Trailblazers suffer third straight loss

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Dixie State University football found itself on the losing end once again this season.

The Trailblazers fell victim to the Central Washington University Wildcats 18-40 Saturday, their third consecutive loss.

CWU came out punching early as it forced DSU to punt on its first possession. The Wildcats blocked the punt and returned it for a touchdown to take a quick 0-7 lead.

DSU responded as it converted a field goal with two minutes left in the first quarter. CWU didn’t waste any time after allowing the field goal and scored a touchdown just one minute and 21 seconds later.

The Wildcats extended their lead midway through the second quarter after CWU scored a touchdown on a 41-yard pass. The extra point try was failed, but the score stood at 3-20 in favor of CWU.

DSU’s offense was unable to get anything going as it was forced to punt on five of its opening six possessions.

“We’ve got to do a better job at understanding assignments,” head coach Shay McClure. “[The players] have to make the right decisions to give us an opportunity to move the football.” 

CWU took a commanding 3-27 lead near the end of the first half following an 89-yard drive. The Trailblazers were able to cut into the lead before halftime as freshman quarterback Josh Thompson connected with sophomore running back Orlando Wallace on a 43-yard touchdown pass. DSU entered halftime trailing 10-27.

The Trailblazers offense continued to struggle in the third quarter as it only managed a total of 27 yards during the period. Their three possessions resulted in a punt, a turnover on downs and an interception. As DSU’s offense remained stagnant, CWU extended its lead midway through the third quarter with a touchdown. The Wildcats entered the fourth quarter leading 10-33.

“I’ve got to take charge more,” said Thompson, a general studies major from Ontario, California. “We weren’t able to respond and you have to be able to do that.”

DSU made one final attempt to get back into the game as redshirt freshman running back Clifford Simms scored on a 4-yard rushing touchdown bringing the Trailblazers within two touchdowns, 18-33.

The Wildcats thwarted the comeback attempt by sealing the victory with a touchdown near the end of the fourth quarter. The touchdown was CWU’s sixth of the day. With the score, the Wildcats handed DSU its worst loss of the 2016 season, 18-40.

“We got beat by a better team,” McClure said. “We did not give ourselves the opportunity to win. We’ve got to put ourselves in position to make plays.”

DSU’s defense allowed a total of 490 yards throughout the game, 275 of those yards were rushing yards.

“[Defense] always comes down do doing our jobs,” said Keanu Foki, a Sports Medicine major from Honolulu, Hawaii. “We continue to stay positive, work hard and give our best effort. That’s all we can do.”

For DSU’s offense, Thompson finished going 15-24, throwing for 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Trailblazers’ leading rusher was Wallace who ran for 46 yards.

The Trailblazers fall to 1-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The team will return home to play Western State Colorado University Saturday at 1 p.m. inside Legend Solar Stadium.