ST. GEORGE – The Dixie Rebels advanced to the championship game of the Rocky Mountain Football League with a convincing win over the Wasatch Revolution Friday night, 28-3 at Walt Brooks Stadium.
While the score ended lopsided, the game was still in doubt until defensive back David Bishoff gathered in his second interception of the game and ran it back 104 yards for the final touchdown, nailing the coffin shut on the visiting team.
“I am definitely not the quickest guy on the field, but I had an entourage of about eight blockers that ran with me down the field,” Bishoff said.
The game started slowly as neither offense was able to put points on the board.
“We have the number one offense, statistically, in the league,” Rebels quarterback Chad Draper said. “But we have had trouble finishing all year.”
The Rebels game plan was obvious at the start. Draper lined up every play with a naked backfield. Leading Dixie rusher Sione Tapousi did not get a carry until the start of the second quarter.
“They have the best middle linebacker (Levine Tupe) on the best defense in the league.” Draper said. “We knew we had to spread them out or they would crowd the box with nine on every play.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rebels struck early in the second. When Tapousi finally did get the ball, it paid dividends quickly as his first two carries netted 22 yards and the first touchdown of the game at the 10:45 mark.
“My game is smash-mouth,” Tapousi said. “My offensive line gets me to the second level where I can gain speed going at someone much smaller. When my line gets me to the next level, I am tough to bring down.”
A few series later, the Revolution got on the scoreboard with a field goal by Golden Whetman. The drive was aided by untimely encroachment and horse-collar penalties, but the Rebels defense refused to break and Wasatch had to settle for three points with 3:06 left in the first half.
The Rebels answered quickly on the next drive, culminating with a touchdown pass from Draper to Tanner Wood with 38 seconds left in the half to go up 14-3.
The third quarter was much like the first as both defenses were able to either hold the opposing offense on downs or cause turnovers. Trey Smith and Brandon Thompson both intercepted Revolution quarterback Charlie Peterson. While Revolution defensive back Gary Dansby intercepted Draper, shutting down the Rebel drive at the Revolution one-yard line. On the final drive of the quarter, the Revolution went 60 yards to the Rebels 11-yard line. But Revolution kicker Whetman’s field goal, which would have shortened the lead to one possession, went wide left.
After a quick four-downs-and-out from the Rebels, the game was halted for approximately 30 minutes when Revolution receiver Joe Mapson was flipped while going high attempting to catch a Peterson pass. Mapson was finally able to walk to the sideline and play continued. Two plays later, Bishoff tagged his first interception.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Bishoff said. “Our linebacker makes a great play tipping the ball right to me. If he does not make that play, they score a touchdown.”
The Rebels put their third touchdown on the board with 4:05 to play on an 11-yard scurry from Chase Loveridge. That seemed to put the game out of reach, but the Revolution came out on the next series playing determinedly. Dansby put the Revolution in good field position returning the ball 25 yards to the Revolution 40-yard line. After a couple of incompletions, Peterson scampered for 13 yards for another first down. Two passes to Trevor Jensen netted another 17 yards and a first down.
On the ensuing first down, defensive end Brady Delobel sacked Peterson for a 7-yard loss. Following that, DeAngelo Branch, the Revolution’s leading rusher was tackled for a 10-yard loss by defensive end Miguel Rivera. It looked like the Revolution, forced to play hurry up, were on the ropes. But Peterson once again pulled a first down out of his hat by throwing two passes for 42 yards to receivers Cody Wimmer and TJ Stokes. That set up the final interception by Bishoff four yards deep in the end zone.
“Last week we had a pick-six that went for 100 yards,” said Rebels coach Andy Stokes. “So David eclipsed that tonight. Our defense won the game for us today. Peterson is a good quarterback, but we had him moving all game and forcing him into mistakes. This was definitely a defensive-dominated game and our defense stepped up to the plate and outplayed a very good offensive team.”
While Bishoff’s late game heroics drew loud cheers, the crowd also erupted upon hearing that the No. 1-seed Utah Shock, who had gone 7-1 this season, had been upset earlier in the evening by the 2-6 Utah Stealth. That means the Rebels are the highest seed remaining and get the reward of hosting the championship game next week against the Stealth.
Passing: Dixie: Draper 9-18-136-1-1; Wasatch: Peterson 19-27-239-0-4
Rushing: Dixie: Loveridge 11-30-1, Tapousi 10-44-1, Alldredge 1-13, Smith 1-(-1), Aboussou 1-(-3) Wasatch: Branche 14-62, Tahi 6-29-0-1, Hunkin 3-21, Peterson 2-13-0-1, Fackrell 2-3
Receiving: Dixie: Wood 6-51-1, Adams 1-37, Alldredge 1-36, Robledo 1-12 Wasatch: Mapson 5-132, Jensen 6-51, Wimmer 2-21, Holbrook 2-7, Branche 2-2, Stokes 1-19, Lang 1-7,
Dixie 0 14 0 14 – 28
Wasatch 0 3 0 0 – 3
10:45-Dixie – Tapousi, 7-yard run (PAT-Dillon Bishoff)
03:06-Wasatch, 19 YD FG-Whetman
00:38-Dixie, Wood 9-yd Pass from Draper (PAT-Bishoff)
04:05-Dixie, Loveridge 11-yard run (PAT-Bishoff)
00:54-Dixie, Bishoff 104 INT ret (PAT-Bishoff)
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