Dixie State University took a page out of Western State Colorado University’s playbook as they rushed to victory Saturday at Legend Solar Stadium.
With this win, the Trailblazers improved to 2-3 on the season as they beat the Mountaineers 20-28. In what was a physical game, DSU produced no turnovers and dictated the overall pace of play.
The Trailblazers were able to strike first as senior running back DeJon Coleman scored on a 33-yard run early in the second quarter.
Shortly after DSU’s touchdown, the Mountaineers responded back with a score of their own. In a drive that took less than two minutes, WSCU’s quarterback managed to find the end zone on a 1-yard run that immediately followed his 35 yard dash. After the extra point, WSCU tied the game at seven.
DSU again took the ball down the field as the offensive line continued to control the trenches. After being stopped inside the 20-yard line, DSU’s field goal attempt was blocked and recovered by the Mountaineers.
Thanks to a strong stand by the DSU defense, the Trailblazers got the ball back with just a few minutes left until halftime. Redshirt freshman running back Clifford Simms found several gaps in the defense and scored on a 45-yard rushing attempt. DSU’s extra point struck the right goal post and left them with a 7-13 lead.
“I thought [the offensive line] played a flawless game,” said quarterback Blake Barney, a sophomore CIT major from St. George. “They were opening up holes for our running backs.”
The Mountaineers answered with a 47-yard touchdown run from their all-conference running back, Austin Ekeler. After the extra point sailed through the up-rights, WSCU took a 14-13 lead into halftime.
As the second half began, both teams failed to gain momentum. Penalties halted any progress that would have given either team the advantage. DSU was forcing the Mountaineers into third and long situations, just as they had done all game.
When they needed it most, the Trailblazers began to drive down the field toward the end of the third quarter. Due to some scrambling by Barney, DSU managed to cross the goal line as Coleman collected his second touchdown of the day.
In an attempt to make the lead seven, DSU elected to try a two-point conversion, which was successful. The Trailblazers took the lead, 14-21, with nearly two minutes to go in the third quarter.
WSCU found no threat in the seven point deficit they were facing as they continued to rely on Ekeler, their NCAA leading rusher.
The Mountaineers found the end zone at the seven minute mark as they snuck across the goal line on a 1-yard run. The WSCU kicker sent the extra point attempt of the left up-rights, failing to tie the game at 21.
“The kicking game on this field is cursed… and now it is cursed for everyone,” head coach Shay McClure said.
After WSCU cut the lead to one, DSU gave themselves some separation as redshirt senior wide receiver Aubrey Reed caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Barney, who was playing in his first game of the season after returning from injury. The Trailblazers converted the extra point and stretched the lead to 28-20.
“We put a lot of hours and a lot of time in this week and it really showed out here today,” said Reed, a redshirt senior communication major from Tacoma, Washington.
DSU forced a fumble, the games only turnover, during WSCU’s second to last possession of the game. As the pocket collapsed around the Mountaineers’ quarterback, the ball was stripped from his grasp and found its way into DSU hands.
The Trailblazers walked away with an eight point victory as they had managed to win the turnover battle, time of possession, and total rushing yards.
“It didn’t matter if it was DeJon or Cliff or Blake [running], we stuck with it,” McClure said.
The Trailblazers seek to improve to 3-3 on the season as they play Chadron State College Oct. 8 on the road in Chadron, Nebraska.