The Dixie State football team snapped a two-game losing skid Saturday with a 54-28 Homecoming victory over Adams State at Legend Solar Stadium.
The Trailblazers (4-5, 4-4 RMAC) exploded for a season-high 620 yards of total offense, including a season-best 378 yards rushing, and a season-high 54 points. Redshirt sophomore Blake Barney (146 yards, two TD) and sophomore Sei-J Lauago (career-high 187 yards, TD) each eclipsed the century mark on the ground, while Barney added a career-best 204 yards passing and three touchdowns. In all, Barney accounted for 350 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.
Dixie State opened the scoring at the midway point of the first quarter when Barney capped a nine-play, 81-yard drive with a 32-yard touchdown run. Barney faked a screen pass to senior running back Jeffrey Coprich, then sprinted up the middle, juking a defender in the process, for the score at the 7:07 mark. Barney also found Lauago for a 28-yard catch-and-run two plays earlier to set up the scoring play.
The Trailblazers forced an ASU three-and-out on the ensuing possession and then jump-started another scoring drive on first down. Barney tossed a screen pass to Lauago at the DSU 33-yard line, who stopped and fired a half-back pass to redshirt sophomore receiver Kasey Allison for a 38-yard gain to the ASU 29-yard line. Lauago broke free for a 14-yard scamper on the next play, and three plays later, Barney scored his second touchdown from six yards out to push the lead to 14-0 with 4:18 remaining in the first quarter.
Adams State answered early in the second quarter and turned a DSU interception into a 17-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 14-7 with 14:55 remaining until halftime.
Dixie State countered with its third scoring drive of the game as Barney, Lauago and Coprich combined for 58 yards rushing on the next possession before the drive stalled inside the red zone. Redshirt freshman kicker A.J. Yergensen made sure the Trailblazers did not go without points on the drive and nailed a 30-yard field goal to push the lead to 17-7.
The Grizzlies pulled within three points at 17-14 on the next possession, marching 75 yards in eight plays in just more than two minutes. ASU capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:39 remaining in the second quarter.
The Trailblazers seemed poised to answer with another touchdown on the next drive. Lauago opened the possession with a highlight-reel 67-yard run to the ASU 8-yard line, breaking multiple tackles to set DSU up inside the red zone. But like the previous DSU possession, the drive stalled, and Yergensen nailed a 22-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-14 with 5:08 to go before the halftime break.
Adams State picked up where it left off on its next drive and threatened to take the lead before halftime. The Grizzlies marched 56 yards to the DSU 19-yard line in eight plays and looked to score on the ninth play. But senior defensive back Tyneil Cooper had other plans. Cooper jumped in front of an ASU pass at the 3-yard line and raced 65 yards the other way to set up the Trailblazers at the ASU 32-yard line.
Dixie State wasted no time turning the turnover into points as Barney found Allison for a 31-yard touchdown pass two plays later to stake the Trailblazers to a 27-14 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies opened another promising drive on their first possession of the second half, but the drive was halted by another DSU interception, as sophomore defensive back Jaylen Moore made a spectacular catch in the end zone for his third interception of the season. And again, the Trailblazers took advantage of the ASU turnover.
Lauago opened the ensuing DSU drive with three-consecutive carries, including a 30-yard scamper on first down, to set up a 46-yard touchdown strike from Barney to junior receiver Orlando Wallace. With less than four minutes gone by in the third quarter, the Trailblazers held a 34-14 lead.
Adams State responded with a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass on third down to cut the lead to 34-21 with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Dixie State pushed the lead back to a three-score advantage at 41-21 midway through the fourth quarter on the second Barney-to-Wallace touchdown connection of the day, this time from 18 yards out. The play capped a five-play, 63-yard drive, highlighted by a 22-yard run by Barney.
The Grizzlies matched the DSU scoring drive with one of their own, marching 75 yards in less than one minute to set up a halfback-pass touchdown to cut the lead back to 41-28 with 6:48 remaining in the final frame.
The Trailblazers mounted their final offensive scoring drive on the ensuing possession, marching 39 yards in six plays to set up a 4-yard Lauago touchdown run on the seventh play of the drive to push the lead to 47-28 with 3:56 remaining.
Dixie State closed the scoring on the ensuing ASU possession when junior defensive lineman Donovan Williams sacked ASU quarterback Nick Rooney, jarring the ball loose in the process. Junior defensive lineman Remington Kelly scooped up the fumble and rumbled 46 yards for his first collegiate touchdown to push the lead to the final tally of 54-28.
The Trailblazers’ 620 yards of total offense marked the third-most yards in a single game during the program’s NCAA Division II era. Barney and Lauago led the offensive onslaught on the ground, while Wallace finished with four catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns and Allison added two catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.
Dixie State conceded 478 yards of total offense (311 passing, 167 rushing) but won the turnover battle for the first time this season. The Trailblazers finished with four takeaways (three interceptions, one fumble) and turned the turnovers into 21 points. Williams and sophomore linebacker Alex Lilliard finished with eight tackles each, while Cooper added six tackles and an interception to go with two pass breakups. Junior safety Trayvon Watson finished with five tackles and his third interception of the season.
The Trailblazers host No. 24 Colorado State-Pueblo next Saturday at 1 p.m., in the 2017 home finale. The game will serve as the team’s Senior Day, as well as Military Appreciation Day.
Keric Seegmiller is Assistant Coordinator of Media Relations at Dixie State University and the Voice of Trailblazer Athletics. Contact him at [email protected].