STREATOR — One team was going to walk out of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference a winner Friday night. That team was the Dixon Dukes.
The Dukes won a thriller, 29-27, over the host Streator Bulldogs in both teams’ final game before leaving for new conferences next year.
The Bulldogs led with less than 4 minutes to play before Dixon cashed in a 67-yard drive with a fourth-and-goal 2-yard touchdown plunge from Quinton Douglas.
Dixon finishes the season 3-6 (2-3 NIB-12 West). Streator closes with a record of 2-7 (2-3).
Dixon’s JD Gieson was a big-play machine. The junior quarterback avoided sack after sack and turned them into positive gains and ran two fake punts for backbreaking first downs. He finished as Dixon’s leading rusher with 63 yards on 17 carries, in addition to his 21-for-36, 298-yard, two-touchdown day throwing the ball.
Streator countered with its running game – namely senior workhorse Drew Muntz. He cleared the 2,000-yard plateau for his varsity career with 182 yards on 15 carries. Most of those came on two long touchdown runs. The first was from 85 yards out on a third-down draw play to give Streator an early second-quarter lead. The latter was from 55 yards away with 8:31 remaining to give the Bulldogs their final lead, 27-23.
Gieson had touchdown passes to Matt Coffey (39 yards) and Kyle LeBlanc (30 yards). Dixon earned a safety midway through the fourth, and got two short touchdown runs – including the game-winning plunge with 3:33 remaining – from Douglas.
Coffey finished with six receptions for 90 yards, LeBlanc hauled in five catches for 119 yards, while Ryan Webb and Douglas recorded four receptions apiece.
Defensively, Matt Coffey made a game-saving tackle late, Ben Mayes and Jakob Johnson each recorded interceptions, andsenior Dane Schielein had a monstrous game in his Dukes finale with four tackles for losses and a quarterback sack.
“[This win] was huge for the entire team,” Schielein said. “It’s always important to do well that last game, to make a statement, and both we and Streator are going into new conferences after struggling with our football programs. So tonight was probably one of the biggest games we’ve had in years.
“We were just out there to make a statement.”
Dixon outgained Streator 418-272 in yardage and 22-8 in first downs.
“We knew what they were going to do defensively as far as loading the box,” Streator head coach Kirk Melody said, “but we struggled offensively. We hit some big plays and had some momentum, but then on the defensive side of the ball we’d get them in second-and-long, third-and-long and they’re converting, moving the ball down the field and getting big plays themselves.”