DIXON – Dave Smith took a timeout.
As his Dukes ran back to the sideline, he hollered, “One guy? Where’s all our purple?”
The pursuit wasn’t there, allowing Geneseo’s Rayce Singbush to cut back from outside the right hashmarks to the middle of the field and convert a third-and-10 late in the first quarter Friday night at A.C. Bowers Field.
It was a big play, but the third-shortest carry of Singbush’s night at 11 yards. The cutbacks cut deeper as the half went on, and the Maple Leafs (4-1, 1-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 West) got back on track with a 56-0 rout of Dixon (1-4, 0-1), spoiling homecoming for the Dukes.
“It’s awful,” Dixon senior Dane Schielein said. “It’s embarrassing to come out here on Senior Night [homecoming] and see those numbers on the scoreboard. It’s something we need to get over before we get after L-P next week.”
Singbush, who rushed nine times for 223 yards, put the Leafs up 7-0 on a 60-yard scamper with 5:29 left in the first. Then Brandon Mizlo dove and got the pylon to make it 14-0 on the play after the aforementioned third-and-long conversion.
Singbush scored from 28 yards out early in the second, then took it 82 yards for a score on a counter left with 5:22 left in the half. He broke into a trot at the 5, not out of showmanship. Already with 199 yards on six carries, he was tired.
“We definitely needed to work on getting downfield better with our blockers and getting downfield and helping running backs,” Singbush said. “That really helped us this week, because I saw blockers downfield and doing their job.
“When the linemen give you that big of a hole, you’re happy, but you’re also like, ‘That’s a lot of running,’” Singbush said. “It puts a big smile on my face.”
After Mizlo scored from 38 yards away with 2:29 left, the Dukes muffed the ensuing kickoff, allowing Luke Snyder to hit Drew Himmelman from 3 yards out for a 42-0 lead and a running clock to start the second half.
The Dukes managed to corral Singbush for just 2 yards on his only second-half carry, getting a stop on third-and-5. But after marching to the Geneseo 15, JD Gieson (6-for-14, 56 yards, 2 INT; 8 rushes, 58 yards) telegraphed a pass to the left sideline and was picked off. The clock would keep running, and the Dukes would regret missed opportunities early on.
Their opening drive stalled at the Geneseo 15. After hitting Matt Coffey on a pump-and-go rout four plays earlier for 21 yards, the same play was thwarted by double-coverage.
“Dixon’s offense can get you on a string, on a yo-yo,” Geneseo coach Larry Johnsen said, “because they do some things that are hard to defend. I know they’re young and stuff like that, but I thought it was a good challenge for us.”
The Dukes turned it over on downs at the Geneseo 41 on their next possession, a punt fake run by Quinton Douglas (14 carries, 68 yards; 3 receptions, 24 yards) going for 3 yards on fourth-and-9.
On the next Dukes possession, Gieson, who was harassed all night, scrambled left, then back to his right and threw the ball into the middle of the field. It looked safe for a moment, until Tyler Mackey dove to pick it off.
Geneseo scored on all five of its first-half possessions and outgained Dixon 461-163. The Leafs rushed 36 times for 424 yards, a clip of 11.8 yards per carry.
Player of the game: Rayce Singbush, Geneseo, 9 carries, 223 yards, 3 TDs
Key performers: Quinton Douglas, Dixon, 14 carries, 68 yards, 3 receptions, 24 yards
Up next: Dixon at LaSalle-Peru, 7:30 p.m. Friday