Dixie State football historically routs Fort Lewis to close spring season

Dixie State football's Deven Osborne hauls in a touchdown pass from Kody Wilstead against Fort Lewis, Greater Zion Stadium, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State Trailblazers football team closed the unique spring season and the school’s first as a member of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision on a high note, routing former Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foe Fort Lewis, 60-0, on a record-laden night.

Dixie State football vs. Fort Lewis, Greater Zion Stadium, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

The win brought the Trailblazers to 2-3 on its first Division I campaign, with a highlight to reflect on as it takes just a few short months off before the fall season begins in September.

“It was fun seeing that we can put a full game together and seeing that if we get firing on all cylinders, it shouldn’t matter who’s in front of us,” safety Darrius Nash said. “It was good to see everybody out there making plays.”

The Trailblazers roster dealt the Skyhawks the fifth straight loss in head-to-head competition, but never before had the Dixie State roster been assembled to compete at the next level. Meanwhile, Fort Lewis remains in Division II.

Dixie State got ahead early, but some chinks in the armor appeared.

The Skyhawks received the opening drive and immediately got a first down thanks to a Dixie State pass interference. But the momentum quickly shifted to the Trailblazers as linebacker Sam Kanongata’a forced a fumble that safety Darrius Nash just missed returning to the end zone, hitting the front pylon after being pushed out of bounds at the three. It was the first of five turnovers forced by the ‘Blazers defense.

However, the Skyhawks stuffed a pair of runs and Kody Wilstead threw an incomplete pass and the Trailblazers had to settle for a field goal.

Kody Wilstead, Dixie State football vs. Fort Lewis, Greater Zion Stadium, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

It would be the last shred of success Fort Lewis experienced in the game. They went three-and-out on the next drive, then did the same on the one after that. The next drive went four plays, but the Skyhawks lost a total of 19 yards before fumbling. Following that, their next three drives went three-and-out as well.

Meanwhile, Dixie State started pouring it on.

The Trailblazers scored 23 points in the first quarter. The Skyhawks totaled -11 yards of total offense in that time. Wilstead already had one of his five touchdown passes on the day. He would have had two, but wide receiver Deven Osborne let a deep ball on a post route down the right side bounce out of his hands on the slight underthrow. Running back Quali Conley instantly made up for it with a 39-yard sprint to the end zone on the very next play.

Dixie State football vs. Fort Lewis, Greater Zion Stadium, St. George, Utah, March 27, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

As the game progressed, it evolved from a bad beating into one of historic proportions.

The Trailblazers set a plethora of program records: Most points. Largest margin of victory. Tied for most touchdown passes by an individual. James Baird’s 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter tied a school record and his four completed also tied a school mark.

Dixie State overmatched in size, speed and execution. The score was 44-0 at the half before second-stringers started to make their way into the game. They made it clear they were no longer a Division II team.

“The big thing is, we’re on the rise,” Dixie State head coach Paul Peterson said. “That just proved it tonight that we deserve to be in the FCS.”

Wilstead went 17-for-23 in the air for 282 total yards, five touchdowns and an astronomical 248.6 QB rating. Koby Tracy went 5-for-9 in the second half, throwing for 32 yards and redshirt freshman Kaleb Hatch completed his first pass as a Trailblazer, even if it went for a two-yard loss.

Osborne received the ball seven times for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Chase Hess, Conley and David Fisher all caught TD passes as well. Seven Trailblazers received more than 10 yards. Conley rushed for 77 yards and Nick Floyd picked up 47 on the ground.

On the defensive side, it was the program’s first shutout since 2013. The team forced six fumbles and recovered four of them. Dylan Hendrickson came down with an interception as well.

It concludes a five-game season and gives the Trailblazers their first home win as a Division I program.

But it leaves only 161 days until the team hosts Sacramento State to kick off the fall campaign.

“It makes me think, ‘Man, we need to go in and kill this summer,'” Hendrickson said. “Because we could do some great things in the fall. We play some really awesome teams in the fall. We’ve shown that we have the talent. It’s just getting people in the weight room. I think it shows everyone what we need to work on to tackle the offseason.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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