DIXON – After waiting for nearly 2 hours, the Dixon Dukes were chomping at the bit to get onto A.C. Bowers Field on Friday.
They wasted no time once they stepped between the lines.
JD Gieson threw touchdown passes to Kyle LeBlanc on the Dukes’ first two drives, and the defense was all over Monmouth-Roseville from the start in a 25-0 victory in the season opener – Dixon’s first win at home since 2010.
“We wanted to make some plays early, never let them get any momentum from the get-go,” said Gieson, who amassed 317 yards of total offense. “It felt like forever while we were waiting in the cafeteria before the game, but we started hot bright and early once we got on the field.”
A lightning delay between the sophomore game and the varsity contest left students, parents, coaches, players, and officials milling around. Several lightning flashes resulted in the clock for the mandatory 30-minute waiting period being reset a half-dozen times.
Finally, at 8:40 p.m., word came down that the players would take the field in 10 minutes, have 10 minutes to warm up, then the game would get underway. To accommodate the late start, halftime was shaved to 10 minutes, as well.
Dixon warmed up, received the opening kickoff, then scored six plays later. Gieson, who found LeBlanc for 30 yards on third-and-10 to kick-start the drive, connected with the junior wideout for a 28-yard scoring strike just 2 minutes, 4 seconds into the game.
After shutting down Monmouth-Roseville following an initial first down, the Dukes (1-0) struck even more quickly the second time they had the ball. On the second play from scrimmage, Gieson lofted a pass down the near sideline, and LeBlanc leapt over the defender and snatched the ball out of the air. As the defender fell down, LeBlanc scampered into the end zone to complete a 76-yard scoring play.
“It really helped to get the momentum early on,” senior Quinton Douglas said. “It feels pretty good to share this win with the home crowd.”
The defense was as stingy as the offense was explosive. Monmouth-Roseville had 38 total yards at halftime (all on the ground), and just 42 total yards – again, all on the ground – through three quarters. The Titans (0-1) also lost four of their five fumbles – including three in the first four plays of the fourth quarter – and finished with just five first downs – two on their final drive of the game against Dixon’s second-stringers.
“Our coaches have been preaching shutouts to us,” Douglas said, “and we knew if we limited their rushing, we’d get the job done. We knew our assignments, and did what the coaches told us to.”
Dixon, which had 330 total yards – but also 11 penalties for 101 yards – had the chance to put the game away before halftime, but came up empty on two second-quarter drives into Titan territory.
But after the short halftime, when they didn’t even go into the locker room, the Dukes took care of business in the third quarter. After the defense sniffed out a fake punt on Monmouth-Roseville’s opening drive, Gieson orchestrated an eight-play drive, running for a first down on third-and-20, then connecting with Matt Coffey twice, the second time a 26-yard scoring strike on fourth-and-8.
After one Titan first down, Josh Wiseman returned a 24-yard punt 25 yards, then Gieson hit Coffey for 26 yards before finding Connor Sperling on a roll-out pass for a 14-yard TD.
On the touchdown, Gieson rolled to his right, looked as if he’d try to run for it, then pulled up short of the line of scrimmage and found Sperling at the goal line.
“It was huge to come out of halftime and start rolling again,” Gieson said. “We had some difficulties in the second quarter, and weren’t clicking like early on – I was a little too hyped up, I think – but we caught our breath at halftime, relaxed a little bit, and too control of the game.”
Dixon 25, Monmouth-Roseville 0
Star of the game: JD Gieson, Dixon, 91 rush yards, 226 pass yards, 4 TDs
Key performers: Kyle LeBlanc, Dixon, 4 catches, 150 yards, 2 TDs (all in 1st half); Wesley Burris, M-R, 17 rushes, 62 yards
Up next: Burlington Central at Dixon, 7 p.m. Friday