ST. GEORGE It was all Dixie High School in the fourth quarter Friday night at Walt Brooks Stadium. Trailing 14-18 to start the final quarter, the Flyers surprised the Cedar City Redmen with a 16-yard touchdown pass from running back Dallen Reber to quarterback Mike Sharp, to pull ahead 21-18, then didn't look back as they completed a pleasant homecoming celebration with a 31-18 victory before a stadium-packed crowd.
Almost the entire 2nd half was battled out in Cedar City territory. Dixie (3-2) held Cedar (3-2) four times the third quarter and three times the in the fourth, giving up only one first down each quarter, while scoring three times in the final period on Reber's pass, a 19-yard touchdown-pass from Sharp to Jake Mills, and a Mike Meyer's field goal.
Meyers also added four extra points. Reber finished with 72 hard-fought yards on 14 carries.
Dixie and Cedar traded quarterback touchdown-runs in the first quarter. Cedar's Kai Eldredge ran untouched to the right for a 63-yard score, then Dixie's Sharp quickly returned the favor with a 31-yard score to the left. But Cedar had failed on the extra point, and the Flyers led 7-6.
Dixie then held Cedar on its own 8-yard line, but failed to advance the ball after receiving the punt in good field position, familiar territory in which they found themselves several times on the night. After a 44-yard punt from kicker Chunner Nyberg, Dixie again held Cedar deep in its own territory, before Flyer Logan Aitken returned a nifty interception to Cedar's 14. Taking advantage of the turnover, Sharp scored a couple of plays later from four yards out for a 14-6 advantage.
Cedar City then sustained a fine 16-play, 80-yard drive, scoring on a Trent Grover 23-yard scramble to pull within two. But Cedar failed on a two-point conversion and trailed 14-12.
Dixie's 95-yard kickoff return by John Matauto was called back on penalties, then four plays later, Dixie gave the Redmen good field position after a short punt to Dixie's 39. Cedar scored after another sustained 11-play drive, capped by a 1-yard Grover run, one of several nice carries on the night. But after failing again on the extra point pass, the Redmen took a slim 18-14 lead into the halftime homecoming celebration (but not before a 46-yard pass from Flyer's Sharp to Reber was called back on penalties at the end of the 2nd quarter.)
That close miss seemed to set the stage for the second half. Dixie held Cedar to its own half of the field the rest of the game, but failed to score in the 3rd-quarter after taking the ball over with good field position three times.
They solved that problem with three scores in the 4th-quarter among good defensive holds.
"We settled down in the second half," said Dixie's defensive coach Carl Franke. "We showed discipline and stayed at home. The first quarter was like practice, getting used to the speed of the game. Cedar does a great job, but our defense worked in the second half."
Dixie did well to bounce back from a close game they thought perhaps they had won before they lost last week in overtime at Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas, a late-game close-call making the difference.