OREGON – Nolan Randick wasn’t supposed to start at middle linebacker this week, but thrust into a new role, the senior helped lead Dixon to perhaps its best defensive performance of the season in a 27-6 win over Oregon.
The Dukes limited the Hawks to just 115 yards of offense in the game. Randick set the tone with a strip-sack of Oregon quarterback Ryker Finch on the game’s third play; he recovered the fumble for good measure, setting up a 13-yard touchdown run by Tyler Christiansen to give Dixon a lead it would never relinquish.
“That’s how you know you have a healthy program. This young man has paid his dues,” Dixon coach Dave Smith said. “Tonight, he got his shot, and he did a great job. I thought he had a very, very solid game tonight.”
The game was much closer than the final score would indicate. Dixon’s lead was just 14-6 with less than 6 minutes to go before the Dukes (2-1) finally put the game away with back-to-back scores.
“[The final score] was 14-6,” Smith said. “I know it was 27-6, but it was 14-6. We knew Oregon was going to be tough. We knew they are coached tough. They are physical.”
After moving backward in the first quarter – “gaining” minus-12 yards in the frame – the Hawks bulldozed their way back into the game thanks to the bruising
backfield combination of Dalton Hermes and Jake Mennen, with the latter plunging in from a yard out to pull Oregon within 14-6 midway through the second quarter.
Mennen, who rushed for 72 yards, was injured on the final play of the first half, and in his absence, the game turned into a defensive struggle for much of the second half. Oregon did not help its cause by fumbling the ball seven times, including multiple botched pitches or exchanges in the backfield.
“Our kids played fast tonight,” Smith said. “They understand what coaches [Rich] Crabel, [Bruce] Luther, and [John] Heckert want. From the defensive line all the way to the defensive backs, they played well.”
Even during the barren middle quarters, Dixon quarterback Jacob Shafer remained efficient throughout, completing 18 of his 25 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, including a 7-yard touchdown to Brayden Forrest midway through the fourth quarter to help put a bow on the victory for the Dukes. Christiansen got loose for a 55-yard TD run a little later, giving him 110 yards on the day, and that was all she wrote.
“When [Shafer] needed to, he played well tonight,” Smith said. “We knew [Oregon] was going to put pressure on us, and he did well with the pressure.”
Forrest had six catches for 58 yards for Dixon.