4A football playoffs: Dixie, Ridgeline punch tickets to championship game

ST. GEORGE — One Region 10 team is still standing after the 4A state football semifinals ended Friday night.

After a fast start and behind solid defense, Dixie beat crosstown rival Pine View 42-20 and will play Ridgeline for the 4A state title on Nov. 12.

The Flyers got a lucky break to score on their first play of the game, exploded for 21 points in the first quarter, then held on to beat the Panthers for the second time this season.

Meanwhile, at Millville, No. 2 seed Ridgeline remained undefeated and punched its ticket to the state title game after withstanding a furious challenge by Crimson Cliffs to win the other semifinal.

Dixie 42, Pine View 20

The Flyers grabbed all the momentum they would need in the first quarter. Treven Alldredge returned the opening kickoff to Dixie’s 32-yard line.

Quarterback Bronson Barben lined up in shotgun formation behind the center. The snap was botched, however, and rolled backwards on the turf.

Running back Seth Takau picked up the football, stepped through the line, and ran for a 68-yard score on the first play of the game.

Pine View at Dixie, 4A state football semifinals, St. George, Utah, Nov. 5, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

“It was lucky. Center was all excited, said he couldn’t hear the quarterback, it was so loud,” Dixie coach Blaine Monkres said, adding that the center didn’t know when to snap it, saw everybody move and just rolled it backwards.

“Heads up play by Seth just to pick it up and run it right up the middle,” Monkres said. “That’s where it was going to go anyway, it just wasn’t the way it was designed.”

After that first crazy play, both teams had two possessions each and traded punts. Then Dixie’s Truemann Alo recovered a fumble and set up the Flyers offense on its own 31-yard line.

Barben needed exactly one play to find Shea Anderson for a 69-yard touchdown pass that upped Dixie’s lead to 14-0.

“Felt good out there,” Anderson said. “Just had to beat them with speed. That’s about it.”

Dixie took advantage of another turnover on Pine View’s next possession, this time an interception by Mamao Tofi that set up the offense on the Panthers 17-yard line.

Anderson ran for a 9-yard gain, then Takau finished with an 8-yard touchdown run and the home team was ahead quickly 21-0.

But Pine View was resilient and answered in the second quarter. Tyler Brown connected with Dominique McKenzie, who returned from injury for the game, on a 52-yard touchdown pass that put the Panthers on the board 21-7.

Dixie promptly fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and four plays later Brown threw an 11-yard touchdown to Tyson Moten and the Panthers trailed by just one touchdown, 21-14.

Pine View at Dixie, 4A state football semifinals, St. George, Utah, Nov. 5, 2021 | Photo by Jacqui Knighton, St. George News

The Flyers, however, came right back down the field on two Barben passes to Mason Kesterson, the first for 66 yards and the second for 14.

Takau completed the drive with an 8-yard scoring burst to put the Flyers ahead 28-14.

Austin Kogan’s 47-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter sent Pine View into intermission trailing 28-17.

Dixie stopped Pine View to open the third quarter, then turned the ball over on downs after getting to the Panthers 1-yard line.

On the next play, Gage Dempsey stepped in front of Brown’s pass for another Dixie interception.

Jeffrey Christian followed that with a 4-yard touchdown run into the house for a 35-17 Dixie lead.

With a big lead, it was up to Dixie’s defense just to make stops and not give up any big plays.

“Three and out every time, that was our goal,” linebacker Bode Ray said. “Shut down the run, shut down the pass. Turned out good, only 20 on the board, so can’t ask for any better.” 

Pine View put together a 10-play drive on its next possession, but sacks from Dixie’s Alldredge and Cole Stewart forced another Kogan field goal, this one from 46 yards, that trimmed Dixie’s lead to 35-20.

But the Flyers answered again on their next drive.

Anderson scampered for 35 yards, Christian had back-to-back runs for 19 and 5 yards, and Anderson capped off the drive with an 11-yard TD run to make it 42-20 and complete the scoring in the contest at the 1:44 mark of the third quarter.

“I love my seniors, man, we’ve been looking forward to this since we were elementary kids in the second grade, we’ve all been playing together,” Ray said. “We’ve always wanted to go to state as high school kids, it seemed so cool.”

Dixie improved to 9-3 overall and will face 12-0 Ridgeline in the 4A state championship game, scheduled for next Friday at 11 a.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Ridgeline 49, Crimson Cliffs 34

At Ridgeline High in Millville, the Riverhawks took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, thanks to two sustained scoring drives, each capped off with a TD pass from Kaden Cox to Stratford Simmons.

In between those scores, Crimson Cliffs got on the board on its first possession, which ended with a 15-yard TD pass from Gunner Orr to Kona Crowell.

Crimson Cliffs at Ridgeline, 4A state football semifinals, Millville, Utah, Nov. 5, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Rick Parker for Cache Valley Daily, St. George News

On the first play of the second quarter, Easton Droubay punched the ball into the end zone for a 1-yard rushing TD for Crimson Cliffs. The extra-point kick was no good, leaving the Mustangs behind 14-13.

Later in the second quarter, Ridgeline’s Noah White scored on a 23-yard run. The Riverhawks converted the 2-point attempt and took a 22-13 lead with 4:28 left in the second quarter.

That ignited a scoring flurry, as each team scored two more TDs before halftime, with Ridgeline taking a 35-27 lead at the break.

Things slowed down a bit in the third quarter, with the only score being on an 11-yard run by White with 1:21 left, putting Ridgeline ahead 42-27.

Crimson’s Droubay made a 5-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter to pull the Mustangs to within eight points, 42-34.

Shortly thereafter, however, White caught a short pass in the middle of the field and scampered into the end zone for what proved to be the final points in a 49-34 victory for the Riverhawks.

Ridgeline racked up 497 yards of total offense to Crimson’s 331. White personally accounted for 296 of Ridgeline’s yards, rushing for 231 yards and gaining another 65 yards receiving. He scored three touchdowns.

For Crimson Cliffs, Droubay led the way with 165 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

The Mustangs’ vaunted defense, which had come into the game allowing just 13 points per contest, gave up seven touchdowns to the high-flying Riverhawks.

“Ridgeline is very talented on offense and we weren’t able to get the stops that we usually do,” Crimson Cliffs head coach Jaron Tate told St. George News.

Nevertheless, Tate said he was proud that the Mustangs scored five touchdowns themselves.

“I’m so impressed with our offense tonight,” he said. “We extended drives and were able to get in the end zone when we had opportunities.”

“We are excited to continue to build on the last three seasons and continue to grow as a program,” Tate added.

The Mustangs ended their season with an 8-5 overall record.

— written by Jeff Richards

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