3AA Football: Flyers into title game as turnovers doom Pine View

RJ Wilgar celebrates the Flyers victory over the Panthers, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Six weeks ago, the Dixie Flyers were two games below .500 and featured a defense that was giving up more than 300 rushing yards a game. Now Dixie is one win away from a state championship.

dixie-smPine-view-smThe Flyers forced four turnovers and won their seventh consecutive game in beating St. George rival Pine View 38-28 Thursday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“It was a huge win tonight,” Dixie defender RJ Wilgar said. “I didn’t get to play Pine View the first time. I was hurt. So it’s amazing to be playing in the state championship next week. What more could you ask for?”

Flyer defender RJ Wilgar celebrates his late game interception, his second of the game, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Flyer defender RJ Wilgar celebrates his late game interception, his second of the game, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Wilgar intercepted two passes in the game, one in the first half that prevented a Pine View score and one in the fourth quarter that set up a clinching field goal, as Dixie’s defense held the high-scoring Panthers to just seven points in the second half.

“RJ Wilgar is one of our biggest pieces to the puzzle,” Dixie defensive coordinator Wayne Alofipo said. “He didn’t play with us the first time against Pine View because of an injury and it was tough. It’s great that he was able to get healed up and back to this game. He is the leader there in the back end and without him, things just don’t seem right.”

Another turnover set up the go-ahead score in the third quarter. With the game tied at 28-28, Dixie was forced to punt near midfield. In snowy and slick conditions, the Pine View return man mishandled the fair catch at his own 8-yard line. Dixie recovered and scored on the next play on a sweep by quarterback Ammon Takau. That made it 35-28 with 5:33 to go in the third.

Pano Tiatia comes up just short of the goal line on fourth down, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Pano Tiatia comes up just short of the goal line on fourth down, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Pine View marched the length of the field on the next possession and actually rushed in the tying score on fourth-and-goal from the 2. But the whistle blew just as the play began as Dixie had jumped offside. The second attempt, from the 1, wasn’t as successful as Jeff Martinez hit PV running back Pano Tiatia just as he received a handoff. Tiatia ended up just inches short of the goal line.

“That was a big stop for us to have it on the one-foot line,” Flyers head coach Blaine Monkres said. “We said, ‘Hey we can do a better job on defense than we did in the first half.’ We wanted to come out and turn the intensity up a notch and play every play 100 percent. I think it was more that than any schemes or adjustments we made.”

Pine View got the ball back, but turned the ball over to Dixie when Panther QB Kody Wilstead was hit as he threw and Martinez made a spectacular catch along the sideline and with 8:55 left in the game, Dixie had the ball at its own 28-yard line.

Pine View’s defense forced a stop, but the Panthers turned the ball over once again when Wilgar stepped in front of a Wilstead pass and returned the pick to the PV 12-yard line.

Three plays netted 3 yards for the Flyers, but the turnover set Dixie up with a crucial field goal attempt. McLane Keenan booted the 26-yarder to make it a 10-point game with 3:22 left.

“We have been practicing real hard this week and we have been taking into consideration that Pine View is a good team and we couldn’t come out soft,” Martinez said. “We knew that we would need to play 100 percent every play for 100 percent of the game. That’s all there was to it tonight.”

With no snow and no wind in the first half, the offenses took center stage. Dixie led 7-0 on a 41-yard pass from Takau to Bret Barben. Pine View answered with consecutive scores to take a 14-7 lead on a Tiatia short run and 17-yard pass from Wilstead to Steve Bangerter.

Dixie tied it early in the second quarter when Barben and Takau hooked up from 52 yards, making it 14-14 with 10:05 left in the second quarter.

Moments later Wilgar made a huge play by intercepting Wilstead at the 2-yard line. On the very next play, Dixie running back Tre Miller took a read play and burst through the line, then cut to the left sideline and outraced all defenders for a 98-yard score. That gave Dixie a 21-14 lead with 6:18 to go in the half.

The Panthers tied the game at 21-21 on an 8-yard run by Tiatia with 2:38 left in the half, but Dixie regained the lead on a well-managed drive that used up the rest of the half. Barben got his third TD on a 13-yarder from Takau to make it 28-21 at the half.

Wilstead’s 5-yard TD run in the third quarter briefly tied the game at 28-28.

The Flyers, who lost to Pine View 42-36 in Week 5, improve to 9-4 on the season and will play in the 3AA State Championship next Friday at 11 a.m. here in Rice-Eccles. Miller led the offensive show for Dixie, rushing for 179 yards on 18 carries.

Pine View, which out-gained the Flyers 472-401 in total offense, finish the year 9-3. Tiatia rushed for 206 yards in the loss for PV.

Stats: Dixie 38, Pine View 28

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.


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  • S. Carter November 14, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Yet another year of big talk from Costco High, and yet another year of falling short. Their football field says it all, it’s their “Legacy” lol! It’s gotta suck pretty bad to watch, year after year, your region rivals pass you by on their way to state championships!!

  • Joanna November 14, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Wow, awesome photos! Sounds like a great game. Congrats, Dixie!

  • Ash November 14, 2014 at 10:15 am

    WOW @s.carter! How bout just applauding the fact that our 3AA North rivals were shut out of the Semifinals? Great job to ALL our student athletes in 3AA South football! Helluva season! #believe4britton

  • Koolaid November 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

    They should have a big dance party, say at Fiesta Fun!

  • Rockndixie November 14, 2014 at 10:34 am

    When are we going to start the conversation about having the playoffs in Southern Utah? Couldn’t it work every other year? Traveling to SLC every year is expensive and very few of the family and fans can actually make it. Time for a change!

    • Just Ben November 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      KJZZ has the television rights to all the semi-final and championship games. They elected to not broadcast this game, but their money talks to the UHSAA about where to hold the games. DSU doesn’t have a large enough visitor side seating area, so that venue won’t work for a game of this magnitude. (There’s a reason to separate the fans of the local high schools) I’m not that familiar with T-bird stadium at SUU to know if that venue would work.

      For some of these kids, it’s the only time they’ll ever play on a D-1 college field, too.

      • Koolaid November 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

        Separate them, because those self-claimed good mormon parents are really jerks?

    • TheExperience November 14, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      The boys on the football team actually work hard for the chance to play at Rice Eccles Stadium. It’s a big deal and a privilege for them to play there. It’s a different feeling to play at such a large stadium. I did miss this last game because off the distance but I wouldn’t dream of taking away the opportunity my brother had of playing on that field.

      • Nate November 15, 2014 at 2:49 am

        Great game to both teams!

        It’s just silly that two St. George high schools have to travel 300 miles to play a game, in the snow, in a big EMPTY stadium. If the UHSAA wanted to make more money on the game, they’d allow the game to be played on a neutral field in Southern Utah (perhaps at Snow Canyon). The City of St.G could certainly put up the nice portable bleachers [they use for the Marathon and IronMan] on the visitors side at DSU’s Hansen Stadium.

        Some of the people that live in Southern Utah would like to go support our Alma Mater, but can’t with the game 300 miles away! Plus they’d get a HUGE turn-out from the community if the game was in St. George. Why make our teams always travel north?!

        You know, some of the state games were played down here a while back and it was an awesome, electric and PACKED stadium at Dixie State! Besides, KJZZ didn’t even broadcast the game and trying to get it as a live feed on KSL.com or the DeseretNews.com was a complete joke– as it continually stopped working.

        Anyway, keep Flyin’ High… GO DIXIE!!

        • Taxpayer November 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

          Bingo. St George can put up bleachers for much larger venues such as the marathon and Iron Man. St George can certainly manage for any larger crowds at a football game. Look at all the empty seats in the U of U stadium. How exciting is it to play in a mostly empty stadium knowing your supporters would have been there had you played closer to home. It is stupid that SLC has a monopoly on the playoff arena.

      • Taxpayer November 17, 2014 at 10:21 am

        Not everyone can afford to drive 300 miles each way plus additional costs to make that trip nor take off an entire day from work. Taxpayers get hit with $10,000 bill for football players to enjoy this ‘experience’? You would complain about wasteful spending if this was spent on something other than football and sports.

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