DIXON – The deficit was as shocking as it was swift. But that didn’t deter the Dixon Dukes from a strong second-half effort Friday night at A.C. Bowers Field.
After the Ottawa Pirates scored on five of their first six possessions in their NIB-12 West contest, plus a pick-six, the Dukes’ offense finally got on track after halftime. But with the running clock, a six-score comeback wasn’t in the cards in a 49-21 loss.
“We just turned the scoreboard off in our heads,” Dixon quarterback JD Gieson said, “and just focused on running our offense and executing the way we should have been from the start.”
The Dukes (2-5, 1-2) saw their playoff hopes die on Senior Night, but the second half sure didn’t show any of them giving up. Dixon gained 130 of their 204 total yards in the second half, including a pair of touchdown runs by Gieson and another by Quinton Douglas.
On the other hand, Ottawa (2-5, 2-1) struck early and often. After Weston Hoffman sprinted 40 yards down the sideline for a touchdown on the Pirates’ second drive of the night, they turned to the aerial attack.
With the Dukes crowding the box to stop Ottawa’s running game, quarterback Carter Krause took advantage downfield. He completed five of his six passes for 127 yards and four TDs, three of them going to Joshua Williams out of the backfield.
“The passing game has been hit or miss this year,” Krause said, “but we took what the defense gave us tonight. They had a lot of guys in the box, especially after that great run, and it opened things up. It all starts with the line, though; they blocked well on the runs and the passes.”
The Pirates amassed 250 of their 331 total yards in the first half, and added another 65 yards on Chase Hill’s interception return TD on Dixon’s ensuing possession after the first score. Ottawa had 185 yards on the ground and 146 through the air, had 14 of their 17 first downs before the break, and only punted twice in the game.
Trailing 42-0 at halftime, the Dukes battled the continuous clock and the Pirates’ reserves in the second half, but still left the field with a little better taste in their mouths. Gieson had 79 yards rushing, including TD runs of 5 and 13 yards, and Dixon turned an Ottawa fumble into a two-play, 13-yard scoring drive capped by Douglas’ 7-yard TD run.
But the Dukes couldn’t capitalize on another Ottawa fumble at midfield, and the Pirates got one final first down to finish off the win.
“We’ve got to defend better than we did tonight, but it’s a lesson learned,” said Dixon junior Cody Mighell, who ran for 73 yards. “We kept our heads up, didn’t let the score affect us, and kept battling until the end.”
Ottawa 49, Dixon 21
Key performers: Joshua Williams, Ottawa, 3 catches, 64 yards, 3 TDs; JD Gieson, Dixon, 79 rush yards, 30 pass yards, 2 rushing TDs; Cody Mighell, Dixon, 73 rushing yards