DIXON – Coach Dave Smith pointed his finger at a few specifc things after Friday’s game in which his Dixon Dukes beat Oregon 46-14 at A.C. Bowers Field. It was the first win of the season for the Dukes.
He pointed first to the defense, which set the tone early with a fourth-down stop on the Hawks’ opening drive.
He pointed to the leadership of his quarterback Jacob Shafer, who executed the offense and got the ball in the hands of the Dukes’ playmakers.
Finally, he pointed to Nate Long, who always seemed just a moment away from a touchdown.
“He has the motor,” Smith said of Long. “Jacob did a good job of getting him the ball, and Nate just has a way of making people miss.”
It started with Shafer and Long, as the two connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to complete the Dukes’ first drive of the game.
“It was outstanding,” Shafer said. “I give the credit to the rest of the team. The line did a great job of giving me time, and the other guys made the plays.”
Oregon (0-3) looked to answer, driving across midfield before being stopped on a fourth-and-short at the Dixon 45.
Long embraced the momentum, taking the handoff from Shafer on the next play and scampering 55-yards for the touchdown.
“That was a huge momentum swing,” Long said. “Our defense played lights out in the first half, and that was what got us going.”
The Dukes (1-2) defense held Oregon to 74 total yards in the first half, as the Dixon offense built a comfortable 32-0 lead.
Shafer and Long connected again for the Dukes’ third touchdown, this one from 29-yards. Shafer would also have touchdown passes to Jacob Gaither and Kyker Callahan in the first half.
In all, Shafer went 15-for-18 for 216 yards and four touchdowns in the first half.
“I don’t often point out quarterbacks,” Smith said. “But the senior leadership he showed tonight was exceptional.”
Oregon, who platooned between Ryker Finch and Breccan Berns at quarterback in the first half, settled on the more run-orietned Berns to start the second half.
It paid off with an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. After Dixon fumbled on the first play of the next drive, Berns threw a 31-yard pass to Finch, setting up Oregon at the Dixon 5.
“The shame of it is is that we haven’t provided Ryker with the protection to show the kind of arm he has,” Oregon coach Nick Schneiderman said. “Ryker does become a threat as receiver then.
“Breccan is more of a runner, but he’s not afraid to throw it either. It a combination we like having.”
Oregon’s Wylee Rice scored on a 5-yard run to make the score 32-14. Rice had 65 rushing yards.
“Wylee Rice had a big game for us on both sides of the ball,” Schneiderman said. “He’s a tough kid and kept fighting the whole game.”
Berns finished with 105 rushing yards and 61 passing yards.
“We practiced all week preparing for both quarterbacks,” Long said. “Our coaches had us really prepared for them.”
“Oregon is a good team,” Smith said. “We weren’t sure if they were going to stick with the spread or go back to the Wing-T, but tonight it showed that they are committed to the spread. It’s going to make them even tougher to beat.”
Andrew Herbst intercepted Shafer on the next drive and Oregon again moved the ball deep into Dixon territory. The Dixon defense came up big, stopping Rice just short of the goal line on a fourth-down play.
Later in the fourth quarter, Long picked off Berns to stop another Oregon drive. Long scored three plays later on a 16-yard run.
Long finished with 123 rushing yards on five carries. He had two rushing touchdown. He also had 95 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
Sebastain Quintana finished off the scoring, rumbling for 29 yards with 2:57 left in the game to put Dixon up 46-14.
Quintana rumbled for a total of 83 yards on 14 carries. He and Long provided a thunder-and-lightning combination out of hte Dixon backfield that kept the Oregon defense on its heels.
“He’s hard to get down,” Schneiderman said. “And No. 8 (Long) is so quick. it’s tough combo to defend against. They took advantage of some matchups early in the game. They had some tall receivers were problematic for our defensive backs.
“We can’t mimic the speed of the game in practice because of our number problems. It took us three or four drives to get up to speeed.”
Star of the game: Nate Long, 5 rushes, 123 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns, 6 receptions, 95 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 1 interception.
He said it: “I think those first two losses really were good for us. It taught us that we have to come out and play together as a team and play hard the whole game. We are just going to keep getting better because of them.” - Dixon senior Nate Long.