DIXON — For a while, it looked like it might be a shootout at A.C. Bowers Field on Friday night.
But LaSalle-Peru kept firing while Dixon shot blanks for the last 2 1/2 quarters, resulting in a 53-14 victory for the Cavaliers.
Two touchdowns in less than 2 minutes brought Dixon back from a 13-point deficit and the Dukes led 14-13 with 8:04 left in the first half.The Cavaliers exploded for four touchdowns in the final 6 minutes, 12 seconds of the first half to build 39-14 halftime lead on the way to a Northern Illinois Big 12 West rout that spoiled Dixon's homecoming.
Trailing 13-0, the Dukes (0-6 overall, 0-2 NIB-12 West) marched 66 yards for their first touchdown. JD Gieson's 43-yard pass to Andrew Smith, who had four catches for 77 yards, set up Gieson's 16-yard TD run, accented by his leap over a defender at the goal line.
With the score 13-6, Dixon recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff and moved 49 yards in five plays, the capper a 26-yard TD toss from Gieson to Smith. Gieson, who passed for 139 yards and rushed for 64, then hit Matt Coffey on a fake point after for the go-ahead two-point conversion, making it 14-13.
"We felt pretty positive. We had it going, and we weren't making the mistakes we were making earlier," Gieson said. "We started capitalizing and I thought we'd pick it up in the second half, but we had a lot of mental things and we fell apart."
LaSalle-Peru (2-4, 1-1) and quarterback Zack Cinotto had apparently seen enough. Cinotto threw four of his seven touchdown passes in the final 6:12 of the first half. Cinotto had TD passes of 80, 68, 26, 23 and 13 yards before a 2-yarder to end the half.
Cinotto, who had a 68-yard TD pass in the second half, passed for 388 yards in less than three quarters of work. He went for 293 yards in the first half alone. In all, the Cavaliers passed for 425 yards and eight touchdowns, and had three receivers exceed 100 yards.
Dixon lost the turnover battle 5-1.
"That's the name of the game," Dukes coach Dave Smith said. "These kids have worked too hard to play like that. I feel bad for our seniors to lose like this on Homecoming."
Star of the game: Zack Cinotto, LP, 388 passing yards, 7 TDs
Key performers: Brandon Pawlak, LP, 153 receiving yards, 3 TDs; Adam Happ, LP, 148 receiving yards, 2 TDs; JD Gieson, Dixon, 203 total yards, 2 TDs
Up next: Dixon at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m. Friday