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Dixie State football: Trailblazers defeat Western Colorado, 17-10

Dixie State receiver Xavier Smith (left) sprints to the end zone for the winning touchdown against Western Colorado on Saturday.
Dixie State receiver Xavier Smith (left) sprints to the end zone for the winning touchdown against Western Colorado on Saturday.
Stan Plewe, Dixie State Athletics

Dixie State football earned its fifth win of the season on Saturday with a 17-10 decision over Western Colorado at Trailblazer Stadium.

The Trailblazers (5-2, 5-1 RMAC) were held to -1 yards rushing, marking just the third time overall, and the first time since 2009, DSU has been held to negative yards rushing. However, Dixie State countered the WCU run defense with an impressive pass attack, finishing with 331 yards passing to mark the first time since 2016 the Trailblazers have logged more than 300 yards passing in a single game.

Neither team managed to get much going early in the game, as the two sides combined for six punts in a scoreless first quarter.

Dixie State took a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter when A.J. Yergensen converted a 27-yard field goal after a nine-play drive. Michael Sanders connected with Sei-J Lauago for a 15-yard screen pass to start the drive, and the Trailblazers later converted a fourth-down attempt with a 20-yard gain on a hook and ladder play from Lauago to Xavier Smith. But the drive stalled, and Yergensen nailed the field goal to give DSU the lead.

Western countered with a touchdown two drives later to take a 7-3 lead at the 2:08 mark of the second frame. Operating on a short field after blocking a DSU punt, the Mountaineers capped a seven-play, 25-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The Trailblazers regained the lead midway through the third quarter. After forcing a WCU punt, Easton Smith found Dejuan Dantzler for an 83-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the ensuing drive. Dantzler made the catch at the DSU 25-yard line, made the first WCU defender miss and then sprinted the remaining 75 yards to the end zone to give DSU a 10-7 lead.

Western Colorado tied the game at 10-10 midway through the fourth quarter, capping a nine-play, 60-yard drive with a 28-yard field goal at the 8:26 mark.

Dixie State responded with a nine-play, 75-yard drive to push the score to the final tally of 17-10. Easton Smith opened the series with back-to-back completions to Kasey Allison, including a 26-yard strike to move the Trailblazers into WCU territory. Six plays later, Easton Smith found Xavier Smith for a 32-yard touchdown pass. Like the touchdown pass to Dantzler, Xavier Smith made the catch on a short pass, made his defender slip to the turf, then raced to the end zone for the score.

The Mountaineers quickly moved into DSU territory on the ensuing possession, but the Trailblazers sealed the victory, forcing consecutive pass incompletions, followed by back-to-back sacks.

Dixie State finished the game with 330 yards of total offense and used three different quarterbacks in the contest. Sanders completed 8-of-18 passes for 136 yards. Easton Smith connected on 6-of-11 attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and Trent Darms completed 2-of-2 passes for 28 yards. Xavier Smith recorded his first 100-yard receiving game in a DSU uniform, finishing with eight catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. The feat also marked DSU’s first 100-yard receiving game of the season. Dantzler finished with two catches for 90 yards and one touchdown, while Allison added four catches for 84 yards.

The Trailblazers held WCU to just 246 yards (162 pass, 84 rush) of total offense. Seven different DSU players finished with five tackles or more, led by Mike Jones with a team-high eight tackles. Darren Jones and Alex Lillard each finished with seven tackles, while Trayvon Watson added six tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup. Wes Moeai chipped in five tackles and two sacks.

The Trailblazers head back on the road for another two-game trip, starting with a trek to Nebraska to battle Chadron State next Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon.