ST. GEORGE — After a grim offensive performance in the first half, Dixie State’s offense exploded in the second half to get the come from behind win on the road against Fort Lewis with a final score of 24-13.
The game was eerily similar to the Trailblazers’s last game at Fort Lewis state, a game in which Dixie would not score a single points and trail 14-0 in the first half, but rallied to win 23-14 instead of 24-13.
Dixie State’s offense got off to a slow start, with only 126 yards of offense in the first half. The early struggles were reminiscent of DSU’s first game against Colorado-Pueblo, where the Trailblazers scored no points in the first half, just like their first half performance against Fort Lewis. Dixie would trail 14-0 at the half.
“There was no panic at halftime,” head coach Paul Peterson said in a release. “It was just about everybody doing their job, having each other’s back, and trusting what their assignment was. We came out and stepped it up in the second half and made the plays.”
The Trailblazer defense came up big in the second half, holding Fort Lewis to no points, while the DSU offense finally broke through, scoring 23 points, giving them their first victory of the season.
Dixie scored again at the three-minute mark of the third quarter, this time by way of a James Baird field goal, cutting the Fort Lewis lead to 14-10.
Fort Lewis then marched down the field, eventually reaching the four-yard line. Fort Lewis’s quarterback Jake Lowry scrambled out of the pocket, but Alex Lillard tracked him down to get the strip sack and recovery. That play would prove to be a major turning point in the game.
“That was a big stop,” Peterson said. “It’s always big when the defense can give us a short field or get the ball back. Those types of plays are huge for us.”
The Trailblazers did not convert on the next drive, but their defense continued to hold Fort Lewis from scoring, and DSU scored after a massive Wilstead 58-yard completion to Xavier Smith for the touchdown. After the missed PAT, the Trailblazers had their first lead of the game, 16-14.
Dixie State would finish off Fort Lewis with another big play, this time a Wilstead 72 yard completion to Conner Miller for a touchdown under the two-minute mark in the fourth quarter. Baird nailed the PAT, and Dixie led 23-14, which was the final score.
After the Trailblazer’s last game, Peterson mentioned that the team would still be looking at both their quarterbacks and giving Keaton Mott and Wilstead reps. Wilstead came out in the second half, finding his rhythm. Wilstead finished the game with 327 yards, completing 16 of his 32 passes, with three touchdowns and one interception.
Conner Miller led the receiving core for the Trailblazers with three receptions and 110 receiving yards.
On the defensive side of things, Darrius Nash and Simote Lokotui led the team with seven tackles, while Nash added an interception.
Dixie State will be on the road again next week, as they travel to Las Vegas, New Mexico to take on New Mexico Highlands in their third Rock Mountain Athletic Conference game.
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