DIXON – Matt Coffey couldn’t contain his anger at himself, and actually had to come out of the game for a play because he was so steamed. He had just dropped a sure touchdown catch, as quarterback JD Gieson’s late-first-quarter pass had bounced off Coffey’s hands with the junior receiver 15 yards behind the entire Rochelle defense.
Two possessions earlier, the Dukes had failed to capitalize on a first-and-goal situation after Quinton Douglas was tackled on the Rochelle 7-yard line after a 38-yard scamper right up the middle of the field.
That was the game in a nutshell Friday night at A.C. Bowers Field. The Dukes missed their chances, while the Hubs took advantage of nearly every single one of theirs. The end result was a 44-0 Rochelle victory.
“I got down on myself, and I think the other guys did, too,” said Coffey, who had an otherwise solid night on both sides of the ball, “and that’s something I have to be better at, that we all have to get better at. We’ve got to believe in ourselves, not hang our heads when we get behind by a couple of scores.
“But this is a process, and there are a lot of positives for us to take from this game. That’s a good team, a good program we just lost to, and we’ll come back and work harder Monday.”
The stats tell the story. Rochelle had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the first quarter, and piled up 407 of its 475 yards on the ground. Evan White and Marquez Felix each carried the ball 13 times; White gained 142 yards and scored three touchdowns, and Felix finished with 168 yards and a score.
The Hubs (2-0) went 78 yards in eight running plays on their first TD drive, then covered 96 yards in four plays – Felix had a 33-yard run, then a 48-yard scoring scamper – on the series following Dixon’s foray into the red zone.
Two plays later, Felix picked off a Gieson pass and returned it 25 yards to midfield; White scored from there on the very next play for a 22-0 Rochelle lead just 9:52 into the game.
“We studied their schemes and got greased up all week,” White said. “We know they’re going to come out strong, but we came off the bus ready to go, and we just killed it in the first quarter.”
The Dukes (1-1) got the ball back on downs, then forced a punt on the next two Rochelle possessions, and sandwiched an 11-play, 61-yard drive in between. But they turned the ball over on downs at the Rochelle 11, then went three-and-out the next series.
When Angel Burciaga connected with Keegan Akers on a 41-yard TD pass with 1:14 left before halftime, the Hubs led 30-0.
“They’re very, very, very disciplined, and we’re not … yet. We knew exactly what they were going to do, and we knew that we needed to keep their run game to the inside. We couldn’t do that, and that’s what happens,” Coffey said, pointing at the scoreboard.
The Hubs scored on their first two possessions of the second half, and the running clock took effect.
Dixon was outgained 475-173, and Rochelle had 22 first downs to the Dukes’ nine. Gieson ran for 21 yards and threw for 77 on 7-for-21 passing, and was intercepted three times. Kyle LeBlanc had 44 yards receiving, and Quinton Douglas ran for 49 yards and added 24 yards receiving.
“Rochelle didn’t do anything different than we expected,” Dixon coach Dave Smith said, “but they executed their game plan and we didn’t. They owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and they scored early and often to get us completely out of our rhythm.”
Rochelle 44, Dixon 0
Key performers: Marquez Felix, Rochelle, 168 rushing yards, TD; Angel Burciaga, Rochelle, 68 passing yards, TD, rush TD; Quinton Douglas, Dixon, 49 rushing yards, 24 receiving yards; Kyle LeBlanc, Dixon, 44 receiving yards, sack, fumble recovery