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Small picture still in focus for Dukes

So their playoff dreams were dashed by an Ottawa explosion on Senior Night at A.C. Bowers Field.

Don’t think for 1 minute that’s going to stop the Dixon Dukes from trying to finish the season strong.

After heading into the locker room trailing by 42 points at halftime Friday night, Dixon outscored the Pirates 21-7 after the break, and ran their offense as well as they wanted to run it from the get-go.

The Dukes ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns in the second half, and despite the clock counting down against them the whole time, nearly made it very interesting when they recovered an Ottawa fumble at midfield.

This was right after Dixon turned a Pirates’ fumble into a short touchdown drive to get within 49-21 with 8:27 to go.

“If we would have had more time, I think we were really heading in the right direction,” said junior running back/linebacker Cody Mighell of the running clock. “We were playing a lot better, and even had some second-string guys in there who were killing it for us.

“I think we figured out some of our mistakes and made some good adjustments, but it was too late.”

Still, the strong second half helped a little bit to wash away the bitter taste of Ottawa’s unexpected aerial assault that went for 127 yards and four touchdowns.

In the second half, Dixon forced two fumbles, a punt and limited the Pirates’ reserves to 81 total yards. If not for backup quarterback Trent Porter’s 90-yard TD sprint midway through the third quarter, the Dukes’ defense would’ve held Ottawa to minus-28 yards rushing – and minus-9 total yards – after halftime.

“We still feel pretty positive about the way we played in the second half,” junior quarterback JD Gieson said. “It’s tough to focus when you’re down by that much, but I’m proud of the way this team came out and got things going in the second half.”

Even with the playoffs now out of the big picture, the Dukes are still clinging to the mantra they’ve been following since Dave Smith took over the program before the 2011 season.

Small picture, big focus. Stay potsitive, work your tails off. Take the next step, then work on taking another.

“We’re still a reconstruction project, and we’re going to keep building and working,” Gieson said. “We’re still pretty young, and we feel we have some great things ahead of us.”

“We’re definitely more confident after that second half than maybe we were at halftime,” Mighell added, “and we’ve just got to keep our heads up and take a couple of steps forward to make up for this step back … and we’ve still got 2 weeks to do that.”

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