Stan Plewe, Dixie State Athletics
Dixie State defensive back Jaylen Moore returns an interception 42 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter of DSU's 35-22 loss to No. 20 Colorado Mesa on Saturday.

The Dixie State football team fell 35-22 to No. 20 Colorado Mesa on Saturday at Legend Solar Stadium.

The Trailblazers (3-4, 3-3 RMAC) jumped out to a 6-0 lead after sophomore defensive back Jaylen Moore picked off a CMU pass on the third play of the game and raced 42 yards for a touchdown. The play marked the first DSU interception-return touchdown since November 15, 2014. The point-after attempt failed, but the Trailblazers added to the lead two drives later when redshirt freshman kicker A.J. Yergensen nailed a 22-yard field goal to give DSU a 9-0 lead with 4:02 remaining in the first quarter.

Colorado Mesa responded in the second quarter, converting on a key 3rd-and-19 to set up a 4-yard touchdown run two plays later to cut the lead to 9-7 at the 13:54 mark. The Mavericks then forced a DSU punt and scored on a 2-yard run four plays later to take a 14-9 lead with 9:15 remaining in the period.

Dixie State countered with its longest scoring drive of the game, marching 76 yards in 10 plays, capped by a 19-yard touchdown strike from senior quarterback Malik Watson to sophomore receiver Dejuan Dantzler, to retake the lead at 15-14 with 4:53 until halftime.

The Mavericks took the lead for good on their first drive of the third quarter. After forcing a DSU three-and-out, CMU running back David Tann broke free for a 67-yard touchdown run to give the visiting team a 21-15 lead. Colorado Mesa forced another DSU punt on the ensuing possession and added another touchdown five plays later to take a 28-15 lead with 9:45 remaining in the third frame.

The Trailblazers pulled back to within one score at 28-22 midway through the third quarter when Watson found redshirt sophomore receiver Kasey Allison across the middle for a 40-yard touchdown strike. But, despite recovering a CMU fumble and later holding the Mavericks on fourth and one at the DSU 4-yard line, Dixie State didn't get any closer.

Colorado Mesa sealed the victory with its fifth touchdown run of the game to push the lead to the eventual final score of 35-22 with 6:44 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Dixie State finished with 326 yards of total offense. Watson completed 20-of-34 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Allison finished with a season-best 140 yards receiving and a touchdown on seven catches.

Defensively, the Trailblazers conceded 542 yards of total offense, including 436 yards rushing. Sophomore safety Mike Jones led the way with a season-high 14 tackles, while senior linebacker Noe Perez and junior linebacker Tane Tuifua finished with nine tackles each. Moore finished with six tackles to go with his interception-return touchdown.

Dixie State heads to Golden, Colorado, next Saturday for a matchup with Colorado Mines. Kickoff is set for noon.

Keric Seegmiller is Assistant Coordinator of Media Relations at Dixie State University and the Voice of Trailblazer Athletics. Contact him at [email protected].