DIXON – Points are going to be on the minds of Dixon football players and coaches the rest of this weekend.
First, the Dukes will be thinking about all the things that led to Byron scoring 62 during Friday’s regular-season finale in a 62-21 loss at A.C. Bowers Field.
Second, they will have to wait until Saturday night to find out if the 40 playoff points they have will be enough to earn a berth in the state playoffs.
“We want to keep going,” Dixon coach Dave Smith said.”We’re not in the playoffs just yet. We have to see what happens tomorrow night. At 5-4, you got to have the points to get an at-large bid. Right now, I don’t care. I just care about the kids, and we have to regroup from this.”
Byron (8-1), the second-ranked team in Class 3A behind Williamsville, let the opening kickoff bounce out of bounds to get the ball at the 35-yard line. The Tigers proceeded to march down the field behind a strong offensive line and alternating handoffs to Drake Snodgrass and Isaac Stickler.
After eating nearly half of the first-quarter clock, Byron scored on play No. 13 on a 3-yard run by Ian Palzkill. The extra point made in 7-0.
Dixon (5-4) didn’t waste time answering. Sebastian Quintana bulled his way forward for 12 yards on the first play of the drive to get the ball to the Dixon 32-yard line. After a 1-yard scamper by quarterback Jacob Shafer, the Dukes hit it big.
Shafer faked a handoff to Quintana and then made to run the ball off-tackle. Shafer held up before reaching the line of scrimmage and flipped the ball forward to the speedy Nate Long, who made one defender miss before taking it 67 yards for a touchdown. Hunter Pate’s extra-point kick tied the score with 4:55 left in the first quarter.
Unfortunately for the Dukes, they would pick up only one more first down in the half.
“It was just a mistake in coverage,” Byron coach Jeff Boyer said. “Once we talked to our corners, we played a lot better defense after that.”
“Our offense just fell off after that until later in the second half, when it was too late,” Quintana said.
The Tigers took the lead on the next possession on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ben Carlson to Snodgrass.
After Dixon was forced to punt, Byron took over at its own 33. The Tigers were called for a facemask penalty that backed them up 15 yards, and then after an incomplete pass, they were called for a delay of game.
The Tigers faced a third-and-32 at their own 12-yard line when they handed the ball to Snodgrass. He burst through a huge hole and found nothing but open field. He scored 88-yards later on a touchdown that seemed to knock the wind completely out of the Dixon defense.
“We had some momentum taken out of us, for whatever reason,” Smith said. “We missed assignments, had some fumbles, and some penalties. When you are getting hit in the mouth, that’s when bad things can happen. We stayed after it, though, and did the best that we could.”
Palzkill scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 17 yards on the next two drives as the Tigers started to pull away. The 28-point second quarter onslaught finished with a 16-yard pass from Carlson to Josiah Fetherston.
“We gave up the big score early, but after that our defense played pretty well,” Boyer said. “Our offense was really rolling. We just did some really nice things.”
The Tigers amassed 342 yards in the first half alone, led by Snodgrass, who rushed for 184 yards on 15 carries. Pazkill had 102 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries.
Byron played most of the second half with their second team on offense, but finished with 573 total yards.
With Stillman Valley’s loss to Genoa-Kingston, Byron earned a share of the Big Northern Conference title with those two teams. Byron lost to Stillman Valley earlier this season, but beat Genoa-Kingston last week.
“We kind of backed into it,” Boyer said. “It’s a little bit different feeling from what you like. It is what it is, and our kids have played well. We had a lot of injuries that week against Stillman and didn’t play real well, and they got us. Stillman and Genoa are both really good teams. They’ve also earned this.”
Quintana finished with 118 rushing yards on eight carries. He provided a spark in the third quarter with a 90-yard touchdown run. Zavion Johnson added a 24-yard touchdown run for the Dukes in the fourth quarter.
“What I think happened is that we weren’t preparing ourselves like we should have,” Quintana said. “We weren’t eating right. We weren’t focusing. We weren’t accurate, and not concentrating on what we were doing.”
“I don’t want to put this behind us,” Smith said. “I want us to feel this. I want to keep showing this mistake and this missed opportunity. High school football is about getting after it. You need that much technique and that much heart. I know our seniors will make that happen.”
Byron 62, Dixon 21
Star of the game: Drake Snodgrass, Byron, 184 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 1 receiving touchdown.
He said it: “We got a lot of film to watch. Too much. We got to figure out what we did wrong and bounce back from what we did tonight.” - Dixon senior Sebastian Quintana.