the best season in their Division II era. This was a transition year as the entire athletic department prepares to make a big jump to the Division I ranks, with the football team becoming an independent team in the FCS. The excitement is building around the team, and with many of the players returning next season, the team is already looking forward to the step up in competition.

“We’re just excited,” Wilstead said. “It’s big-time now. We had a great season and looking ahead it’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be worth it and we can do it.”

Peterson and Wilstead were both quick to point out the weight room. With the step up in competition comes stronger opponents and more skilled teams. Peterson was also complimentary of how their seniors helped out in this transition season.

Dixie State football beats Adams State on senior day, 35-10, St. George, Utah, Nov. 16, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

“I think our guys are going to buy into that and I think they’re excited for this new transition,” Peterson said. “I wanted to make sure the senior knew that they helped propel us into this new DI era and it’s pretty awesome. I tip my hat to them, they’re really good kids and they bought into what we were trying to do.”

Now the Trailblazers will have to wait until the end of Saturday’s to find out if they will be playing another game. If some teams with the same record lose, they could make the Division II football playoffs. If not, they could also be selected for a bowl game. Wilstead is hoping for another game.

“There’s a possibility of a bowl game, and Sunday we’ll know whats going on,” Peterson said.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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