Dixie Prevails in Opener
J. C. Tilton
This was an unusual game to say the least. There were an extraordinary number of fumbles and penalties by both teams. So the chain crew really earned their money as they constantly had to reset on each possession change or penalty walkoff. Even though both teams had some young players on the field, the coaches had to be frustrated with the number of mental mistakes. As we would see, Dixie would commit the fewest mistakes.
South looked strong coming out of the gate. They received the opening kickoff and had a decent return, plus a Dixie penalty to put the ball at midfield. Thanks to a couple of Flynn to Leedy passes and a JT Stone run, South was knocking on the door at the Dixie 9 yard line after a 12 play drive. Unfortunately for the Panthers on 4th down a pass to the end zone was incomplete and Dixie took over on downs. And for the remainder of the quarter TVS stayed in the Dixie half of the field, while Dixie could not get past the 50 yard line. A shanked punt for a net of one yard gave the Panthers another go from the Dixie 31, but they could not muster a first down. So while the Dixie offense was sputtering, the Greyhound defense was keeping the Panthers out of the endzone.
In the second quarter a bad snap put South in a third and forever that lead to a punt. Not to be outdone, Dixie also had a bad snap and to compound the error, the quarterback was called for intentional grounding. This was after the team had advanced the ball to the Panther 11 yard line. They were finally forced to punt the ball. TVS began to drive the ball, getting a couple of first downs late in the quarter. One thanks to pass interference, the other a pass from Flynn to Leedy. This next sequence of events happens with about a minute and a half left in the game. South's drive is ended when a muffed snap is recovered by Dixie's Josh Moody. Dixie gets a first down in TVS territory, but then a Dixie pass is caught and fumbled - to be recovered by JT Stone. Possession TVS with about a minute left. But they don't keep the ball either. A South fumble gives Dixie another shot in South territory. With 2 seconds on the clock Dixie took the lead with 33 yard Jared Moore field goal.
About midway thru the third quarter Dixie struck paydirt again with a 10 yard TD pass from Nick Miller to Steven Livingston. South could not answer during their possession and the following Dixie drive was ended with a Joe Maleski interception. At the end of the quarter TVS tried to regain some momentum. JT Stone carried for first down, Wes Rehmert carried for another first. But the Dixie defense stepped up and sacked the quarterback to put South in a long yardage situation and end that challenge.
The fourth quarter saw the South defense start to wear down. Dixie began to run the ball better, but South did manage to keep them out of the red zone for the remainder of the game. Dixie did punch the ball deep into South territory on their last drive but time ran out and Dixie celebrated a hard won 10-0 victory.
Dixie coach Kyle Genslinger was happy that his team was +3 in turnovers. “We knew going in that the team with fewest mistakes was going to win.” He also thought that the defense was outstanding, “The defensive coaches had a good plan and the players executed it.” He also commented that he wants the team to “stay positive with what we are doing right - playing aggressive football. But eliminate the penalties, we can be aggressive but not have as many penalties. We didn't capitalize on the fumbles as much as we should have. Next week will have to execute our offensive game plan better. We will build on what we did right.” He also complimented Steve Livingston on his outstanding defensive play, in addition offensive linemen Aaron Copeland and Ryan Leach were cited for their efforts.
Coach Cottingim was disappointed with the loss but found a few bright spots. “We did not get the outcome that we wanted. We had 8 fumbles - 5 of which we lost. But despite the turnovers, our defense was able to hold them to 10 points, it could have been worse. Now we need to take care of business and take care of the football -we will work on that this week. We had our own opportunities against Dixie and we didn't execute offensively as well as I would have liked.” On offensive JT Stone had 8 carries for 49 yards and Scott Leedy had 3 catches for 32 yards. On defense, Coach Cottingim gave credit to Brian Dawton, Spencer Irvin, and Wes Rehmert for their play.
Coach Cottingim was asked to look ahead to next weeks game against Mississinnewa Valley. “We know they will run the ball, they will be strong and physical. And they get after it defensively. But athletically, I think we match up with them, we just need to take care of business.”